Old school rules for area playoff teams

November 21, 2010

In the day and age of the spread offense, there’s still a lot to be said for old-school, smash-mouth football.  Run the ball, play defense, advance in the playoffs.  That has been the mantra for every team in our coverage area that qualified for the post-season – Navarro in Class-3A, Division-II, Marion in Class-2A, Division-I, and even Lifegate in TAPPS Six-Man, Division-II.

With teams built around a strong running game and dominant defense, each program finds itself three rounds deep into the playoffs for the first time in the history of their respective schools. 

Navarro, as you’ve no doubt heard by now, put on a blocking and tackling CLINIC in its 31-0 shutout of San Antonio-Sam Houston at Lenhoff Stadium in Friday’s area round game.  The Hurricanes, coached by former Baylor All-American and NFL Pro Bowl cornerback Gary Green, were supposed to be an unstoppable combination of mamoth size and blinding speed, but they looked utterly and completely lost against a tougher, more physical Panther team that out-executed them in every facet of the game.

Sam Houston’s defensive line outweighed Navarro’s offensive line by an average of something close to 60 lbs per man, but it was the smaller Panthers who consistently won the battle up front, generated a big push off the ball, and as a result, churned out 414 rushing yards.  The statistical beneficiaries were backs Eric Schleier (207 yards, 3 TD), and Kirk Chalmers (161 yards), but let’s give big props to Zane Zimmerman, Ronnie Carter, Justin Velasquez, T.J. Shannon, Ruben Hernandez, tight-end Cody Jandt, and the rest of the o-line rotation for physically WHIPPING the bigger, allegedly more athletic Sam Houston defenders lined up on the other side. 

The Hurricanes boasted the same imposing size on their offensive line, and Navarro’s smaller defense held them to 14 total yards.  Digest that for a minute….FOURTEEN total yards.  That’s as dominant a defensive performance as you’ll ever see.  Zane Conline, Tate Johnson, Roman Esparza, and Travis Delany absolutely manhandled the collection of Sam Houston behemoths on the other side, and that allowed linebackers Chris Sestak, Schleier, Jordan Poole (who returned a pick 31 yards for Navarro’s first touchdown), and Sean Hancock, as well as d-backs John Bormann, Gage Bowles (also had an INT), and Bryan Aguilar to completely bottle up the Hurricanes explosive skill-position players like Javoi Lawson and JeQuan McBride.

Again…it comes back to blocking and tackling.  You’re not going to see a team in the Texas high school football playoffs, at any level, who does those two things better than the Navarro Panthers.  Might see a bigger team.  Might see a faster team.  Might see a team with more talent and more future college players.  But you will not, will not, and I mean WILL NOT see a team that executes better or gets any more out of the talent it does have than Navarro. 

Go check the Panthers out against Mathis (another Slot-T team) in the 3A-Division-II Region 4 semifinals this Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Rutledge Stadium in Converse.  If you can’t attend, listen to the broadcast on 1580-AM, KWED, or at www.seguintoday.com.   

Marion has also won its first two playoff games by running the ball and playing defense, but the Bulldogs are as versatile on offense as any 2A team you’ll find.  They’ll line up in the I-formation on one play with a fullback and tight end, and without changing their personnel grouping, they’ll line up in a five-wide spread with an empty backfield on the next snap. 

Sean Hesler has been spectacular in two post-season games, delivering Youtube worthy (heck…SportsCenter worthy) highlight-reel quality touchdown runs against both Hempstead and George West.  His summersault in the air over two defenders and into the end zone against the Longhorns last Thursday (33-7 Marion win) was breathtaking to watch.  Tailback Doug Giles has been the meat-and-potatoes man, gashing defenses between the tackles.  Fullback Sean Wolff might lead block out of the I on one play, carry for 12 yards on the next, and catch a 30-yard pass on a skinny post out of the slot on the next.  Tight-end Austin Langemeier can flex out as a wide receiver at any time, and wideout Nathan DeHoyos is a lock for First Team All-District 13-2A, D-I at his position after leading the district in catches and receiving yards during the regular season.  Versatility is the name of the game for these guys, but it’s still the power running game that allows everything to fall into place.

As for Marions’ defense?  How about an average of seven points and 135 total yards per game allowed through two playoff games.  How about 60 total yards for three-plus quarters for George West after its initial 80-yard TD drive in the Bulldogs 33-7 win Thursday night.  Defensive ends Derek Pierce and Langemeier are emerging as a nightmarish tandem for opposing O-lines to deal with, middle linebacker Victor Garza is as sure a tackler as you’ll see, and Hesler and DeHoyos are so good in the secondary that Marion has the luxury of loading extra guys in the box to defend the run.  This isn’t to leave anybody else out, but those are the guys who really stood out against George West. 

Again…run the ball, play defense, advance.

