GONZALES — “The team’s coach has changed, but the warriors remain the same,” Uvalde Leader-News staff writer Charley Robinson wrote in July 27 in his article titled “How accurate are football magazine’s predictions?”. Robinson was citing the Uvalde Coyotes’ team makeup as they return many key players, but a new coaching staff is in place with possible changes to scheme. But after reviewing the film study, Apaches’ head coach Kodi Crane and the coaching staff have seen that after four non-district games, the Coyotes are similar to last year’s squad.
“They’re a spread, throw-first football team,” Crane said of their offense, which was they did last season. “I think last year whenever we played them and the films that we got, they were a 50-50 run/pass. This year they are 66 percent pass, 33 percent run. They want to throw the football.”
Senior quarterback #12 Michael Mata will be the main signal caller under center, which is slightly different from last year when he split time with #2 Domingo Davila. With Mata chucking the ball, the Apaches will have to be prepare for not only his big arm but his hard-to-take-down big body.
“He can chunk it,” Crane scouted. “He has a good field of vision. There’s been a couple busted plays, bad snaps, where he’ll go pick up and there’ll be a receiver right there and everyone’s chasing the quarterback and he’ll plop it over there and go make 20 yards. He does a good job, hard to be sacked. He’s a big kid, stepping out of tackles, hard to get down.”
Running back #22 David Rodriguez is small, but is very impressive in the backfield. Crane thought last year that he could be good and after the game was over those initial scouting reports were indeed confirmed.
“He’s short in stature, and he runs extremely hard,” he said. “He gave us fits last year.”
In film studies, Mata hasn’t shown a favorite, which makes sense with an offense like Uvalde’s. Their fast-paced, quick-snap offense allows Mata a chance to hit any receiver he needs.
“He distributes the ball well and that’s part of this offense, to distribute the ball to all of his receivers,” Crane warned, “so you can’t just defend one, you have to defend them all.”
The quick pace will be something the Apaches defense needs to adjust to. Last season, the Coyotes started the game with a seven-play, 76-yard touchdown drive that took off just 1:56 of game clock. But the defense did adjust, forcing two straight interceptions.
As for the Coyotes’ defense, the Apaches are ready to take on a slightly different look than last year’s squad.
“Last year they were more of a 3-3 Stack,” Crane noted, “this year they are more of a four-man front. Now, they will get back in their stack look, but more of a four-man front is what they base out of this year.”
The Apaches were able to exploit Uvalde’s run defense as Josh Calvin gashed that unit for 178 yards and three touchdowns. But Crane warned that this team isn’t the same as last year’s.
“[This is a] new team,” he said. “Whenever we talked to them we made sure Monday morning that last year’s beat them, not you, last year’s team. Josh Calvin rushed for 180, we didn’t. Yes, we hope to see very similar things, we want to be explosive in our run game.”
The Coyotes’ defense will play up close and have what’s called a “big play defense,” where they go for the big plays, which can expose them for offensive big plays as well. And with the way the offensive line has progressed, the Apaches’ coaching staff believes they can do just that.
Their game against the Coyotes — who will be celebrating homecoming night — is at Uvalde, where kickoff is set at 7:30 p.m.