Gone are the days of Da’Wain Lofton, now at Virginia Tech, Isaak Rosales, Chris Smith and Jorge Aguirre - just a few seniors last season that helped Fort Worth North Side make some football history.
The Steers started 2020 with a 5-0 record, their best start since 1946.
They finished 7-2 overall, the program’s best record since 1982. They clinched a playoff berth in back-to-back seasons, which hadn’t been done since the 1970s, and in 2019, North Side played a postseason game for the first time in 40 years.
But behind a new group, which include quarterback Kevin Ortega, running backs Michael Alvarado and Brandon Forrest, and a unit of gritty defenders, North Side won its third straight game on Thursday night, a 35-0 decision over FW South Hills in a District 4-5A D2 opener at Farrington Field.
After a sluggish start by both teams that resulted in a scoreless opening quarter, North Side (3-1, 1-0 in 4-5A D2) would score a pair of touchdowns to take a 14-0 lead at the half.
On the Steers’ third possession of the night, Forrest took a hand-off from Ortega on a fourth-and-5 and raced across the goal line from 23 yards out that gave North Side a 7-0 lead with 8:43 left in the second quarter.
South Hills (0-3, 0-1) picked up a first down to its own 30 on the ensuing drive, but the Scorpions went backwards on a 10-yard penalty and fumble to push them back to the 22.
During the punt, the snap was bad and South Hills couldn’t corral the loose ball, which bounced into the end zone. North Side’s Joseph Villalobos was able to secure it, giving the Steers a 14-0 advantage with under five minutes to go in the first half.
The Scorpions looked good on the game’s opening drive starting at their 20 and moving the ball to the North Side 46, but on the ninth play of the possession, a pass attempt was deflected down field and the Steers came away with the interception from Julio Jamarillo.
Of South Hills’ six first-half possessions, the North Side defense forced three punts - one resulting in the Villalobos touchdown and another ending in a 10-yard loss - plus two turnover on downs and two interceptions.
The Steers’ picked off a second SH pass attempt with under 3 1/2 minutes in the second quarter on another deflection, which was caught by defensive back Lorenzo Perez.
South Hills’ defense was able to force three-and-outs on both interceptions to limit the damage.
North Side came out quick in the third quarter with a four-play scoring drive as Forrest capped it off with his second touchdown, a 12-yard run to up the lead to 21-0.
Irving Lopez would score North Side’s final touchdown when he fielded a Scorpions’ punt in the fourth quarter and raced across field, beating defenders and getting timely blocks for a 65-yard score.