The Apaches play their first of four home games this season on Friday against the 5A Austin Crockett Cougars (0-1). Gonzales (0-1) comes in to the game after a tough loss last week, with head coach Kodi Crane pointing at their playing shape as a reason for the defeat.
“The thing we need to improve on is our playing shape,” he noted. “There’s several ways of improvement on that. Obviously we got to get ourselves in better shape. And the new got to do a better job rotating kids in and out, especially against that offense.”
The Cougars have multiple looks on offense, though in summary, they can be described as a spread team.
“It’s a spread combination,” Crane scouted. “They will run a tight end, they will run a sniffer. They’ve been in one three-back formation and they’ve been in no-back formation. They’re very multiple in their formations.”
Players to look out for include quarterback Patrick Ray (5), running back Andrew Jones (33), tight end Christian Rivera (81) and “sniffer” Jerimiah Moore (44).
Crane touted Rivera’s and Moore’s blocking abilities as well as Ray’s and Jones’ play-making abilities.
“We got to line up right to their 450,000 sets,” Crane said with a bit of exaggeration to Crockett’s many formations. “Alignment, number one, and number two we got to have outstanding run fits.”
The Cougars offense has many RPO or run-pass-option plays, that allows their quarterback to read the defense and hit one of his receivers with a pass if that option is better than handing the ball off to one of his backs.
“We just got to understand [the RPO] and understand our responsibilities,” Crane said. “Just do what the scheme is designed to do.”
Defensively the Cougars base out of a 50 double eagle, meaning a nose guard, two defensive tackles and two defensive ends. The formation is designed to crowd the box and stop the run. The Apaches believe they have opportunities to not only find angles to block those players in the box, but also find openings in their short passing game.
“With the way our football team is, the design of our football team, we got to be able to run the football,” Crane said. “We’ll find a way and we’ll be physical running the ball Friday night.”
Even with the heavy emphasis on running the ball, Crane admits it’s possible quarterback Marvin Cardoza will attempt more passes, though the Apaches coaching staff believes their run-heavy offense will succeed, even against a team with a defense such as Austin Crockett’s.
But if it comes down to more passing, Crane has faith in his starting quarterback, touting Cardoza’s play from the second scrimmage and last week’s game as he connected on their vertical passing game.
“We think we have that opportunity and whenever the time arises, we can throw it around a little bit as well,” Crane said.
Special teams play will be highlighted this Friday. Though the team trusts they have a playmaker in their punter, more playing time is needed for inexperience Adrian Rodriguez.
“He needs to see more live looks, he needs to see it live,” Crane said. “We had to tweak some blocking stuff. But yes, [special teams] has been a major emphasis. We worked kickoff and kickoff return hard [this week].”
The Apaches host Austin Crockett at Apache Field with kickoff set at 7:30 p.m.