BOERNE — Gonzales (7-2, 3-1) showed Thursday night in their 23-9 victory over Boerne (6-3, 2-2) how the Apaches can make a deep playoff run with their ability to run the ball, control the clock and dominate with an impressive defense.
Although the game was to determine who comes out of district as the second seed, the playoff path is nearly identical for the second or third seed out of District 15-4ADI. But even though the game wasn’t as high stakes as one that would determine a playoff berth, the first-year head coach did admit after the game that the win was an important one for his team.
“You try to say that to cover your bases but come on, the whole world wants to win that football game and try to beat a team like Boerne, well-coached, be 7-2,” he said. “I said from the very first game that we lost 17-16 [against Navarro], there’s no such thing as a moral victory. That being said, losing to two undefeated football teams at the end of the year that went 10-0, in the first year with this group of seniors and this group of kids? I mean, come on. I’m ecstatic for them. The problem is, we can’t enjoy it until Christmas about that part of it, [when] you can look back and say hey, what a great [season].”
The Apaches started the game with a quick three-play, 65-yard touchdown drive, highlighted by a 58-yard run by Cesar Matamoros that got the offense to the Boerne two-yard line. Diego Diaz de Leon ended the drive with a two-yard touchdown rush, with a little helpful push from his teammates.
“Early when you’re fresh, when you’re playing your best 11, we were explosive and we were fast,” Waldie explained.
But then, he added, when the Apaches got on defense, players like Matamoros and Diaz de Leon stayed on the field after playing on offense. When the team went back on offense, Waldie went with the clock-killing strategy, “milk” the clock, as he described, while also rotating in running backs.
Five different Apaches came away with carries, with Diaz de Leon and quarterback Heath Henke both coming away with one rushing touchdown each. Henke also found Matamoros wide open in the end zone off a play action pass, an 11-yard touchdown play. The touchdown came after a heads-up play by defensive lineman Ivan Reyna, who sniffed out a screen play and forced an interception, giving the offense the ball on the 11-yard line.
Waldie noted that the team practiced against the screen all week in practice and although they played “loose” in the first half, their halftime adjustments allowed the Apaches defense to take advantage of a Boerne offense that was kept out of the end zone for the first time all season.
“We switched up the coverage in the second half to allow us to go jump that ball,” Waldie said. “The defense has been phenomenal all year, we tackle well, our pass rush is dominant, our defensive backfield is tough, Coach [Charlie] Bunch and his staff do a phenomenal job.”
The Thursday night win provides a blueprint for the Apaches to have success in the playoffs. Gonzales is expected to have a long road trip in the bi-district round, so playing in the cold, going on a two-hour long bus ride and having to play on a Thursday instead of a Friday ends up being a “dry run” for the postseason, Waldie said.
“It’s everything that you need to do to beat the type of people, however this bracket works out,” he added.
The Gonzales Apaches finish district in second place, behind Beeville (10-0, 4-0). Their playoff opponents will be determined Friday, depending on who finishes District 16-4ADI as the third seed. But for Waldie, the Apaches are back to 0-0.
“Now we’re 0-0, we’re into the third season, the most important season, we need to do what Gonzales has done at times and that’s make a deep run,” he said, “and I think we have the makeup right now, the way we’re playing defense, our special teams, our kicking game and kind of our new wrinkles on offense.”