Marion meets Lago Vista – a team that defeated the Bulldogs 46-20 on October 22 en route to the District 13-2A, D-I championship – in the third round of the playoffs at Burger Stadium in Austin on Saturday at 7 p.m.  Of course, we’ll have the broadcast live on 1580-AM, KWED, and at www.seguintoday.com, with pre-game coverage at 6 p.m.

Lifegate follows this formula as well, though most wouldn’t associate those principles with six-man football.   When you think six-man football, you think wide open.  You think choose up sides in the back yard – one mississippi, two mississippi, three mississippi, five guys running deep, throw it deep.  Lifegate can certainly play that way if needs or wants to, but the Falcons’ bread and butter has been keeping the ball on the ground with Matt Akin and Caleb Tate, a duo that has been virtually unstoppable this season. 

You also associate six-man football with scores that read more like basketball, but Lifegate has kept its opponents in the neighborhood of 14 points per game this season.  That’s dominant defense in 11-man football, and it’s almost unheard of at the six-man level.  It’s as big a reason that the Falcons are legit state championship contenders as anything they do on offense.  The same guys – Akin and Tate – lead the way, and Tyler Swisher and Kolton Coffman have really emerged on that side of the ball as well. 

Run the ball, play defense, advance. 

After downing Lubbock-Christ the King and Wichita Falls-Notre Dame in the first two rounds of the playoffs, Lifegate earns a rematch with the team that eliminated them in 2009 – Brenham Christian Academy – in Leander this Saturday at 2 p.m.  We’ll have the broadcast on 1580-AM, KWED, and online at www.seguintoday.com, with pre-game coverage at 1:30.


Monday morning football findings

September 13, 2010

Now that the high school football teams in our coverage area have played three games, it’s time to reflect on a few trends we’ve seen developing in the early season.  Not that three games is a huge sample size, but it’s big enough to notice a thing or two.  I’m also sneaking in a thought on the NFL while I’m here. 

***Seguin’s defense has struggled mightily against the pass, but will that really be a big concern in district play?  And I mean they’ve struggled.  The Matadors allowed 323 passing yards , 5 passing touchdowns, and a 65% completion rate to Bastrop QB Josiah Monroe in a 51-21 loss two weeks ago.  This past Friday in Seguin’s home opener, East Central quarterback Eddie Lopez completed a staggering 88% of his passes (23-26) for 322 yards and six touchdowns. 

Those numbers are alarming, and there’s no doubt the coaches and players are doing everything they can to get it fixed, but here’s the thing:  Nobody in District 25-5A (other than Seguin) relies on the passing game to move the football.  In the day and age of the spread offense, Seguin’s district is chock full of teams that play old-school, smashmouth, run it, run it, and run it again football.  Seguin’s Brig Gerlich leads 25-5A quarterbacks with 700 passing yards through three games.  That’s more than DOUBLE the second highest total – 339 by Judson’s Tristan Hernandez.  In fact, after Seguin (236.0) and Judson (121.3), no other team in 25-5A is averaging so much as 100 passing yards per game.

What these other guys CAN do is RUN, RUN, RUN the football.  No need to jog your memory on the talents of Mr. Malcom Brown at Steele.  Aw, let’s do it anyway…He’s rushed for 725 yards and seven touchdowns in three games, and averaged 10.2 yards per carry in doing so.  District playoff favorites Steele, Wagner, Judson, and New Braunfels are all averaging over 200 rushing yards per game, and all have two-pronged attacks in their backfields to be weary of.  Brown counts as two guys for Steele.  Wagner’s Jacquoi Beauregard and Branton Houston both average over 6.5 yards per carry.  Judson’s Quaylon Jones and Kevin Clack are both in the neighborhood of seven yards per tote.  New Braunfels tailback Kevin Monreal has logged an impressive 9.4 average per carry, and QB Micaja Poole is a bigger threat with his feet than with his arm. 

Long story short:  Stopping the RUN will be priority ONE for Seguin’s defense when district play starts.  I could be wrong here, but I’m guessing we won’t see teams attempt to throw it around the yard the way Bastrop and East Central have the past few weeks.  It just isn’t their style. 

***Please remember that when I point out statistical trends as above, it’s NEVER a criticism of  players or coaches.  It’s simply an observation and interpretation of numerical facts that have resulted from happenings on the football field. 

Matador fans have to show some patience this season.  Seguin is a brand new program under Wayne Walker and his staff of assistants who are also new to the school district.  They’re still learning what the players can do, and the players are still adapting to a brand new system, terminology, and coaching style.  This is true all the way down to the junior high level.  I can tell you this through three games – though the result of the play isn’t always pretty, the effort and the hustle is there from these guys on every snap.  That’s a pretty good foundation to build upon.

