By Michael Sudhalter
As the playoffs progress and the opponents become more challenging, Kirvin Bonilla knows the moment may arrive.
The one where he’s called upon to make a game-winning field goal for the undefeated Stafford High football team.
“At first, I was really nervous, but ever since I started making them, I started gaining confidence and felt better about myself,” Bonilla said.
The 15-year-old Bonilla began the school year as a kicker for the SHS freshman team and a cross country runner.
Last month, Spartans head football coach Ron Counter promoted Bonilla to varsity to bring consistency to the kicking game.
The freshman has delivered, connecting on all three of his field goal attempts and 19 of 21 extra points.
“He’s very confident for a freshman,” Counter said. “As a kicker, you have to have a lot of confidence. He has a chance to be really good over the next couple of years.”
The Spartans (11-0) – ranked eighth in Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Class 4A-Division I Top 10 – will face Carthage (8-3) in the 4A-I playoffs at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Turner Stadium in Humble.
Stafford completed its first undefeated regular season and has never advanced beyond the second round. If the Spartans win on Friday, they’ll likely face Navasota – the top team in 4A-I, next week.
Bonilla is confident that he can make a game-winning field goal in a high pressure situation.
“I always relax and listen to music before I kick because it calms my mind,” Bonilla said.
Like many place-kickers, Bonilla’s first sport is soccer.
The 5-foot-10, 150-pound freshman decided to try kicking as a seventh grader at Quail Valley Middle School in Missouri City.
Bonilla lives in Missouri City, but his mother works for Stafford MSD. The district has a policy of giving employees the option of enrolling their children.
Bonilla, a center/midfielder in soccer, plans on joining the Spartans’ soccer program this winter.
STAFFORD SPARTANS (11-0) vs. CARTHAGE BULLDOGS (8-3)
Class 4A, Division I playoffs
7:30 p.m. Friday, Turner Stadium, Humble
A quick look: Stafford has been here before, but they’ve never advanced beyond the second round. The Spartans haven’t had a serious challenge since they went on the road to defeat perennial power, El Campo, 14-8. Carthage is better than its 8-3 record indicates. The Bulldogs’ three losses have come by a total of seven points. Carthage is one of the top 4A programs in the state.
Rankings: Stafford is No. 8 in Texas Football’s 4A Division I Top 10
Deciding factor: Stafford must build an early lead against a competitive Carthage team that has played in several close games this season.
The winner will play: Navasota or Jasper
RIDGE POINT PANTHERS (8-3) vs. CROSBY COUGARS (11-0)
Class 5A, Division II playoffs
1 p.m. Saturday, NRG Stadium, Houston
A quick look: Ridge Point was the only Fort Bend ISD team (out of five) to win a first round playoff game last weekend. The Panthers overcame a second half deficit to edge Port Lavaca Calhoun, 42-35. Their next challenge will be undefeated Crosby under the bright lights at NRG Stadium. But the Panthers have played a schedule to prepare them for this game. They have close losses against district champions Clear Creek and Hightower, respectively, and they were responsible for handing Stratford its only loss of the season.
Rankings: Crosby is No. 4 in Texas Football’s 5A Top 25
Deciding factor: Ridge Point can’t afford to fall behind early against a talented Crosby team that is being touted as a possible state champion.
The winner will play: A&M Consolidated or Magnolia
FIRST ROUND RESULTS
Ridge Point 42, Port Lavaca Calhoun 35
Friendswood 27, Hightower 24
Clear Creek 63, Travis 10
George Ranch 55, Bush 14
Foster 31, Elkins 7
Dallas Christian 49, Fort Bend Christian 7
Stafford 69, Houston Sterling 26