GONZALES — A win and they were in. That’s all the Gonzales Apaches (6-4, 3-2) needed to do as they hosted the Smithville Tigers for Senior Night at Apache Field. Gonzales did that and more, knocking off the Tigers (7-3, 2-3) 42-12 in what was described as a “total team effort.”
“This was probably the most complete game I’ve seen since I’ve been in Gonzales,” Head Coach Kodi Crane said. “It was domination from absolute start to finish. I can’t bring enough. [Smithville is] a good football team. That’s a 7-3 football team that’s staying home.”
Crane did bring up a Gonzales’ 46-28 victory over Pleasanton in 2015 as a comparable victory. The Apaches went two rounds deep that season.
The win, along with Caldwell’s (4-5, 3-2) victory knocking off La Grange (0-9, 0-5), locked in the Apaches to third place in District 10-4A2.
The Apaches opened the game with a fumble recovery on the kickoff. Gonzales then drove down the field on a 14-play, 63-yard touchdown drive that was aided by Smithville penalties. Quarterback Garrett Rickman capped off the drive on a read-option keep from four yards out. The Apaches added another touchdown midway through the second quarter, a two-yard rush by Colby Cox.
Meanwhile, the defense was relentless as they contained the rushing attack of Nomar Rivera and quarterback Zach Kirby.
Entering Friday’s game, Rivera led the district in rushing. The Apaches gave up just 46 yards of rushing to Rivera before he busted out an 84-yard touchdown run with 45 seconds left on the clock.
“That’s the leading rusher in the district and [the defense] just absolutely and totally shut him down,” Crane said. “How proud we are? [I] can’t even begin to describe. My hats off to these kids, they played their tails off.”
As the defense frustrated Smithville’s offense, the Apaches offense were rolling, using multiple running backs in the backfield as carries were split between Kalub Carrizales, James Martinez, Elijah Holiday, Ja’Corveon Walton and Garrett Rickman. Trevion McNeil and Colby Cox also had some carries in special play packages.
The Apaches didn’t need to pass it too much, but when they did, they connected, including a 21-yard grab by McNeil. Holiday scored from 26-yards out, Martinez scored on a 10-yard carry and later a three-yard carry to give the Apaches the 42-6 lead. Kicker Daniel Cruz was perfect on point-after kicks, and even nailed a 37-yard field goal, though Smithville jumped offsides, giving the Apaches a first down and negating the field goal.
“Right there was our best football,” Crane said. “Period, bottom line, no question, that was our best football right there because it was against such a good team. That’s a good … that running back? My gosh. He’s next level. That quarterback? They’re phenomenal.”
The win, along with results from around the district, gave the Apaches a third seed headed into the playoffs. Their first playoff game is against Mexia (5-5, 3-2), the second-place team in District 9-4A2. Mexia previously defeated Caldwell 35-12, though it was a non-district bout on Sept. 29.
The game is scheduled for this Friday, Nov. 17, at 7:30 p.m. at Georgetown.