By BILL PETERSON
Editor at Large
BUDA – Hays High School football coach Bob Shelton saw signs last Friday that his team is rounding into form just at the right time.
The Rebels played their best and most complete game of the season at Manor, posting a 51-13 win to clinch a playoff berth and clearly establish them as the team to catch in District 17-4A. The Rebels put up 537 offensive yards, including 446 on the ground, while holding a speedy Manor team to 171 yards of total offense.
It’s been, more or less, the plan all along for this Hays team to come up late in the year, given its youth. And, typically for a Hays team, it is turning more ground-oriented as the season progresses and the offense tightens up its execution.
“We thought we would get better later because of all the young players we have,” Shelton said. “We have three or four sophomores starting and we have a lot of juniors who are starting and getting a lot of playing time.”
Tonight, the Rebels can all but clinch their first district championship with a win against Del Valle at Bob Shelton Stadium (7:30 p.m.). A Hays victory and a Manor loss to Elgin would give the Rebels their first outright district championship since 1998.
“We’re aware of that,” Shelton said in his usual understated way.
The Rebels played last Friday night with a clear strategy of keeping the ball away from Manor’s offensive attack, which features a reliable quarterback in Riley Beecher and two tall, fast wide receivers. So, Hays pounded the ball along the ground and battered the Mustangs for a 30-7 halftime lead.
Del Valle (3-5 overall, 2-1 District 17-4A) has produced a season of mixed signals in the district, including wins of 34-33 against Lockhart and 44-14 against Lehman, as well as a 40-13 loss to Manor. It remains, though, that a Del Valle victory against Hays, combined with a win next week against Elgin, would give the Cardinals no worse than a first-place tie in the district, and they would hold the bragging rights for winning head-to-head.
“It’s hard to know which team is going to show up,” Shelton said. “At times, they’ve played good, and, at other times, they’ve been not so good. I expect that they’ll come here and play well against us.”
The Rebels (5-3, 3-0) feature multiple rushing threats. Sophomore running back Torrance Smith went for 170 yards against Manor, pushing himself up to 557 for the season, and he has found the end zone 18 times. Quarterback Trey Berry leads the team with 743 rushing yards, and running back Billy Gandy is right in the mix with 529.
Junior quarterback Sam Breyfogle has emerged as the clear choice when Hays wants to throw the ball, completing 40 of 69 passes this year for 597 yards. Berry has added another 518 passing yards, completing 28 of 54 passes.Email | Print