***For the second straight season, a converted defensive back might be Seguin’s most effective running-back.   It was true a year ago when Ronnie “Bubba” Lawson, an All-District safety, moved to offense and carried the ball out of the “Wild-Mat” formation, and it might be the case again this year with safety Mason Schmidt.  After playing exclusively on defense the first two games, Schmidt started at tailback for Seguin against East Central Friday night and rushed for 85 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries.  He hits the hole hard, he has an explosive burst, and he finishes runs strong, especially for a kid who’s all of 5’8″ and 160 lbs.  Schmidt’s an exciting player to watch in all three phases of the game, and it will bode well for the Mats if he can continue to endure the heavy workload.

***Congrats to Marion for making a mark in the win column Friday, routing S.A.-Cole 55-13 on homecoming night at Veterans Stadium.  The Bulldogs finally got a rhythm going offensively, with Doug Giles gashing the Cougars’ defense on the ground for 170 yards and 5 touchdowns, and QB Sean Hesler spreading the ball around to multiple receivers in passing for 192 yards and a score.  C.J. Bouthot tacked on a defensive score, returning a recovered fumble into the end zone, for good measure.  Positive sign for the Bulldogs, and something good to build on.

***Just another coldly efficient performance by Navarro – The Panthers rack up 212 rushing yards and hold San Antonio-Antonian to 159 total yards in a 28-14 road win on Friday.  Through three games, Navarro has controlled the line of scrimmage like they expect to, but the ability to spread the field and show diversity on offense is definitely there with QB John Bormann and his cast of receivers.  It’s an added dimension that they shouldn’t have to show a lot of on film in non-district play, but will pay big dividends when the 26-3A schedule rolls around.  And in the playoffs.  Yep…I’m picking Navarro to make the Class-3A post-season.  I think it’s a two-horse race for the 26-3A title, between the Panthers and a really, really, really good Wimberley team.

***Well, maybe we learned that TAPPS is more competitive than T-Cal in the 6-man football world…As evidenced by TAPPS D-II’s  Lifegate running roughshod over T-Cal power Bastrop-Tribe 68-19 Saturday evening in Seguin.  The Matt Akin-Tyler Swisher-Caleb Tate show continues, and I expect you’ll be able to catch screenings of it deep into the month of November this fall. 

***Okay – couple of NFL thoughts: The Cowboys no longer employ the services of Flozell Adams, the most penalized player in the NFL over the past five seasons.  The Cowboys now employ Alex Barron, the second most penalized player in the NFL over the past five seasons.  Hey…can’t say they’re not trying to improve!  Barron killed ’em with his play at right tackle in the loss to the Redskins Sunday night.  Killed ’em.  Not just with his holding penalty that negated the potential game-winning touchdown on the final play, but with his repeated blown assignments and unsound play the entire evening.  Is there a less skilled player in professional sports drawing a paycheck right now?  Can’t be.  Why is Dallas a magnet for morons of Barron’s magnitude?  Why did Jerry & co. think Barron would play any better, based on his yellow laundry stained past?

Also…Barron’s incompetence notwithstanding, if Tashard Choice had actual brain matter between his ears rather than air and cobwebs on the final play of the first half, the Cowboys would be flying back to Dallas with a hard-fought, defensively dominated divison road win.  Bad choice, Tashard.  Pun intended.

Let the broadcasts begin!

August 23, 2010

This week marks the beginning of another high school football season, and a busy broadcasting season for us at KWED. Because the schedules permit, we have the rare privelege of being able to carry 14 regular season football games on the air over the next 11 weeks. That list includes all 10 Seguin games, and two apiece for Navarro and Marion. We’re always able to get the Panthers or Bulldogs on the air during Seguin’s bye-week, and that’s the case again this year when we carry Marion’s game against Goldthwaite in Fredericksburg during on Oct.1. In addition, Seguin plays three Thursday night games this season (this week vs. Uvalde at the Alamodome, Sept.2 @ Bastrop, and Oct. 7 @ Steele), so our broadcast schedule includes either Navarro or Marion on the Friday nights that follow (Navarro vs. Luling this week, Marion @ Karnes City on Sept.3, and Navarro @ Canyon Lake on Oct.8).

The Navarro & Marion games we’ll have on should make for some interesting matchups. The Panthers open their season this Friday against a Luling team that went through an emotional roller-coaster a year ago and put forth an inspired effort down the stretch after head coach Robert Dean passed away in early October. Navarro’s Oct. 8 game @ Canyon Lake figures to be a great test for the Panthers against an up-and-coming program in the newly aligned District 26-3A. The UIL’s redistricting sent Marion down to Class-2A, and the Bulldogs face a tough early non-district game against at 2A opponent when they visit Karnes City – a place that’s never easy for the visiting team to win – on Sept. 3. The Oct. 1 nuetral-site game against Goldthwaite in Fredericksburg pits Marion against Class-1A’s pre-season #1 team in the state, according to Texas Football Magazine.

