Budding Secondary Has to be Difference Maker Against Pebble Hills
SAN ANGELO, TX — Pebble Hills will be more than a long drive across the desert for Central. The Spartans are 2-1 and eager to tear apart a Bobcat secondary that is still figuring things out. Coach Davis and his team have tried moving players around and trusting new faces, but a long-term solution has not been found.
In the season opener, Shoemaker was able to run right through them. The Grey Wolves’ play calling was nothing fancy, but it worked. They had better athletes outside and a quarterback that could give them the ball. Against Del Rio, the defense faced considerably worse competition but rebounded and locked them down, nonetheless.
In last week’s contest with Cedar Park, the talent level was raised closer to where Shoemaker was. The result? Quarterback Ryder Hernandez threw for 341 yards and 3 touchdowns. Unfortunately for the Bobcats, Pebble Hills more closely resembles Shoemaker and Cedar Park than they do Del Rio.
This game will not follow the up and down week to week trend established early this season. Davis already compared Pebble Hills’ Ochoa to Hernandez in his Monday press conference, saying they have similar arm talent and can tuck the ball and run when needed. He might have sold Ochoa’s athleticism short, however. If not for one yard against El Dorado, the signal caller would have been the Spartan’s leading rusher in every game.
Ochoa has plenty of weapons at his disposal as well, primarily 6’3 wide receiver Isaiah Davis. Against El Dorado, Davis racked up 126 yards and four touchdowns on only six receptions. He is big, fast, and can out-jump defenders.
In last week’s game, Coach Davis rotated a group of skill players to slow Cedar Park down. One player they have had to rely on in particular is three year starter Malik Finley. At the beginning of the season, defensive coordinator Josh Willis pointed to him as a much needed leader. He is one of five team captains (DE Xy’Kerion Paulk is the only other defensive player).
Finley has the experience that a majority of the defense needs. Sophomore Ty Casey made the switch from wide receiver in order to add depth and has seen considerable action this fall. But, like all underclassmen making a position change, he is still learning. Senior Zack Smith is another receiver that has seen most of his action on defense.
Kyson Snelson and Tristan Lopez will handle the difficult task of covering Isaiah Davis, but Willis will likely keep more than two eyes on him every play.
When asked to describe Pebble Hills, Midland coach Tim Anuszkiewicz told MRT, “I would kind of characterize them as a finesse team. They like to spread it out. They have good athletes in critical spots on the outside.” Sounds a lot like Shoemaker.
The good news for Central is that this is week four, not a “preseason” game as some called the opener. Three weeks of experience is crucial for a young football team. Friday, we will see how much it has helped.
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