WACO — In the Gonzales Apaches (2-4) final test before the district season, the offensive line was the story of the night, despite the team taking a 38-21 loss against the Mineral Wells Rams (5-0) on the road at Waco ISD Stadium.
Head Coach Kodi Crane wanted to see the offense advance the ball through a much more efficient pass game and the team did just that, with Marvin Cardoza completing 10 of his 16 pass attempts for 137 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Meanwhile, the running back corps combined for nearly 270 yards rushing on 45 carries.
“Absolutely, that’s the biggest positive coming out of this game,” Crane said of the passing efficiency, “bIggest positive. Offensively, I think our offensive line — it always starts up front — our offensive line did a great job with protection, our receivers caught the ball and Marvin threw some good passes.”
The defense struggled to get off the field as Mineral Wells punted just once, converting six out of 10 third downs and converting both fourth downs the Rams’ offense went for.
“We talked about that running back [Khalil Thompson], we talked about that receiver [D’ija Kennedy] and we had to limit them,” Crane said. “We did from time to time, but on the ‘money downs,’ they’re making plays. And it was a fourth down, actually two fourth downs. There were millions of third downs. And there’s a lot of factors involved in that. We got to do a better job preparing and number two we got to do a better job of executing.”
Of the Rams’ eight offensive drives, five finished in touchdowns, one finished with a short field goal, one was a punt and another was a fumble recovery by the Apaches.
The Apaches enter the district season with two wins and four losses. But Crane has been a part of multiple Gonzales teams that struggled in the non-district, but then found success in the district season.
“We explained that to them,” Crane said about the post-game talk with his athletes. “Everything is water under the bridge right now. It’s how bad do we want to go execute, how bad do we want to get better, how bad do we want to do the things it’s going to take to go through this district. In this district, in all the polls that are separated, we, right now, how many games have we played, six? So right now we have a 5-0, 5-0, 4-1, 4-1, you know. These guys can all play.”
The Apaches travel to Pleasanton next Friday for their district opener.