With two games remaining in the regular season, the Hays Rebels already are in the playoffs. But they’ve still got a lot to play for in those last two weeks.
With a win Friday night at Del Valle, the Rebels would clinch at least a tie for the District 17-4A championship, and they would win the tiebreaker because the only other team with a chance to catch them would be Del Valle.
There’s more. After starting the season 0-5 against a tough slate of non-district opponents, the Rebels need to win both games to avoid their first losing regular season since they finished 3-7 in 1985. With 23 straight non-losing seasons, the Rebels are on one of the longest such streaks around.
The Rebels are 3-0 in District 17-4A and 3-5 overall. But while the Rebels go into Friday night’s game as the defending district champion trying for two in a row, Del Valle is 3-0 in the league and 7-1 overall, hoping to establish itself as the king of the league.
“We expect them to be sky high, and they have every reason to be,” Hays head coach Bob Shelton said.
The Cardinals also have every reason to think they ought to be able to beat Hays, though they haven’t done it in well more than ten years. The Rebels barely escaped the last two times these teams have played.
Last season, the Rebels clinched the district with a 30-22 win against Del Valle at Bob Shelton Stadium. Del Valle made it 30-22 with 1:50 left as Josef Cortez threw a 12-yard touchdown pass, then Cortez connected with Davion Johnson for the two-point conversion. Del Valle then recovered the onside kick and appeared to be in business. On the next play, Cortez completed a pass to Johnson, who, without even being hit, inexplicably dropped the ball on the Hays 26. Kyle Wirth recovered for the Rebels, who ran out the clock for the win.
The 2007 game at Bob Shelton Stadium was even stranger. Del Valle took a 29-21 lead on a 26-yard run by Travis Collins-Johnson with 3:44 left. The Del Valle coach at the time, Chip Mayfield, tried to go for two, even though a simple kick would have been good for a nine-point lead. Failing the two-point conversion, Del Valle held only an eight-point lead. Jaws dropped on the Rebels sideline as the game shifted to their side at that moment.
“That was a mistake by me,” Mayfield said that night. “I had done the math in my head earlier and I’m not very good at math. I thought we were at nine and I was trying to get it to 11. That was a mistake on my part.”
As Shelton put it on the field after that game, “I thought at the time, ‘Man … ‘”
The Rebels took over at their own 18 with 3:39 and moved downfield. On fourth and 13 from the Del Valle 29 with 1:44 left, wide receiver Paul Breyfogle ran a pattern to the end zone, chased a pass from quarterback Clayton Rogers, and reached over his head to barely clasp the top half of the ball, tucking it in as he tumbled to a touchdown. Rogers connected with Brandon Lawrence for the two-point conversion to tie the game before the Rebels won, 36-35, in double overtime. In that game, Breyfogle set school records with nine catches for 179 yards.
Breyfogle’s younger brother, Sam Breyfogle, now is the Hays quarterback, and he’s on a bit of a hot streak since the Rebels cut back on the passing game during the district season. In three district games, the younger Breyfogle has thrown only 20 times, but he has completed 15 of them for 407 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions.
The passing attack has been especially effective in the last three weeks due to a Hays running game that has been unstoppable by the district. In three district games, the Rebels have rushed for 929 yards, right about 310 yards per game. In those games, Trace Gandy has rushed for 311 yards and a touchdown, Torrance Smith has rushed for 262 yards and eight touchdowns, and Anthony Garza has rushed for 245 yards and four touchdowns.
Against district opponents, the Rebels are averaging 433.3 offensive yards per game, while their defense is allowing less than half of that — 215.3 yards per game.
“We’re playing good defensively, and I feel like we’re kind of playing our best football right when we need to be doing that,” Shelton said.
As always, the Cardinals will bring a lot of skilled athletes to the field, including Cortez and Johnson. They also have a new coach, Courtney Wash, who, said Shelton, “was able to get a lot of their kids back out for football.”
And they’re out with a chance to win a district championship. In recent years, Del Valle often shaped up as a trap game for the Rebels, who usually had to guard against looking to bigger challenges ahead. But this one is different. It’s for the district title.Email | Print