Two things became clear after the Gonzales High School football team’s 47-31 loss Oct. 9 at Giddings: The offense has founds its grove and the defense is struggling amid a slew of injuries.
The loss not only dropped the Apaches to 1-5 overall, but put them in a 0-1 hole in district play. 4A-2 District 13 has six teams vying for four playoff spots.
Calling the Friday, Oct. 16 home game against Smithville (0-1, 2-4) a must-win isn’t an exaggeration given that the loser will fall to 0-2 in district. With Giddings and Cuero facing off this week after opening district with a win – along with Navarro (which faces La Grange) – there will be at least two teams sitting at 1-1, and maybe three.
“At 1-1, we control our fate,” said head coach Mike Waldie. “At 0-2, you start needing other teams to win and looking at tiebreakers.”
Against Navarro last week, Smithville rallied from down 3-0 at the half and 16-6 after three quarters before coming up short in a 23-20 loss.
The Apaches, meanwhile, topped 400 yards in offense for the second consecutive game. Dillen Ramos had 175 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Jarren Johnson threw for 165 yards.
For the Apaches, keeping the offense moving forward and getting the defense to go the distance will be keys against Smithville.
“Truthfully, we’ve got to find a way to cut off some drives and play better defense,” said Waldie. “I said this last year when we lost to Navarro 17-16 – that you can’t lose that game in high school when you hold a team to 17 points. You have to win that game. The same is true when you get the fourth or fifth score, you have to win the game or take it to overtime.
“Losing 29-23 to Burnett (Week 2), we didn’t put up the fourth score. That’s an offensive problem. This year, losing to Giddings, after putting up the fourth, or fourth-and-a-half, whatever you want to call it – that’s a defensive issue.
“The bottom line is this: We have to find a way to hold them in the 20s and keep improving because I think our offense has truly found its niche.”
The defense will again be without Jeremiah Hastings and Aaron Guerrero, who are still recovering from injuries. The unit is already without safety Josh Esparza and inside linebacker Zachary Box due to season-ending injuries.
Waldie describes the Tigers as volatile and fast team that is capable of both big plays and grinding out drives.
Smithville has a running quarterback in Blake Segel (#8), and a passer in Derrick Roberson (#9).
The Apaches and Tigers have a common opponent in Jarrell, with the Apaches winning 67-22, while the Tigers won 63-6. The Tigers other win came in Week 1 over Columbia (28-7), while they have loss to Yoakum (21-7), Shiner (41-12), Columbus (38-7) and Navasota (23-20).
The Tigers will also take linebackers Ian Flowers (#24, 6-2, 245) and Chris Sanders (#18, 6-1, 225) and use them in tandem as running backs to create a power running game that has proved successful for scoring drives.
It was a strange night in Giddings for the Apaches. At times, it looked like they might lose by 30 or win by 21. A second-half rally had the Apaches within a single score, 33-25, in the fourth quarter before the Buffaloes put the game away.
The Apaches opened the game with a 7-play, 75-yard scoring drive that saw five players carry the ball. Braden Barfield had a two catches for 58 yards, while Derrick Garza capped it with a 4-yard touchdown run. Jonathan Tejada added the PAT for a 7-0 lead.
Giddings answered to tie the game at 7-7.
The Apaches, however, turned the ball over on its next two drives on a fumble and an interception. Yet, the defense was able to limit the Buffaloes to a single field goal as it stopped on drive on its own 32 on downs, while forcing the field goal from its own 9.
Down 10-7, the Apaches ended up punting. On the very next play, the Buffaloes scored on a 73-yard run to go up 17-7.
The Apaches followed by turning the ball over on downs at the Buffaloes’ 40 on a 7-play drive marked by missed opportunities in the passing game.
Giddings added a field goal to go up 20-7 with 2:09 left in the first half.
A kickoff return by TJ Riojas set up the Apaches on the Buffaloes’ 44. The Apaches moved to the 28, where they faced a fourth-and-10.
Waldie opted send Tejada out for a 45-yard field goal. His kick was straight and just cleared the crossbar to make it a two-score game at 20-10 with 1:08 left.
“We’ve seen him hit in that range in practice,” Waldie said. The wind was blowing the right way – if we were going the other way, we wouldn’t have tried it.”
Giddings attempted a 37-yard field goal as time expired, but it was no good.
The second half got off to a rough start for the Apaches as the Buffaloes scored on their first two possessions to go up 33-10. Between the two possession was another Apaches interception.
The Apaches, however, pulled to 33-18 with a 73-yard drive that included Ramos’ 30-yard run. Ramos capped the drive with a 9-yard score. Jarren Johnson scored on the two-point conversion.
The Apache defense forced a Buffaloes punt from near midfield. A favorable bounce and roll pinned the Apaches at their own two yard line.
But Ramos took a direct snap from center, broke through the line, and found clear sailing for a 98-yard scoring run. Tejada’s PAT kick made it 33-25 with 11:32 left in the game.
After trading possessions, the Apaches looked to have a golden opportunity as Giddings had the ball stripped away in the red zone, with Barfield recovering the loose ball in the end zone for a touchback.
But the offense couldn’t move the ball and was forced to punt with 6:39 left in the game.
Giddings’ broke off a 42-yard scoring run for a 40-25 lead with 4:24 left.
After the Apaches turned the ball over on downs, Giddings scored again to go up 47-25 with 2:17 left.
The Apaches did manage to add a touchdown on a Johnson to Barfield pass with three second left.
Gonzales High School
2020 Football Schedule
• Aug. 28: El Campo 35, Apaches 0
• Sept. 4: Burnet 29, Apaches 21#
• Sept. 11: Fredericksburg 46, Apaches 6
• Sept. 18: LaVernia 47, Apaches 16
• Sept. 25: Apaches 67, Jarrell 22**
• Oct. 2: Open
• Oct. 9: Giddings 47, Apaches 31*
• Oct. 16: vs. Smithville, 7:30 p.m.*
• Oct. 23: @ LaGrange, 7:30 p.m.*
• Oct. 30: vs. Navasota, 7:30 p.m.*
• Nov. 6: @ Cuero, 7:30 p.m.*
*District 12 4A-2 game
District 13 4A-2
• Giddings 1-0/4-2
• Navasota 1-0/3-2
• Cuero 1-0/3-3
• La Grange 0-1/3-3
• Smithville 0-1/2-4
• Gonzales 0-1, 1-5
Oct. 9 results:
• Giddings 47, Gonzales 31
• Navasota 23, Smithville 20
• Cuero 38, La Grange 27
Oct. 16 games:
• Smithville at Gonzales
• Cuero at Giddings
• La Grange at Navasota
@ Gonzales Apaches
• 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16
• Gonzales High School
• Tickets are available to the public for $5 beginning at 12:01 p.m. each Wednesday at www.gonzalesisd.net, and then going to departments/athletics/tickets.
Cutlines for jump
Braden Barfield finds a gaps to exploit during a punt return against Giddings. (Steve Fountain)
Russell Thomas tries to reel in Giddings quarterback Holden Jatzlau. (Steve Fountain)
TJ Riojas (19) tries to drag down Giddings running back Jesse DeLa Torre as Derrick Garza (5) closes in. (Steve Fountain)