After his team’s loss to the Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals, Miami Heat superstar LeBron James was the butt of many jokes involving his propensity to disappear in the fourth quarter of key games.
Over the past two weeks, the Guyer football team has seen similar second-half deficiencies in starting its season with losses to Cedar Hill and Colleyville Heritage — both close games at halftime that ended up being blowouts.
“We haven’t been showing up,” said senior wide receiver Ellis Jefferson, who has committed to Arizona State. “I don’t know what’s been going on.”
Last week’s game was especially hard to stomach for Guyer (0-2) after it led Heritage 31-21 at halftime before losing 54-38.
“When you score 31 points in the first half, you’d better be able to score at least 21 in the second half,” Guyer head coach John Walsh said. “We’re averaging 26 points in the first half and seven in the second half. That’s not going to cut it. We’ve been harping on the finishing, and we have a big challenge this week.”
The Wildcats were No. 1 in The Associated Press preseason Class 4A poll, dropped to No. 7 after their first loss and are unranked after their loss to Heritage.
To break into the win column for the first time, Guyer will have to deal with yet another Class 5A program, and one that’s in the same boat as it is — still searching for a victory.
Flower Mound Marcus (0-2) will host Guyer at 7:30 tonight.
In the bi-district round of the 2010 Class 5A Division II playoffs, Marcus gave Guyer one of its stiffest tests on its run to the state championship game, as Guyer held on in the final seconds to beat Marcus by a touchdown.
“[Marcus] coach [Bryan] Erwin has some skins on the wall, and you can just tell they do things the right way,” Walsh said. “As far as a rivalry with those guys, I’d love to play them every year just because it’s right there, 10 miles down the road. The more we play the more of a rivalry it’ll be, but I’m sure the coaches on that staff haven’t forgotten that  game because it could’ve gone either way.
“We certainly haven’t forgotten about it.”
And even though there aren’t many players back from that game, Walsh said he fully expects the same type of effort from the Marauders — a stout defense and a power running game designed to control the clock.
“It’s the exact same identity,” Walsh said. “The offensive line looks real similar; the defense looks real similar. They don’t have [former running back] Rufus [Mason] back there, but they have some kids who really run hard.”
The Marauders are led offensively by running back Mark Demery (55 carries, 213 yards, one touchdown) and quarterback Cade Erwin (24-of-134, three TDs).
Cade Erwin, the Marcus coach’s son, was a star receiver for the Marauders last season as a freshman, catching passes from older brother Cole, who is a junior.
That was the plan for this year until Cole Erwin tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee just before the season began, forcing Cade Erwin to step into his brother’s shoes.
“Just like [former Guyer quarterback and Walsh’s son] J.W., he’s grown up around the game and knows everything about it, even if he is young,” Guyer defensive tackle Domenic Pickering said. “It will be a real test for the front seven. We’ll definitely be able to show who we are and what we’re made of. We just want to have a good game to start district right [in two weeks]. We’ve had two games that weren’t very good, but we should be OK now.”
Cade Erwin threw for 207 yards and a score, while rushing for two more touchdowns, in a season-opening loss to Plano West and rushed for just shy of 100 yards and a score in last week’s loss to Arlington.
Walsh is familiar with young Erwins hurting his team, as Cole made his varsity debut against Guyer as a freshman in that playoff game two seasons ago and threw for 98 yards and two touchdowns using Marcus’ deceptive play-action pass game.
“He’s really been remarkable,” Walsh said of Cade Erwin’s play this season. “He put up really good numbers his first game out and executed the offense well. I think Cade will get better as the year goes on, and we’ll probably catch his best game so far this week. Cole’s first game on varsity was against us and he had a pretty special game. I’m expecting Cade to be no different.”
In order to avoid a dreaded 0-3 start, the Wildcats will need to be sure that doesn’t happen.
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .