The Gonzales Apache (7-2) football team is back in the playoffs for the seventh season in a row. Their first postseason test will be against the Rio Grande City Grulla Gators (4-6), the third place team out of District 16-4ADI. The last time Gonzales took on Grulla was in a 2015 bi-district game where the Apaches won 26-21.
The Apaches had an extra day of practice, with their regular season closer on Thursday instead of the usual Friday, and although head coach Mike Waldie and the rest of the coaching staff are preaching hard work and effort, especially since one loss means the season is over, Waldie admits that he’s doing what he can to enjoy the moment.
“You work so hard to get to this point that you got to be careful of letting distractions get in the way of the game,” Waldie said. “But at the same time, you got to enjoy life. I think I’m way better at this than I used to be, and I coach looser than I used to. Some people may not agree with that, but trust me, I’m a lot easier to get along with than I used to be. I just try to enjoy the moment a little bit more and try to put that to the kids. This is a special time in the year, there’s 63 teams and us competing for a state championship. That number will be down to 31 and us next week. It’s just a fun time.”
Of the 64 teams competing for the Class 4ADI championship, Grulla is a team that Waldie knew nothing of prior to Friday’s film study.
“I don’t know in my life that I’ve ever had that scenario,” he said. “I’ve always kind of had that idea of who we might play. I think that’s partly being new to South Texas, and to think that you would have a first-round matchup in any part of the country that’s four and a half hours away? That’s crazy. We can go through the whole bracket, and except a trip to ‘Jerry World,’ this could be our longest trip.”
After doing their homework, the Apaches coaching staff notes that the Gators run a spread kind of offense, showing multiple looks, including having multiple running backs lined up behind the quarterback.
“They’ve got a really good receiver-quarterback combination [and] a hard-nosed running back.” Waldie scouted.
Players to look out for include said quarterback #1 J.T. Trujio, receivers #4 Jesse Garza and #8 Roy Guzman and running backs #25 Jonathan Huerta and #44 Armando Ramirez.
Defensively, the Gators show an even front.
“They’re a true split,” Waldie said, “four down, two outside linebackers, based out of cover three and cover one.”
The biggest factor for the Apaches will be, as it’s been the last few weeks, winning the line of scrimmage battle and the turnover battle.
“What we’re now doing offensively allows us to go slow or fast, depending on how the game plays out, so I like that part of it,” Waldie said, “so we have to control the tempo of the game. Defensively, especially up front, I don’t care how much they throw the ball effectively, we’ve got to shut the run down.”
Kickoff for the bi-district matchup between Gonzales and Grulla takes place on Friday, Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. at Corpus Christi Flour Bluff.