SAN ANTONIO — Sharyland Pioneer left everything it had on the Alamodome field, as the Diamondbacks dropped a heartbreaker against Boerne-Champion, 45-38, in overtime in a Class 5A Division II regional semifinal Saturday.
Despite battling a shoulder injury for the majority of the second half and overtime, junior quarterback Eddie Lee Marburger refused to come out of the game. His teammates had to help him off the Alamodome turf on multiple occasions. Still, Marburger stayed in the game and led his team back from a 15-point fourth quarter deficit to send the game into overtime.
But after a Boerne-Champion touchdown to begin OT, the Diamondbacks fell 1 yard short of converting a fourth-and-1 at the Chargers’ 5-yard line on a Marburger run up the middle. After the play and the game was over, an injured Marburger remained on the ground before being helped up and escorted to the locker room for doctors to assess his injury.
“You talk about a warrior today, back in the fourth quarter he started getting a little banged up and he just went out there and played. We couldn’t get him off the field. He made some great throws,” Pioneer head coach Tom Lee said of Marburger’s five-touchdown performance. “I couldn’t be more proud of Eddie, Luke (Padilla), Lavar (Lindo), Tristan (Castillo), all my seniors, they played unbelievable today and they left everything out on the field.”
The Diamondbacks fought their way back into the game after being down 24-9 at the break.
Pioneer’s only touchdown of the first half came on a Marburger pass to Lindo for a 91-yard catch and run, as the 6-foot-4-inch receiver ran past the Boerne-Champion secondary.
During the second half, the Diamondbacks outscored the Chargers 29-14, as Marburger punched in three rushing touchdowns and connected with Evan Maldonado for a 25-yard score to cap off a 70-yard opening drive.
“We came out swinging and we just got back to what we do best, playing good defense and making plays offensively, and we put ourselves right back into it at 38-38. We had opportunities, they had opportunities, and we came up 1 yard short again,” Lee said, referencing Pioneer’s 56-55 first round loss to Port LaVaca in 2018, which ended 1 yard shy of converting a two-point conversion attempt for the win.
Padilla, a senior receiver, said Marburger’s play was the reason the Diamondbacks even had a chance to win the game Saturday.
“He’s just an unbelievable guy, an amazing leader. He’s the one who brought us through that game-tying drive. He’s the one that did it. Not us. He did,” Padilla said.
After surrendering 24 points to the Chargers and their dual-threat quarterback Luke Boyers, a TCU baseball commit, the Diamondbacks’ defense turned up the heat and held Boerne-Champion to just 14 points in the second half.
Linebackers Ethan Lee, Kyle Sullivan and Fernando Salcedo started flying around the field, the Pioneer secondary began to lock down, and the big dogs on the defensive line upped the pressure. Senior nose guard Erik Torres even came up with an interception off a tipped Boerne-Champion pass to give his team a spark and the ball back to Marburger and the Diamondbacks’ offense.
Senior safety Chis’mere Mallard and the defense buckled down to fight their way back into the ballgame, but the Diamondbacks’ dreams of getting past round three were dashed. Mallard said he’ll remember Pioneer made by winning the first two playoff games in program history.
“This season, we left a great legacy. We made a lot of history compared to the teams in the past, and I’m happy that our team left everything on the field,” Mallard said.
“District champs, 11 straight wins in a row, bi-district and area championships against good teams. We played San Antonio, played Austin, then we’re back to San Antonio. I think Valley football is getting where we need to get to, and I’m just very proud to be able to represent the 956,” coach Tom Lee said.