Coming into the season, Mustangs head coach Pablo Ybarra knew that a key to his team’s success this season rested with his Nixon-Smiley High School team staying healthy.
The wheels have come off that plan, with five starters hurt – adding to the challenges of the team’s 1-4 start and early 0-2 hole in District 15 3A-2 play.
If there is a bright spot, the team plays a non-district game Friday, Sept. 25 against the 3A-2 District 16 Skidmore-Tynan Bobcats before heading into an open week ahead of its last four district games.
The Bobcats are 2-1 and are coming off a 7-6 loss to Santa Gertudis Academy. The Bobcats defeated Kenedy (20-18) and Robstown (25-14) to open the season.
The Bobcats have a passer in Willis Tinsley. Running back Nico Jamamillo will also throw the ball on trick plays.
““We have a game plan to win,” Ybarra said. “A lot of younger players will get to play, and we also get to rest kids that are too hurt to play.”
Into the breech goes sophomore Bradyn Martinez, who will start at quarterback in place of injured senior Xavier Arias.
With or without Arias, the run-dominated Mustangs continued to struggle last week in a 45-0 loss George West. The Mustangs managed just 133 yards in total offense and seven first downs while running 50 offensive plays. It is the third game in a row that the offense has not broken the 200-yard mark.
Fumbling the ball five times – and losing three – did not help the team’s cause.
Coming off the bench, Martinez completed his lone pass for six yards and led the team with 64-yards rushing on 21 carries. Expect to see more of freshman Ivan Loera, who had 30 yards on eight carries in support of senior Jesse Riojas, who finished with 34.
The Longhorns, meanwhile, rolled up 382 yards in total offense again what is becoming a porous Mustang defense.
“We need to eliminate mistakes,” Ybarra said. “Especially with the younger kids. On Friday, we drove the ball on Golden West, but were out of our routine with the turnovers. We are playing younger kids to get better – tyring to get as much out of them as we rest the other kids.”