By BILL PETERSON
The two Hays CISD football teams each open their District 17-4A seasons Friday night, each coming from a different direction and each surprisingly situated.
The Hays Rebels are 0-5 for the first time since 1970. But the Rebels remain, perhaps, the leading favorite in District 17-4A after sweeping to a 5-0 record against that group last year.
The Lehman Lobos are 4-1, already setting their single-season record for victories in their fourth year of varsity football. Yet, the past has the reverse influence on Lehman’s prospects, for the Lobos have never won a district game in 19 attempts.
So, are these teams what the past says they are? Or are they what 2009 says they are? Or are they both, and neither?
The answers will start being whispered Friday evening, when Lehman goes to Manor and Hays plays Elgin at Bob Shelton Stadium. Both games begin at 7:30 p.m.
Of course, Hays coach Bob Shelton was there in 1970, when the Rebels began 0-5 in their third year of varsity football. When you start 0-5, even if you are a local institution, you have some explaining to do, and Shelton isn’t far from persuasive.
“No, it’s not a lot of fun,” said Shelton, the only head coach in 42 Hays football seasons, about 0-5. “But we’ve played a lot of good teams. We feel like we’ve learned a lot from it … I don’t know that we’ve ever played a tougher (non-district) schedule.”
The Rebels have lost to District 25-5A teams Bastrop, Anderson and Bowie, lost to District 26-4A McCallum and also lost at Rosenberg Lamar, which is two years removed from winning a Class 4A state championship. The five Hays opponents were a combined 16-8 entering this week’s games (one of those results was Anderson beating Bowie last week).
If that schedule doesn’t sound especially tough to the long-standing Hays fan, it’s because the Rebels used to mix it up with those local Class 5A teams. But that was before the effects of opening a second high school in the district settled in, while move-ins with football talent seem to have side-stepped Hays County.
The last time Hays lost all its district games was 1999, when the Rebels started 0-3. Then, they finished 6-1 in a very tough District 27-4A. Two rounds into the playoffs, they avenged their elimination from a year earlier with a 19-10 win against unbeaten Belton at Bob Shelton Stadium. The ride didn’t end until the state quarterfinals in a 24-23 loss to Alice in the Astrodome.
“We played a couple pretty good teams in non-district that year — Georgetown and Round Rock McNeil,” Shelton said. “But our team ended up being pretty good.”
At 1-4, Elgin doesn’t enter Friday night’s game on a high note, especially after losing its last two games at Pflugerville Hendrickson and at Giddings by a combined score of 75-10. Elgin’s only win came, 28-22, against Austin Lanier, on 0-7 outfit that has allowed 42 points or more six times, 54 points or more three times and 68 points or more twice.
Put simply, the Rebels have played better teams than Elgin this year.
“We’re trying to take it one game at a time,” Shelton said. “Elgin this week is the big game for us. It’s even bigger, trying to get something positive going.”
The Rebels have struggled offensively and defensively. On offense, the Rebels average 271.6 yards per game. By comparison, Hays opponents average 270.2 yards per game on the ground alone. Overall, the Rebels give up 454.2 yards per game.
Hays quarterback Sam Breyfogle is still trying to find his way after completing only 49 of 102 passes so far for 741 yards, six interceptions and three touchdowns. Trace Gandy leads the ground attack with 246 rushing yards.
The Lobos are still kicking themselves because they’re not 5-0. Their only loss came two weeks ago, 23-22 to Gonzales. The Lobos took a 22-16 lead when Jacob Torres ran 67 yards for a touchdown with 2:57 left. But a personal foul penalty against Lehman, enforced on the ensuing kickoff, enabled Gonzales to start its next possession at its own 45. Before long, Gonzales’ Ckody Burton made an acrobatic catch for a 34-yard touchdown, and the Lobos lost for the first time.
With two weeks between that bitter loss and another game, Lehman coach Steve Davis said the team has worked on its mental toughness so as to eliminate similar penalties in the future. The Lobos could do with cutting down penalties, generally. In their average game, the Lobos are penalized 12 times for 95.6 yards.
But the optimism is running high on Lehman Road, where the Lobos are preparing for a meeting with 0-5 Manor. The Lobos can almost taste a playoff appearance down the road. Playing in a six-team district that will qualify four teams for the playoffs, the Lobos are likely to enter the postseason if they can win two of their last five games.
The Lobos are averaging 382.6 offensive yards per game, 280 of them on the ground. Defensively, the Lobos have allowed only 260.6 yards per game, including 145 on the ground.
“It’s a big game, and we’re looking forward to it,” Davis said of Friday night’s trip to Manor. “We’re going to go out there and get our first district win.”
Torres is carrying a lot of the offense with 580 rushing yards and eight touchdowns in 68 carries. John Martell has added 270 yards on 27 carries.
The Lobos remain somewhat up in the air at quarterback between sophomore Matt Anguiano and junior Harvest Trammell, who have split time this year. As of late Thursday, Davis still didn’t know who would start Friday night.
“I’ve been evaluating it week to week,” said Davis, who added that he would like for one of them to establish that he is the quarterback. “The quarterback has to be a leader and command respect from the other guys in the huddle.”
The two quarterbacks are close to even statistically. Anguiano has completed 15 of 39 passes for 261 yards, while Trammell has completed 16 of 35 passes for 206 yards. Trammell is the more mobile quarterback with 82 rushing yards, compared with minus-39 rushing yards for Anguiano.
The knock against Lehman is a notoriously weak schedule. For example, the Massey Ratings say the Lobos have played the 228th toughest schedule out of 238 Class 4A teams in Texas.
But the Lobos have, mostly, dominated against that schedule. Which doesn’t mean the Lobos are among the favorites in District 17-4A. It would suffice for the Lobos to finish in the middle of the league and go to the playoffs.
Shelton and Davis both mentioned 4-1 Del Valle as the most impressive district team so far. The Cardinals open the district season Friday night at Lockhart.
“It’s going to be a challenge every week,” Davis said.
It’s going to be a challenge for Hays, too. But at least the slate is clean, because the district games are the only games that determine playoff position. For Hays, that’s very good news. For Lehman, it’s still too early to tell.Email | Print