By BILL PETERSON
Editor at Large
BUDA – It’s supposed to be a rivalry, but, somehow, it isn’t. The two Hays CISD high schools, Hays and Lehman, are playing football tonight at the home field they share, Bob Shelton Stadium. It’s a home game for Lehman without being a road game for Hays, which speaks to the status of these two programs.
Of course, it’s a home game for Rebels. It’s on their campus, where they go to school every day. It’s at the football stadium where they’ve built memories for decades and inspired generations to build on those memories.
Lehman is the young, struggling program that Hays was decades ago, and the team is settling for the rewards of football because it’s not taking the rewards of winning.
Tonight’s Hays-Lehman game doesn’t even come to this final night of the regular season with any particular stakes, so far as the standings go. Hays (6-3 overall, 4-0 District 17-4A) already has clinched the district and knows its going to the playoffs next week. Lehman (3-6, 0-4) has clinched last place and knows its season ends tonight.
Hays has won the only two games in this series, with last year’s 51-13 win being the closer of the two. Judging from the lopsided losses Lehman has taken during its present five-game losing streak, a similar score could be in the cards.
For the Lobos, tonight is the last opportunity of the year to win its first district game in 19 tries during three seasons of varsity football. For the Rebels, tonight is about not being the team on the receiving end.
“Nobody wants to be the first team to lose to Lehman,” Hays quarterback Trey Berry said.
Said Lehman head coach Steve Davis, “There’s no next week for us. This is it. For it to be a rivalry, there has to be some kind of history of beating the other team, so it’s another game for us that we’re trying to win.”
Lehman’s leading bright spot, running back R.J. Hardaway, has run for 1,278 yards and 13 touchdowns in 188 carries. However, the Lobos have little else in a consistent offensive attack. With a lot of players going both ways, games come apart quickly for Lehman, which tends to follow a turnover with a poor play by its defense.
The Rebels are continuing to develop a young team going to the final week of the regular season and preparing for the playoffs. They’re rounding into such a balanced offense that they’re averaging a very respectable 371.7 offensive yards per game, yet they may end the season without a 1,000-yard rusher for the first time in many years.
Berry leads the team in rushing with 845 yards from the quarterback position. But he’s sharing carries with Billy Gandy (609 yards) and Torrance Smith (583 yards). And Berry is sharing quarterback snaps with Sam Breyfogle, who now is the team’s top passer with 44 completions in 76 attempts for 650 yards.
When Breyfogle plays quarterback, Berry plays wide receiver. Wherever he plays, though, the offense runs through Berry, who has had his hand in nearly half of Hays’ yards this year. Between rushes, passes and his 13 pass receptions, Berry has 1,553 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Against Lehman, there’s a good chance Berry can fatten up those numbers. Such small stakes are all that remain in this game, which hasn’t become a rivalry.
“We can’t afford to overlook them,” Hays coach Bob Shelton said. “We need to have good momentum going to the playoffs.”
Win or lose, Hays is going to the playoffs. No one is predicting it won’t be win.Email | Print