GONZALES — With the excitement of a tri-district championship wearing off, the Gonzales Apaches (5-5, 3-1) now have their eyes set at achieving another goal, which is a deep playoff run in the Class 4A-DI bracket. Up first are the Kingsville King Brahmas (5-5, 2-2) who took third in their district behind La Feria and Zapata.
The Brahmas are a spread team, usually lined up in trips with good skill players such as Tarance Carter (2), Ethan Bazan (3), Lupe Cavazos (5) and Jacob Villarreal (4).
“They are a good football team,” Crane said. “They are an explosive offensive football team. They have some kids that can play the game and can go.”
As been the case with the Apaches defense for the past few weeks, the main focus will be on King’s quarterback, senior Raziel Garcia (13), who has a different set of skills than those in Gonzales’ district.
“He runs the ball well,” Crane scouted. “He has made a lot of money with his legs. He can throw it as well. He has some receivers that can get it. The difference is — and it worries me a little bit — he does not have the arm strength that the quarterbacks we’ve played since Mineral Wells have.”
The Apache head coach explained that quarterbacks in past games have had the arm strength to beat their corners deep, whereas with Garcia, because he doesn’t usually connect deep, his receivers tend to come back and grab those under-thrown balls, which then turn to big plays by the Brahmas. For defensive backs, one of the hardest plays to cover is those deep comebacks.
“We’re used to covering way down the field, so I’m a little worried about that,” Crane said. “Other than his arm strength, [Garcia] is an outstanding quarterback. He can be accurate with the ball, he can run the ball well, he can be efficient controlling and running his offense.”
On defense, the Brahmas are fast and aggressive and get to the football quick. They mix back and forth between giving a 4-3 look and an odd front. For the Apaches to counter this, the team will have to “impose their will,” Crane noted, especially because after 10 games of football, opponents know what Gonzales wants to do. Run the ball.
“Up front, we talked about the group of five offensive linemen all year and you can throw in JT [Esparza], Contrell [Smith], Lion [Williamson], heck, you can throw in our quarterback [Heath Henke] for blocking,” Crane said, “but all those blockers, they’ve got to be big, they’ve got to be physical, they’ve got to dominate and that’s what has to happen Thursday night.”
Last week provided a glimpse as to what the Apaches can do with their backs to the wall. Having to make such a late switch with their offense forced the team to make significant changes to not only their offense, with Henke starting at quarterback, but with their defense as well since Henke’s defensive snaps had to be limited. However, Crane believes last Friday against Boerne provided a formula for success with this version of the Gonzales Apaches, especially in an environment such as Apache Field’s last week.
“The first thing we saw is ultimate competitiveness,” Crane said after watching last week’s game film. “Our kids got after it, they had fun. The energy that the student section and the crowd brought our kids, it was second-to-none. We executed on an extremely high level and a lot of people did that. So with that, the competitiveness, the grit, the determination, the toughness, the mental toughness, along with the execution on a high level, those things we would like to continue to build off on as we move forward.”
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. in Jourdanton