GONZALES — After a four-game road trip, the Apaches (3-4, 1-0) are back at home, ready to take on their second district game of the season against the Beeville Jones Trojans (5-2, 0-1).
Although the various road trips were grueling for some, Gonzales head coach Kodi Crane believes his “resilient” players were able to withstand the various obstacles during the four-week road tilt.
“It’s nice,” Crane said of finally coming back home for a game. “It was a long stretch on the road leading up to the most important game [the district opener against Pleasanton]. But we started talking to our kids about that whenever we knew the schedule late February, kind of whenever you know the home and road. During the summer and spring we’d do our ‘District 40s’ and whenever our kids are getting ready to run, getting ready to line up to run that 40 that represents Pleasanton, we’d say ‘hey, we’ve been on the road three weeks, you got to go attack this.’”
“Now looking back at it, after it’s over, the kids are resilient,” he continued. “We had a kid that was banged up earlier in the year and he told me, ‘coach, I really want to be back for that Waco game.’ That was a cool environment. The Hondo game was a long trip, the Cuero game is right down the road, and they’re going to be up for that, and then Pleasanton is our first game of district, so our kids are pretty resilient with that. Looking back at it, it probably affected coaches every bit as much as it affected our kids. We spent four weeks getting home late, getting here up early the next day. Kids are resilient and looking back on it, I think everybody is excited to be back at home, I think everybody is excited to be playing back at our stadium, but I think our kids made it through that like champions. I was really pleased.”
This week, the Apaches will be taking on a Trojan team that is “quarterback driven,” according to Crane. Their offensive run-pass ratio slightly leans pass, though Crane admittedly noted it’s about 51-49 pass-to-run.
With nearly 1,400 yards passing and over 900 yards rushing, quarterback Seth Gomez (8) is indeed the one that drives the offense.
“The quarterback is the leading rusher in our district and has 1,400 passing yards to go with it,” Crane said, “he’s an extremely good football player.”
Those rushing stats aren’t by accident either. The Trojans will call plenty of designed quarterback runs as well as pitch options for their junior signal caller.
“[Of the] 136 run plays, 83 of them, he had the ball in his hand,” Crane scouted. “So 61 percent of the time, their run plays, [Gomez] has the ball in his hands with the option to keep it.”
Wide receiver Dony Givens (3) is another player to look out for on that offense. The senior wideout is currently the leading catcher for the Trojans.
The Apaches defense will need to limit Givens and Gomez as well as “manage the vertical passing game,” according to the head coach.
“It’s a big ask,” Crane admitted. But with an athlete like Gomez, the defense needs to realize that the play isn’t over until the whistle is blown, with Gomez known to not only scramble but find a man deep 50 yards.
“We showed our kids that there comes a point with our defensive back that you think, ‘I’ve ran this far, there ain’t no way that they’re throwing it to my guy,’ well, this quarterback can throw it that far, so you better be covering 50 yards down the field because the ball can come,” Crane said. “We’re teaching them all those things throughout the course of the week.”
Defensively, the Trojans base out of a 4-2-5, similar to what the Apaches defense do, though they’ve taken out a strong safety and put in another lineman to run a five-man front to stop the run.
“They do a lot of their defense, several coverages, several blitzes [and] several movements,” Crane said. “It’s going to be real important for us, offensively, to figure out their game plan against us early, diagnose it and be able to call what’s most effective versus what they’re doing.”
In-game and halftime adjustments will be key for this Apaches offense who has improved week after week as the passing game has become more effective and the running game has also improved with two runners surpassing the 100-yard milestone last week.
Last week, La Vernia beat Beeville Jones 43-27. Boerne was on a bye. Pleasanton plays Boerne tonight. Gonzales plays Beeville Jones on Friday, while La Vernia is on a bye. Kickoff for the Apaches game is set for 7:30 p.m.
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