Dillon Gonzales felt nervous as he walked into Memorial Stadium on Saturday night.
He missed practice on Friday as a precautionary measure after fracturing his right thumb at an earlier practice.
In addition, Gonzales was about to take the field in Wichita Falls with a team he had met just a few days earlier.
But stepping onto the field at the 77th Oil Bowl and seeing all the support for him and the West team in the stands helped him relax and dominate the field like he had done so many times for Graham.
In fact, Gonzales scored the first touchdown less than five minutes into the game on a 45-yard go route from Burnet's Derek Kiser.
“It was awesome,” the former Graham running back said in reference to his lone score of the night.
Gonzales said he was blessed to receive an invitation to the Oil Bowl and wanted to represent Graham well.
“I just played to my full potential,” he said.
With three Graham athletes at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) All-Star football game in Abilene and another one at the FCA All-Star baseball game in San Angelo, offensive line coach Joe Merrett was the only other GHS representative at the Oil Bowl.
Merrett arrived in Wichita Falls Saturday after visiting some of the FCA athletes earlier in the week.
When Merrett got to the stands, he watched something he had seen many times before from the sidelines.
“[Dillon's] so fast and quick that he outran everybody to the goal line,” Merrett said. “He gets to about the 10-yard line and throws the Steers sign up in the air and runs in...stuff we got used to seeing every Friday night when he'd go to score.”
Gonzales finished second on the West team with three catches for 57 yards and the only receiving touchdown in the game. He also had three rushes for five yards.
Beacause of his speed and quickness, Merrett said, Gonzales was open multiple times down the field, but the pass rush from the East team made it hard for the West quarterbacks to find him.
Read the full story in Wednesday's Graham Leader.