Will Homecoming and home cooking get the Gonzales High School football team on track?
After a 47-16 shellacking at La Vernia Sept. 18, the Apaches fell to 0-4 in non-district play.
On Friday, Sept. 25, the team plays its homecoming game against the Jarrell Cougars with a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
The matchup pits two teams each looking for their first win of the year in their final game before starting district. Jarrell has been outscored 219 to 61, while the Apaches are on a 157-43 scoring deficit.
Being winless four weeks into the season is an unfamiliar place for Apache head coach Mike Waldie.
“This is the first time I’ve ever been 0-4 to start a season,” Waldie said. “As a competitor, I’m really taking it personally. It’s been tough for the team – and hard on Coach Waldie, too.”
Jarrell and Gonzales have common opponents this season in Burnet and Fredericksburg. Jarrell lost to Burnett, 46-6, while Gonzales lost, 29-21. Against Fredericksburg, Jarrell lost 54-14, while Gonzales fell 46-6.
Jarrell’s other losses were to Smithville (63-6) and McGregor (56-35).
After facing 4A-1 schools in its first four games, the Apaches face a 4A-2 team in Week 5.
The Apaches’ other loss came against El Campo (35-0) in week one.
“The have two special players at quarterback (Aden Edgar) and running back (Derrick Warren),” Waldie said. “Their running back might be the fastest player on the field Friday. “
Warren rushed for 1,002 and 13 touchdowns last year. Edgar was the backup quarterback last year.
The Apaches will likely be down five starters due to injury, including Braden Barfield, Jacob Bakken, and Jeremiah Hastings.
Waldie said game keys will be to improve the snaps from center (which have caused fumbles and loss yardage), getting better play from the blocking backs, running the ball to the team’s ability, and to finish drives with points.
Against La Vernia, Gonzales had two goals: Get points and lead early, and avoid the offensive barrage La Vernia can unleash.
And for a few precious moments, it looked like that just might happen.
One the first play after the opening kickoff, Apaches quarterback Darren Johnson took the ball up the middle for a 68-yard score and a 7-0 lead – the team’s first lead of the season.
The defense then stopped the Bears on a 4th-and-6 from its 43.
Gonzales marched to the La Vernia eight before a false start penalty, a run for a loss and an incomplete pass force it to settle for Jonathan Tejada’s 34-yard field goal from the 17.
The 10-0 Apaches lead didn’t last.
The Bears unleashed big play after big play to score the game’s next 40 points that tossed early optimism into the ash heap.
Especially backbreaking were scores that came on potential drive-ending downs.
• A 49-yard touchdown pass on a 4th-and-7 play.
• A 38-yard touchdown pass on a 4th-and-12 play.
• A 39-touchdown pass on a 4th-and-10 play.
Also rearing its ugly head again for the third time this season was the Apaches’ inability to close out the first half without allowing an opponent’s score.
Down 20-10 with less than two minutes left in the first half, the Apaches couldn’t sustain a drive and punted from their own 34. The punt was short, setting up the Bears on their own 47.
Six plays later, the Bears scored on a pass off a 4th-and-12 play to put the Apaches down 26-10 at the half – and with the Bears receiving the opening kickoff of the second half.
“If we hold them, it’s a two-score game; if we score, it’s a one-score game,” Waldie said. “That last-minute score was literally back-breaking.”
The Apaches missed on several opportunities like a fake punt that didn’t get the first down, an incompletion on an open running back pass, and a fumble lost at the Bears’ 2-yard line.
The Apaches added a touchdown in the final quarter on Johnson’s 1-yard dive.