Of course, it all starts with the first of what appears to be a challenging non-district slate for Seguin when the Matadors face Uvalde – a Class-4A playoff team from a year ago – in the Alamodome this Thursday. Seguin makes its first appearance in San Antonio’s largest football venue since 2006, when the Matadors bracketed a nine-game winning streak in outdoor stadiums with two losses in the dome – to San Antonio-Madison in the season opener and to San Antonio-Reagan in the bi-district playoffs. The game will also usher in the Wayne Walker era in Seguin, as the Mats’ new head coach looks to start his innaugural season here with a mark in the “W” column. Road games at defending District 25-5A (before realignment) champion Bastrop and former 27-4A opponent New Braunfels-Canyon will be tough tests, while home games against San Antonio-East Central (the last team Seguin defeated before dropping seven straight a year ago) and Austin-Anderson appear less daunting.

The broadcast crew remains intact for the 2010 season – yours truly handling play-by-play, and Mike Andrews providing color commentary. KWED Sports Director Sennett Rockers will fill in for Mr. Andrews to do color on a couple of broadcasts: The Marion – Goldthwaite game on Oct. 1, and the Navarro – Canyon Lake contest on Oct. 8.

As always, we encourage you to attend the games and support the area teams if at all possible, take your headset radio or internet-capable cell phone with you, and tune into the broadcasts. All broadcasts are streamed online at http://www.seguintoday.com, and the radiolicious ap allows you to listen on your iPhone. As usual, pre-game coverage on game night starts at 6 p.m., and on normal game nights (Seguin playing on Friday), we’ll have weekly coaches shows and preview segments for Navarro, Marion, and Lifegate in the first hour before we go live from the stadium at 7:00.

Amazing game, problematic broadcast

May 8, 2010

First of all…I REALLY need to update this space more often.  So, for the two or three of you (probably being optimisitic with those numbers) who still check in on it frequently – thanks for your patience.  Spread the word that it’s been updated.

I had the privelege of broadcasting one of the most exciting and dramatic high-school playoff games in ANY sport I’ve ever witnessed Friday night when Seguin completed its two-game area playoff sweep of Dripping Springs with a 7-6 victory on the Tigers’ home field. 

Unfortunately, smack dab in the middle of the game’s biggest moment, and perhaps the team’s biggest moment of the season, my call got knocked off the air.

I’ll get back to this , but allow me to set the scene first by recapping the game’s events that led to the big moment.

Seguin jumped out to an early 4-0 lead over Dripping Springs with three runs in the first inning, and another in the second.  The Tigers got right back into it in the bottom of the third with a four-run rally that was unfortunately sparked by a Matador error when  McKayla Mayfield and Taylor Woodall ran into each other chasing down a routine fly-ball. 

The Matadors reclaimed the lead at 5-4 in the fourth with help from a Dripping Springs error, and the Tigers knotted it back up at 5-all in the bottom of that inning.  Dripping Springs capitalized on an overthrow to the plate by Seguin centefielder Alex Bothe in the bottom of the sixth to take a 6-5 lead.

Bothe would make ammends for that mistake in a BIG way in the next half inning, and our listeners on KWED wouldn’t get to hear the entire play.

Seguin started the top of the seventh with an infield single.  Two batters later, with one out, Kelly Koenig was hit by a pitch and replaced at first by courtesy runner Emma Martinez.  After Ally Tovar popped up to second, Bothe came to the plate with her team an out away from being forced into a third and deciding game on Saturday.

With a one-ball, two-strike count, Bothe hammered a line drive to the right centerfield wall for a triple, Mayfield sprinted home to tie the game, and Martinez followed to score the go-ahead run.

I went nuts with my call, reacting to a moment that big as I always do and trying to deliver the excitement back to the listeners who couldn’t attend.  As I’m settling down and preparing to talk about the next batter, Megan Reiley, I hear a commercial playing in my headset?  What?  Why would we go to a commercial in the middle of an inning?  I tell our producer, “Fade this down and bring me back on!”  I finish out the inning  and the game not knowing that Seguin’s biggest play of the season wasn’t heard on the air.

After the game, Seguin Sports Booster Club president Cathy Beicker tells me that she received a call from somebody indicating that the game had gone off the air during Bothe’s hit in the top of the seventh.  So I call our producer back in the studio, and sure enough, it had – he said my feed to the station went instantly silent, and that’s why he played the commercial. 

I listened to the digitial recording of the broadcast back at the station, and sure enough, all you hear is “swing and a line drive to right field, this could be trouble, AND IT DROPS……….(dead air).”  And dead air for about 30 more seconds, then the commercial starts playing, then you hear me, on the air, telling our producer to fade the commercial and come back to me.

What the……???

