LA VERNIA -- A team needs to play near-perfect football to knock off someone with a perfect record. The Gonzales Apaches (4-5, 2-1) were nowhere near perfection as they took their first lost in district against the La Vernia Bears (8-0, 2-0) 43-10.
Before the game, head coach Kodi Crane pointed at La Vernia quarterback Clayton Chadwick as the key to that offense. Sure enough, Chadwick proved to be a problem for the Apaches defense, causing many defenders to miss with his elusive scrambling.
“We knew with the length and the height and the speed of their receivers, we had to get [Chadwick] uncomfortable and we did that, but he is so elusive,” Crane said. “He’s feeble enough on foot to make a play or two and he did that.”
Chadwick accounted for all five offensive touchdowns, scoring twice on the ground and three times over the air, including passes of 35 yards out, 14 yards out on 3-and-5 and 34 yards on 4th-and-8.
What set up those touchdown plays were long receptions, including a 36-yard catch from the ground by La Vernia’s Daryl Dulak on a 3rd-and-4 play. A few plays later, Chadwick ran the ball in on 4th and goal from the 1.
“Those big plays were made, and that’s not taking anything away from them, they went out and they made them and did a great job of it,” Crane said. “They made plays, they made plays throughout the course of the game. That’s a good football team right there.”
Offensively, Gonzales was limited to just 10 points as La Vernia packed the box, frustrating the Apaches and forcing three interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown.
“We tried to take a few shots vertical which didn’t work out, for one reason or another,” Crane explained, “and [La Vernia] packed the box. They did a good job of packing the box. That’s a good, big, strong, physical football team.”
Gonzales quarterback Marvin Cardoza was also sacked three times for big losses which stalled drives for the offense.
Although late, the bye week comes at a pivotal point for the Gonzales Apaches who now fight for playoff seeding after Boerne gave Beeville their third loss of the district season. Elijah Holiday was out for the second half with an injury, forcing the Apaches to bring in Zach Davis and even Seth Gibson on offense as running backs.
“Zach did a great job, absolutely,” Crane said of his backs. “Seth came off the field one time and I said, ‘running back?’ He said, ‘coach, back to my JV years.’ That’s the thing, we got a couple [players] tweaked up and take Seth who’s a great kid, a smart kid and put him in there and he knows exactly what to do. He hadn’t played it in two years, since he’s a sophomore, we’re in our ninth game in his senior year and all of a sudden the second half of a major district game we say ‘Seth, go to running back,’ and he goes in there and knows what to do an executes.”
With the loss, Crane knows there is still plenty of things to work on, and with the open week, the Apaches have a list of what to work on these next two weeks.
“We got to work things on our end , doing things right, the coverages that we’re in, the blocking, the first step, the head placement, the finishing, you know, just finish,” Crane said. “Against great football teams you got to be able to finish. We did some good things, we scored a touchdown on fourth down, which was an outstanding job. Daniel [Cruz] makes a great kick, but we have it in the positive territory a couple more times and it’s just [not finishing]. [If] we go finish those drives, now we’re knee-deep in a football game. I thought our kids played relentless tonight, they played physical. It’s a good high school football game.”
Apaches have an open week next week, then host Boerne the following week.
Boerne knocked off Beeville Jones 45-38, giving Beeville their third loss in district. The standings are now La Vernia 2-0, Boerne 2-0, Gonzales 2-1, Pleasanton 0-2, Beeville 0-3. La Vernia, Boerne and Gonzales have officially clinched the playoffs.