District opener

Tough defense needed to limit Pleasanton's explosiveness


GONZALES — Now it all counts.

Gonzales opens District 15-4AD1 play Friday night on the road, their fourth away game in a row, taking on a one-loss Pleasanton team. The Apaches have been in this situation before a few years ago during the 2014-16 realignment. Both the 2014 and 2015 football teams went 0-5 in non-district before going 4-1 in district play — including knocking off the Pleasanton Eagles twice — to take second place in their respective district.

“Pleasanton is a phenomenal football team,” Gonzales Head Coach Kodi Crane said last week after the Apaches’ loss to Mineral Wells. “They’re going to be undefeated, just like our first year here. We were 0-5, they went 5-0. We went down and won the game. The next year, we’re 0-5, they were 5-0, they came to our place and we dominated the game.”

Pleasanton ultimately lost to Kingsville King 33-32, the most points that defense has given up all season. But the point still remains, the Eagles are an explosive, tough test for the Apaches.

Offensively, the team will lean on their quarterback Johnny Zamora (2) and their dominant wide receiver Dalton Hobbs (80). Though no height is listed on Hobbs, Crane suspects he’s about 6 feet, 6 inches.

“[Hobbs] is one of the best receivers I’ve ever seen,” Crane noted. “Whenever they get in trouble, they can throw it to this guy, throw it sky high and just let him make a play.”

“[Hobbs] is one of the best — on film — that I’ve ever coached against,” Crane added.

The Eagles are a different animal on offense than the Apaches are used to. A pass-first offense, the Apaches coaching staff calculates that Pleasanton pass-to-run ratio is 64-to-36.

“And a lot of that run is coming in the back end of games in the fourth quarter,” Crane explained, “so even that is just a smidge deceiving, because they’ve been up in so many games.”

Other receivers to look out for include Nathaniel Acevedo (8), Cole Wiechring (17), Jesus Ibarra (7) and Riley Torres (13). Hobbs, however, is the main playmaker.

Trying to stop an offense such as Pleasanton’s will be a tough task for the Apaches defense. However, if the Apaches can improve on their third down defense, that would be key in knocking off the Eagles.

“They’re going to score a touchdown against us,” Crane said, “and we got to keep playing, create turnovers, win the third downs, get a couple of stops and get the ball back to our offense.”

The Eagles run an odd-front, with their secondary in either Cover 4 or “man free.”

“They got athletes, linebackers and defensive front guys that can go,” Crane said.

Players to look out for include linebacker Cass Campbell (44) and nose guard Louis Arguijo (77).

The key for the Apaches offense is to continue to lean on their offensive line for running lanes and for pass protection. Last week, quarterback Marvin Cardoza went 11-of-17 for 125 passing yards including one touchdown and one interception. Meanwhile, the team rushed 46 times for 257 yards, a 5.6 yards per play average.

“We thought our offensive line had a good game last week,” Crane said. “That was a good defensive front. Cameron Mileham played extremely well, he was one of our offensive MVPs. Hopefully we could continue to build off of that.”

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Pleasanton. La Vernia plays at Beeville Jones at 7:30 pm. While Boerne takes a bye this week.