It’s common to believe being placed in a five-team district means it’s easier to get into the playoffs. That’s not the case for the Gonzales Apaches, who are in a tough district in District 15-4AD1 where the five teams combine for a 24-4 overall record. All teams are above .500.
“That means a really good football team is going to be sitting at home four weeks from now, that’s crazy,” Gonzales head football coach Mike Waldie said. “You would think being in a five-team district would be an advantage. It almost feels like a disadvantage because now one game can change the whole … you can be kind of in, kind of out of the playoffs in one game. When you’re used to being in six, seven, eight-team districts like I’m used to, one game is one game, you know.”
That also means that one win will most likely be the difference between getting a postseason game.
“We’re attacking this as a step to get into the playoffs, that’s how important this game is [against] Pleasanton,” Waldie said. “There’s a lot of football left, a lot of seeding left, but both teams will be lying to you if they didn’t recognize that the winner of this game is in the driver’s seat for the playoffs, because you got the head-to-head on them.”
This Friday is the Apaches’ first district test as they take on Pleasanton (6-0).
Offensively, the Eagles are a balanced squad with their run and pass games, though senior wide receiver #80 Dalton Hobbs is one too look out for. Hobbs as more than half of the team’s receiving yards, catching 31 balls for 777 yards and 11 touchdowns.
“He’s a really special player,” Waldie said. “He’s as talented as anyone in South Texas.”
The running back duo of Joel Arevalo and Daniel Valadez have shared carries in the backfield with lefty Nathaniel Acevedo slinging passes at quarterback.
Meanwhile, the team’s strength of their defense is in the middle, with their inside linebackers and safeties.
“They’ve created three turnovers in every game,” Waldie noted.
The Apaches will focus on their strengths on offense, which is being physical and running the ball in between tackles with their running backs and quarterback.
“It took a little time to find our identity,” Waldie added. “Now that we found it, we’re just going to do it the best we can until somebody is better than we are at it.”
Controlling the line of scrimmage is key for the Apaches. Waldie believes they’ll be able to figure out early on who will have the upper hand.
“If we’re able to run the ball through the tackles, I think our speed will be a factor at some point,” he said. “I do think we’re the faster team, I think they would even admit that, but that doesn’t matter until you win the line of scrimmage.”
Special teams can proved to be the difference Friday night as it was against Yoakum. The Apaches have specialists on the team for rugby-style punting, long field goals and kickoffs that go through the end zone. Waldie is confident in kicking field goals from up to 50 yards out, while the Eagles don’t necessarily have those weapons.
“I think we’ve got the advantage in [special teams],” he said. “Their extra-point field guy does not have a real strong leg. I don’t know that a long field goal is a real shot for them and we’ve got a chance to kick up to a 50 yard field goal if we need it. If we add all those up, I still think we win that third phase and it could be a difference in the ball game as it has for us already two or three times.”
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at home on Friday.