Cubs show improvement in time for district opener
Despite making a statistical turnaround last Friday against Stamford High School, Olney took its sixth loss of the season, 55-0, to the Bulldogs.
The Cubs mounted a solid first drive, taking the ball to the Bulldogs’ 25-yard line with numerous converted fourth-down attempts, but the drive fizzled before they could score.
“We came out and did everything right in the first quarter,” Olney coach Mark Young said. “We had a couple of things go bad and we have to kick that habit in the butt. When things go bad, we have to play extra hard and recover from our mistakes. I’ve been telling them all year that if we do our job, like we’re supposed to, then we can play with anybody.”
The first two offensive series set the tone for the rest of the game, with the Cubs mounting long, methodical drives that came up short while the Bulldogs took the ball and struck quickly for a touchdown. After ending the first quarter facing a 7-point deficit, the game quickly spiraled out of control. Led by senior quarterback Wesley Gonzales, who tallied four touchdowns after completing 9 of 11 passes for 184 yards, the Bulldogs’ offense capitalized on the Cubs’ offensive shortcomings and scored most of their points on long plays as opposed to long drives.
Although the Cubs’ controlled the ball for most of the game, besting Stamford in time of possession by nearly 14 minutes, the drives came up empty on each series. Another Cubs’ improvement came in limiting its turnovers, dropping the total number of lost possessions from seven against Haskell, which mostly came from fumbles, to two, which were from interceptions. The Bulldogs’ 3-3 stack defense held the Cubs to just 89 yards of total offense, but Young said he can saw a dramatic improvement from his team, which returned from a 70-7 loss to Haskell. He added the Cubs’ biggest disadvantage this season has been their lack of available players, which mostly stems from mounting injuries.
“We did. It was not surprising to me,” Young said. “I’ve been telling them for the last six weeks ‘if do we we’re supposed to do, then we’re pretty good regardless of how many people we have to play.’ It takes its toll on us when we go on a 14-play drive and we can’t sub anybody. It’s hard for them to come off the ball at game speed. We work harder than anyone else in the state of Texas. My 11 or 12 guys play the whole game against their 20 or 22. When we get our whole squad back, we will be a lot better.”
The Cubs preparation for Friday’s district opener has been virtually the same as last week’s preparation for Stamford. They will host district foe Windthorst, who features an offensive and defensive scheme similar to Stamford’s.
On offense, the Trojans feature a variety of formations, mostly from the shotgun, that focus on getting around the corner and into open field. The Trojans also seem to be heating up just in time for district play with a 52-48 victory over Anson. Young said he looks to take advantage of personnel matchups against the 2-4 Trojans.
“They do a little bit of everything … They are pretty sound,” Young said. “[Senior running back/receiver Brady Tackett] is a pretty good physical receiver. Their quarterback is a good runner. He doesn’t throw the ball as well as he did in the past so we’re going to try and manipulate that. Their running backs are not a big group that will take the ball and try to run over you. We’re going to try and take advantage of their weaknesses.”
On defense, the Trojans have a similar philosophy, attack the edges and force the ball inside, which runs contrary to the attack the middle with stunts philosophy applied by Stamford last Friday. Olney senior lineman Raymond Carrasco said the Trojans’ defensive gameplan may be the Cubs greatest advantage heading into Friday because it allows the Cubs to use their quick guards to pull and use their momentum and superior numbers to stifle the Trojans’ attack on off-tackle runs.
“We have some pretty good speed up front,” Carrasco said. “We’re not the biggest, but we will do our best to try and get up in the holes.”
Despite still searching for their first win, Carrasco said the Cubs are 0-0 heading into district and that is when the games really start to count.
“It’s exciting … It’s like a whole new season coming into district,” Carrasco said. “We’re 0-0. People say ‘Windthorst always beats Olney year after year,’ and we’re going to come out Friday and try to prove them wrong.”
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.