The only plausible explanation I can think of is that I briefly lost power to my remote mixer without knowing it.  I never lost the cell-phone connection that was feeding the mix back to the station, because I didn’t have to redial to get back on.  I can tell you that I did the broadcast from a platform outside the press-box, and that the mixer was plugged into a power strip whose extension cord was plugged into an outlet inside the building.  Maybe in all the excitement (slamming their fists on the table, stomping on the ground because their season was about to end) somebody in the press-box knocked or kicked my connection loose for a moment, then plugged it back in.  I can’t fathom any other way we’d have gone silent in that manner.

What a complete, thorough, and absolute bummer that one of the most exciting plays I’ve witnessed and had the good fortune of calling in five years of broadcasting Seguin High School athletics was cut off by the sound of dead air in the middle of the play.  And what anquish for fans sitting on the edge of their seats waiting to hear whether Bothe’s hit produced the tying and go-ahead runs!  For the anguish, I apologize.  Sometimes, even if very rarely, things happen in the crazy business of broadcasting that are beyond the broadcaster’s control. 

Now…a few noteable talking points from Seguin’s sweep of Dripping Springs: 

  • It’s good to see Bothe swinging the bat well again.  After hitting over .300, leading the team in home runs and RBIs, and earning a first-team All-District selection as a junior in 2009, Bothe spent much of her senior season mired in a hitting slump.  Her averged hovered around the .170 mark most of the regular season, and nobody could figure out why.  As it turns out, she discovered she needed to wear glasses or contacts to see the ball well, so she began wearing glasses when she came to bat a few weeks ago, and PRESTO….the hard-hitting Alex Bothe of old is back.  She called them her “magic glasses” in my post-game interview with her Friday night, and after that triple in the seventh inning, I can’t think of a better word for them.  Bothe has been a solid performer and a fierce competitor at the varsity level for four years, and it’s a boost to the team for her to be finishing her senior year this strong.
  • Ciara Luna is a freshman who just grew up in a hurry in the span of seven days.  Being asked to protect a one-run lead in the seventh inning of a playoff game THREE TIMES in one week will do that for you.  On Friday, April 30, Luna took a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the seventh against Burbank, allowed a leadoff double to Stephanie Contreras, regained her composure, and retired three straight to preserve the Matadors’ playoff-opening victory.  This past Thursday in Game One against Dripping Springs?  Deja vu.  1-0 lead in the bottom of the seventh, the first TWO Tiger batters reach base, and Luna buckles down to retire three straight.  Friday, Luna came on in relief of starter Kate Bateman in the fourth with the game tied at 5-5, and she found herself with a 7-6 lead after Bothe’s heroics in the bottom of the seventh.  After two straight outs, a Seguin error allowed Dripping Springs’ Jill Keeper to reach base, but Luna induced a pop-up that she fielded herself from Tina Cisneros.  Ballgame and series.  That’s three playoff games in seven days that a FRESHMAN protected a one-run lead in the seventh inning with the potential tying or go-ahead run on base.  Clutch, clutch, clutch.
  • Other offensive standouts in the series against Dripping Springs:  Taylor Woodall was a combined 4-8 (and came into the series batting .445 – first-team All-District lock, I think) with two runs scored in two games – now that’s a leadoff hitter, people.  Brooke Abrameit was 2-6 with an RBI-double, a run scored, and a successful sacrifice.  McKayla Mayfield went 3-7 with two runs scored and one RBI.  Kelly Koenig was big in Game Two, with an RBI-single and a successful sacrifice, as well as drawing the hit-by-pitch that turned into the go-ahead run.  Inserted into the nine-hole of the lineup after not batting at all in the bi-district round against Burbank, Taylor Roberson went 2-5 with a double and a walk agains the Tigers.
  • In the regional quarterfinals, Seguin will be in the same position Dripping Springs was just in:  The Matadors will be facing a team they eliminated in the 2009 playoffs – San Antonio-Edison.  The Bears will be a tough out.  The perception that District 28-4A is a pushover district is exactly that – a perception, and not a reality.  Burbank was tough and scrappy in two bi-district losses to Seguin.  Edison made easy work of Kerrville-Tivy in the first round, and Brackenridge gave Alamo Heights all they could handle in a 4-2 loss.  Remember…Seguin had to come from behind to complete its sweep of Edison in last year’s bi-district round, and there’s no doubt that loss has been a motivating force in the Bears’ 2010 season.  So the Mats have to be focused to advance through the regional quarterfinals, and I’m sure they will be.  Too much upperclassman leadership and talent up and down the roster to slip up at this point. 

Let’s just hope the most exciting moment from the Seguin – Edison series, whatever it may end up being, is actually HEARD by our listeners on KWED.

