LONGVIEW — John Tyler’s DeVonte Haggerty and Whitehouse’s Jonathan Aldridge playfully boasted about who wore No. 19 best Saturday night, all while each posted impressive stats in their final prep action of standout careers.
After witnessing 11 playoff wins in high school, Haggerty helped the Red Team defeat the Blue Team 24-17 in the second annual Heart of a Champion bowl game Saturday night at Lobo Stadium.
Aldridge, who totaled more than 1,000 yards receiving, starred in defeat for the Blue Team. Aldridge led all players 118 yards receiving. He turned two of his four catches into touchdowns. The effort earned Aldridge Offensive Most Valuable Player honors.
Longview’s Jordan Burton, who intercepted a pass for the Red Team, garnered Offensive MVP accolades.
“I was just trying to have fun and do what I can to help the team win,” said Aldridge, who wore No. 1 last season for Whitehouse while ranking among the state leaders in receiving yards. “I tried to be competitive. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it’d be. I had a lot of fun.”
For Haggerty, the return trip to Lobo Stadium turned out like the previous. As a junior, Haggerty scored twice as JT handed Longview a 28-7 defeat, ending the Lobos’ seven-year home winning streak.
The Air Force signee played running back for the Red Team and returned kicks. The Red Team staff featured head coach Paul Essary of Athens and Longview’s John King as offensive coordinator.
Haggerty rushed 11 times for 60 yards to lead the Red Team’s balanced attack. He lined up in the backfield exclusively after playing under center, splitting wide and even playing defense for JT’s state semifinalist team last year.
“Coach King said he was glad I was on his team this time,” Haggerty said. “I was glad to play against the best of the best, and in East Texas one last time. It was a humbling experience and a better ending than the playoffs. This ended on a good note.”
On two consecutive plays, Aldridge scored, both go-ahead TDs later answered by the Red Team.
The first time he leaped to grab Riley Toler’s fade pass right before halftime to give the Blue Team its first lead of the game just before halftime.
“People underestimate my jumping ability,” said Aldridge, who boasts a 41-inch vertical leap to go with 4.31-second speed in the 40-yard dash. “I get as high as I need.”
After the Red Team regained the lead, Aldridge struck again. Henderson’s Del Barnes dumped off a short pass to Aldridge, who pulled in the reception, spun outside and raced unchallenged to finish the 80-yard TD.
“It was a stop route,” said Aldridge, a Navarro signee. “He came at me and missed. I saw daylight and took off.”
The score marked the last for the Blue Team as the Red Team regained control and milked the clock behind the running of Haggerty and Longview’s Deontre Wilson.
“We’re close,” Haggerty said of his relationship with Aldridge. “I told him to do what No. 19 would do. He didn’t fall short. But we won.”
Aldridge felt like all involved walked away winners.
“It wasn’t a win-or-lose situation,” Aldridge said. “Everyone played hard and that’s all you could ask for.”