An open – or “bye” – week on the football schedule usually means a chance to not only regroup and have the entire coaching staff out on a Friday night to scout future opponents, but to also get in an extra week of practice ahead of your next opponent.
But, hey, its 2020 – so the usual is now the unusual.
For Gonzales High School and its 4A-2 District 13 competition, the bye week found all six teams off. So, no team’s coaching staff got to scout en masse. While teams got that extra week ahead of their respective district openers on Friday, Oct. 9, none will have the advantage of have two weeks of practice to a single week for an opponent.
“The byes I’ve had recently – and by recently I mean the last decade – they’ve been a true been advantage bye where the other team was playing and you had a bye on them,” said Apache head coach Mike Waldie. “This is the first bye for everyone that I can remember.”
Nixon-Smiley, meanwhile, hosts Natalia. (See mroe below)
The bye week also created unwelcome “good-byes” as Waldie learned two starters will be lost for the season due to injuries to safety Josh Esparza and inside linebacker Zachary Box.
The team will also be without Jeremiah Hastings and Aaron Guerrero, who are still recovering from injuries.
The rash of injuries created the need for a bit of a Texas two-step for Waldie and his staff during the open week.
The plan to have a rotations in order to give two-way players a break are being reset. T.J. Riojas moves to corner, corner Victor Izaguirre moves to safety. Braden Barfield will move into a two-way starter role, after starting at and playing spot situations at defensive back. Russell Thomas, who started at linebacker last year before moving to the defensive line, will shift back to linebacker with Box’s injury. Kamren Leal will move up from the freshman team to help with depth at linebacker and replace Thomas on special teams.
“It is turning into one of those years that I hope we pull a rabbit out of the hat here and then talk about how awesome it was for the core of this team to stay together and the youth of this team to rise up,” Waldie said.
The Giddings Buffaloes enter district with a 3-2 record, with wins over Caldwell (50-14), Taylor (46-12), and Columbus (33-28), and losses to Navarro (21-17) and Bellville (34-31).
“They get better every game, so I want to play now be the get even better,” Waldie said.
Holden Jatzlau is a junior in his first year starting at quarterback. Waldie said Jatzlau knows the system well and is accurate with his passes to receivers Gage Jaehne (a four-year starter) and Bryson Kleinart.
Waldie said the key will be stopping the Buffaloes’ spread-oriented offense from establishing the running game inside the tackles given the team’s solid trio of running backs. Giddings sets up the pass off success running.
“They’re not real fancy, but they’re really, really good at what they do over and over,” Waldie said.
The pivotal battle, however, will be between the Buffaloes defensive line and the Apaches offensive line.
“Their four defensive lineman use their hands and get off blocks as well as any high school kids – as a group – that I’ve seen in years,” Waldie said. “… These guys just kind of anchor down and change the line of scrimmage.”
Waldie said that the Apaches will have to do things with the passing game to help the offensive line as Giddings stays in a 4-2 formation on defense.
“Six beats five every time,” Waldie said.
The conservatism in playing time that was used through the non-district slate is, as planned, will cease with the start of district play that has six teams vying for four playoff spots.
“We’re now at the point where literally one week at a time,” Waldie said. “Whatever we have to do to win this game and worry about next week after.”
Interestingly, Waldie thinks the adversity through the 1-4 non-district season will pay long-term benefits because it forced him to expedite the transition from last year’s Wing-T offense to a spread-oriented system that is being used from the varsity team on down.
“There are skill kids throughout the system that this offense will benefit,” Waldie said.
The Nixon-Smiley High School football team resumes 3A-2 District 15 play after a week off.
The Mustangs (0-2, 2-3) have their work cutout if they hope to make a repeat trip to the playoffs, with seven teams vying for four playoffs spots.
The Mustangs lost their first two district games – including a loss to previously winless Stockdale – and now will spend the next four weeks having to try to run the table, or at least win three of four games.
The trek starts with the Mustangs’ homecoming game against their namesakes with the Natalia Mustangs Friday, Oct. 9.
Natalia is 2-1 in district, and sitting in third place. Their lone loss was a 21-20 loss to Stockdale (2-1, 2nd place). So, with a win, Nixon-Smiley would add a wrinkle to the potential head-to-head tiebreakers.
That will be followed by an Oct. 16 road trip to undefeated Poth, a home game against George West (1-1, tied 4th) – which lost to Natalia, but beat Nixon-Smiley, and a district finale Oct. 30 at Dilley (0-3, 7th).
The Mustangs are coming off a pre-open week non-district 22-21 win over Skidmore-Tynan that was secured by Xavier Arias hit a 15-yard field goal as time expired.
Sophomore Bradyn Martinez rushed for 157 yards and two touchdowns. The non-district win snapped a three-game losing streak.
In all, the Mustangs rushed for 301 yards and complete one pass for nine yards – snapping a streak of three consecutive games where they were held under 200 yards in total offense.