I agree with Carson on realignment: “It is what it is”

February 2, 2010

Everybody in our coverage area with any interest in Seguin, Navarro, or Marion athletics loves to talk about UIL district realignment and reclassification when it happens every two years.  Each community spends the weeks leading up to it buzzing about the possibilities, and the weeks after either lamenting or applauding the outcome.   Everybody who speculated that Seguin would move back up to 5A, Navarro would finally jump to 3A, and Marion would drop to 2A gets to say “I told you so”, as if making an accurate prediction based on enrolment numbers is a sign of one’s “expertise.”   

I guess I should have a more enthusiastic attitude about the topic as a journalist, since it is such a newsworthy event in our area, but at the end of the day, I share the sentiment so efficiently expressed by Seguin head football coach and athletic director Jim Carson when asked for his reaction on our KWED interview Monday morning: 

“It is what it is.”

Oh, there are some in my line of work who spend every waking hour coming up with blueprints and elaborate plans to “save the UIL from itself” and eternally “solve” the dilemma of how to place schools in the most equitable competitive settings.  One of them worked for that other media outlet in Seguin and devoted a longwinded…err….thoroughly detailed (trying to be nice) column to it a couple of years ago. 

I didn’t get into this business to be a lobbyist or a political activist.  I got into it to cover and broadcast games, and to communicate the action, drama, competitive ebbs and flows, and ultimate results of those games to fans who care about them.  Be it through live play-by-play, five-minute sportscasts, one-minute audio wraps, interviews with coaches and players, or printed stories – that’s why I’m here, and that’s it.

So my attitude toward realignment has, and always will be:  Put them in the classificiation their enrolment says they belong in, put them in whatever district you put them in, give me the schedule, and I’ll go cover or broadcast the games.  I honestly have no emotion about it beyond that. 

Sure, you’d like to see the result come out with some equity in terms of travel (Seguin made out REALLY well in that regard this time…Marion and Navarro will have a few late Tuesday night trips in non-football sports ), and you’d like to see your favorite team avoid that “gauntlet” district in which every team is a powerhouse (That doesn’t change for Seguin…27-4A was a buzz-saw, so is the new 25-5A they’re entering), but it just isn’t possible to make things that equitable for every school in the state. 

As much as some like to bash the UIL – I know I’ve done it a time or two – their alignment and classification system will always be the product of HUMAN thought, which means it will always be flawed to some degree.  Perfection simply isn’t attainable in an endeavor like this, and the UIL faces a greater challenge than any other similar governing body in any other state.  Texas is so geographically vast and has so many schools of varying sizes spread throughout its expanse that it would be impossible to create equitable travel and competition scenarios for all of its members from 1A to 5A.  Impossible. 

So to me, the healthiest attitude on realignment is Coach Carson’s: “It is what it is.” He also added that “our foes are powerful, so that gives us an opportunity to do some great things.”  In a new District 25-5A that includes the Matadors, New Braunfels, San Antonio-Wagner, Cibolo-Steele, Converse-Judson, and San Marcos, that’s an accurate assessment.

One final thought:  I, for one, love the fact that Seguin’s oldest historic rival, New Braunfels, will be a district opponent in all sports for the next two years.  The thought of possibly broadcasting some late-season “Matadors vs. Unicorns” games with playoff implications in basketball, baseball, softball, or volleyball is pretty exciting.  The rivalry between the schools seems to be understated in sports other than football, and that won’t be the case during the ’10-’11 and ’11-’12 seasons.

Ready to broadcast some volleyball

November 16, 2009

With Seguin advacing to the 4A state volleyball tournament in San Marcos this week, I will be doing volleyball play-by-play on the radio for the first time in my eight-year broadcasting career. 

The football, basketball, baseball, and softball games I’ve called over the course of eight years and four markets (Denton, TX…Durant, Oklahoma…New Orleans…Seguin) number somewhere in the hundreds – in each sport. 

But in this part of the country, volleyball on the radio just isn’t that commonplace.  It’s so rare that it wasn’t even taught to me by my mentor, Texas Radio Hall of Famer Bill Mercer, in broadcasting school at North Texas.  My KWED sports compadre Sennett Rockers never learned it in broadcasting school at KU either.  

It is more commonplace to find volleyball on the radio further north, in the Midwest, but in most markets, the time commitment to broadcasting football (any station’s biggest sports money-maker in terms of advertising revenue) is so intense that volleyball often gets lost in the shuffle.  I’m not saying that’s right or fair – that’s just the economics of it.

In retrospect, I wish we could have found a way to broadast Seguin’s regional tournament matches, and it’s certainly something we’ll try to be more prepared to do in future seasons.  But we had already committed to do three football games (and received commitments from advertisers)  that were scheduled for that weekend far before Seguin’s volleyball playoff run, and had no choice but to honor those commitments. 

Anyway…broadcasting state tournament volleyball this week is something I’m really excited about.  It will be a challenge, but hopefully the basic play-by-play fundamentals of describing the action and keeping the score updated will take over and result in a quality broadcast. 

