LAMPASAS — Johnnie Mcgehee did not want to win. He had to win.
Entering its District 26-4A finale, Lampasas’ playoff hopes hinged on the outcome with a loss to Burnet eliminating the Badgers from contention and snapping a streak of five consecutive appearances.
Lampasas’ senior goalkeeper and his teammates could not allow that to happen, though.
“We knew we had to do this,” Mcgehee said. “It was win this or no playoffs. So, we needed this, and everyone came in on their toes and ready to go.
“We did not want to be the team to disappoint.”
And it did not.
The Badgers collected an emphatic 6-1 victory to secure a first-round encounter with District 25-4A champion Salado next week, and Lampasas head coach Ryan Race admits witnessing a transformation in his players of late.
“There was just an intensity with the guys tonight,” he said. “They work better under pressure, and luckily we’ve been getting better and better and hotter and hotter later in the season.”
Almost everything went the Badgers’ way against the Bulldogs.
Midway through the first half, senior Sean Salazar found teammate Eyan Skiles, who scored to give Lampasas a 1-0 lead. In the 28th minute, the Badgers doubled their advantage as Dylan Kannan found the back of the net.
Burnet responded less than a minute later with its lone goal, but Lampasas provided an answer in the 33 rd minute, when Kannan delivered his second goal, and the Badgers took the 3-1 cushion into halftime.
“We were finally able to put the ball away,” Race said. “We’ve been struggling all year at scoring, but tonight, we moved the ball well and put it in dangerous areas.”
Lampasas continued its offensive onslaught in the second half, recording its final three goals within a 13-minute span.
With 20 minutes elapsed from the clock, the Badgers began the surge as Warren Burke slipped a ball past the goalkeeper during a scramble in front of Burnet’s net.
Approximately seven minutes later, Lampasas was awarded a penalty kick, and Mcgehee, who had seven saves, was selected to leave the goal and take the shot, looking for his first career goal.
“I can shoot,” he said, “but I’ve just never had the opportunity, and I finally got it.
“I knew it was now or never ... and the feeling was indescribable.”
Then, in the 73rd minute, Badgers senior Juan Barrera capped off the Badgers’ scoring, delivering a header into the goal.
Lampasas produced 38 shots on goal during the victory, dominating the pitch for a majority of the match, and the performance should fuel the Badgers moving forward, according to Race.
“That was huge,” he said. “That helps build their character and gives the kids confidence going into the match against Salado.
“Hopefully, we can take it into the second round too, and we’ll see where we go from there.”