Tune into 1580-AM, or www.seguintoday.com at 4:50 Thursday afternoon for pre-match coverage of Seguin vs. Canyon-Randall in the 4A state semifinals from San Marcos.  The opening serve is at 5 p.m.

Regional volleyball champs highlight wild weekend

November 16, 2009

First up…congratulations to the Seguin High School volleyball team for earning the first UIL state tournament berth in school history with a four-game 4A Region 4 championship victory over Austin Lake Travis in San Antonio on Saturday.  And congrats to Seguin head coach Robin Gerlich for notching her 500th and 501st career victories in the two regional tournament wins.

I’ve been watching the core group of seniors on this team play for three years – some of them for four – and seeing them grow into state championship contenders has been pretty remarkable.  Kelly Koenig and Megan Roy were varsity starters as freshmen on the ’06 Seguin team that finished near the bottom of the old District 25-5A, so it’s been a long journey for those two. 

Now Koenig, Roy, and fellow seniors Alex Bothe, Brooke Abrameit, Marquisha Matthews, and Danika Cerna see the countless hours of hard work pay off with a shot at competing for a state title.  The same is true for Lauren Meunchow, Megan Reiley, and the other non-seniors on this team who will be back to lead the Matadors in 2010. 

To think….11 days ago Dripping Springs had the Matadors at match point (leading 24-23 in game four with a two-games-to-one lead) with Seguin’s season hanging in the balance in the area round of the playoffs.  The Mats showed their resolve, found a way to survive that game 26-24, went on to beat the Tigers 15-8 in game five, and they’ve rolled through the opposition since then. 

Championship runs often have that one defining moment during post-season play – that one moment where a team turns the corner and never looks back.  If Seguin goes on to capture a state title in San Marcos this week, fighting off that match-point deficit in game four against Dripping Springs will go down as that moment. 

Now…on to football.  Absolute shocker at Boerne-ISD Stadium Friday night.  In the bi-district round of the 2A playoffs, Navarro faced a Comfort team it had beaten 35-6 two months earlier, and most fans figured the Bobcats would be no more than an early bump in the road on a long Panther playoff run.  Final score? Comfort 52, Navarro 21. 

Comfort absolutely shocked the Panthers (and Navarro fans…and me…and my broadcast partner, Mike Andrews).  Navarro coach Les Goad alluded to the fact in our pre-game interview that in the first meeting, the Bobcats were still playing tentatively and mechanically in trying to learn first-year head coach Chip Mayfield’s new system.  He also acknowledged that Comfort would be much improved in the rematch, as evidenced by a four-game win streak to end district play in which Comfort averaged close to 60 points per game. 

But this much improved?  Comfort’s team speed was alarming.  Proof that there’s a difference between BEING fast and PLAYING fast.  You can be fast, but if you’re not comfortable and confident in the system you’re playing in, and you play tentatively, that speed won’t show itself on game night. 

No such problem for Comfort on Friday…the Bobcats PLAYED fast…played aggressively and instinctively.  They kept Navarro guessing on both sides of the ball all night.  Strong enough up the middle defensively to take away the Panthers’ power running game between the tackles, and fast enough sideline to sideline to negate Navarro’s speed on the edge.  The Comfort offense mixed its play-calling and formations masterfully, and looked like a well-oiled machine in racking up big chunks of yards.

It was 31-0 at halftime, and it was 45-0 before Navarro finally scored late in the third quarter.  Nobody in the stadium (except for Comfort’s coaches and players) saw it coming.  Comfort is going to be a nightmare matchup for anybody it faces moving forward in the 2A playoffs.

Still have to tip your caps to Navarro for a fine season.  Two straight unbeaten runs through District 28-2A to outright district championships, and a combined record over the past two years  of 19-4 is nothing to scoff at.  This program will be a force to be reckoned with in the region for years to come.

Enjoyed a beautiful Saturday afternoon watching Lifegate play “fast break football” on Saturday…The Falcons executed to precision on offense and returned two interceptions for touchdowns on defense in dispatching of Brownwood-Victory Life 53-8 in the opening round of the TAPPS 6-Man Division II playoffs. 

The headliners much of this season have been Matt Akin and Austin Swick, and both played brilliantly on Saturday.  But this team is well stocked with other playmakers when you throw in names like Caleb Tate and Tyler Swisher, and they seem versatile enough and well rounded enough in what they can do on both sides of the ball to put together a run to the state champioship game. 

This weekend will tell a lot, when the Falcons host Brenham Christian Academy in a matchup of 11-0 teams in the second round of the playoffs.  Win that one, and it could be smooth sailing for the Falcons into that state title game.

Head scratcher for Spurs

October 30, 2009

There’s never any shame in losing the second game of back-to-backs in the NBA, especially when you’re on the road and your opponent is rested.  And there’s certainly little, if any point in getting too analytical over the second game of an 82-game regular season schedule.

But the Spurs’ loss in Chicago Thursday night is a bit of a head scratcher.  Follow me on this.  The most “aging” of the “aging veterans” on this team, Tim Duncan, played 34 minutes last night, shot 13-19, put up 28 points and hauled in 16 rebounds.

Fast forward the calendar to April, look back on the complete regular season, and pull all the box scores from the second night of back-to-backs.  How many of those do you think will show Duncan posting a 28-16 in 34 minutes?  The answer is “not many.”  Heck, the answer might be “one…on the second night of the season in Chicago.”

My point is that when Timmy is feeling that sprightly on the second night of back-to-backs and delivers a performance like that, the younger guys on the team have to hop on for the ride and find a way to squeeze out a win.  Didn’t happen Thursday, as Tony Parker, Richard Jefferson, and Roger Mason gave San Antonio virtually nothing in support of the team’s aging anchor in the middle.

Again…not much point in picking apart Game #2 on an 82-game schedule, especially when there are new faces on this team still learning how to play together.  But for Duncan to dominate and the Spurs to lose in that scenario is a bit of a head scratcher.

Panthers correctly play the odds, go for two

October 20, 2009

Navarro survived a hairy District 28-2A contest Friday with a 29-28 road victory over Poth, and the Panthers eked out that final one point margin with a touchdown and two-point conversion (both by Jacob Garcia) with just 25 seconds remaining in the game.

I’m excited to talk to Coach Les Goad in this week’s Panther Report about his decision to go for two rather than kick a tying extra point after Garcia’s touchdown.  Be sure to tune in to 1580-AM, KWED, or listen online at www.seguintoday.com for Coach Goad’s thoughts on the game – the interview will air during the 6 p.m. hour Friday leading up to our broadcast of the Seguin – Boerne-Champion game.

I’m going to go ahead and hazard a guess as to what Coach Goad was thinking, and tell you that I love the decision he made.  Keep in mind that Navarro kicker Tim Gill is a perfect 35-35 on PAT kicks this season.

Basically, Navarro had two choices in that scenario: 1) Hand the football of to All-State running-back Jacob Garcia one more time and ask him to make two yards, to win or lose the football game.  2) Play an alternate-possession overtime in which you have to start at the 25-yard line, find a way to score, and then stop a Poth team that’s given you fits all night from scoring when they get their turn on offense.

So the question, I’m guessing, that went through Coach Goad’s head was “Will an alternate possession overtime give us a better opportunity to win the football game than one handoff to an All-State running-back from the two-yard line?”  The answer is a resounding “no.”  And that’s why I love Coach Goad’s decision.  The Panther offensive line already had the Poth defense on its heels, and Garcia had already found the end zone four times in the game. 

Again…I’m purely speculating about Coach Goad’s thought process, but I plan to ask him about it during this week’s Panther Report.  I’m anxious to hear what he has to say.

As I see it, the decision was no gamble, but rather the polar opposite.  Given Navarro’s personnel in the backfield and on the offensive line, there’s no way on earth an alternating-possession overtime presents a better opportunity to win a football game than one handoff to Jacob Garcia at the two-yard line.  Coach Goad did play the percentages.  Going to overtime would have been a far greater gamble.

Mats appear eliminated in 27-4A playoff race

October 19, 2009

Upon further examination of the District 27-4A football standings and remaining schedule, it appears that Seguin may have already been eliminated from playoff contention.  Unless there’s some quirky tie-break scenario that I’m not aware of, I don’t see how they get in.

At 0-4 in district play, The Matadors’ best possible 27-4A record is 3-4 if they win out. 

Here’s how it works out in terms of trying to catch the top five teams in the current standings:

* Seguin has no way of catching Steele or Alamo Heights.  Both squads are 4-0 in district and can finish no worse than 4-3.

*Seguin CAN catch Kerrville-Tivy, which currently has a 3-1 district record.  The problem is that Tivy owns the head-to-head tiebreaker between the teams after defeating the Matadors 31-14 earlier this season.

*The two teams tied for fourth with 2-2 district marks are Clemens and New Braunfels-Canyon.  Seguin could still actually SURPASS one of those teams, but only one.  Clemens and Canyon haven’t played each other yet, so the winner of their matchup is guaranteed a district record of now worse than 3-4 (again…that’s Seguin’s best potential finish now).  And both of those teams own the head-to-head tie-break over Seguin because they’ve both beaten the Matadors this season.

*So what it all boils down to is that when the dust clears at the end of the District 27-4A regular season, there will unavoidably be four teams with either better records than Seguin or equal records and the head-to-head tie-break. 

Unless, again, there’s a scenario and tie-break that I haven’t thought of, this all means that Seguin will miss the state football playoffs for the third consecutive season.