After a tough three-game stretch to start the season saw Guyer face quality Class 5A opponents, the Wildcats haven’t hit any tough sledding in their past two games following a two-year hiatus from Class 4A football.
Since starting the season 1-2, the Wildcats (3-2, 2-0 District 5-4A) have outscored their district opponents 117-14, leaving Guyer craving some competition after its starters have essentially played one full game over the past two weeks.
“Playing against Azle and Denton [to open district play] was fun,” Guyer center Zach Colpean said. “But it’s a little more fun to go out there and hit somebody that you know is going to hit you back.”
The Wildcats fully expect that team to show up tonight when they face Trophy Club Byron Nelson (4-1, 1-1) at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex.
The Bobcats have more weapons and are bigger, stronger and more physical than either team Guyer has seen in district play. The Wildcats now start a stretch that will see them play three straight games against the teams many figured would make the playoffs along with Guyer out of District 5-4A — Byron Nelson, Lake Dallas and Wichita Falls Rider.
“I sort of do miss playing against teams [in Class 5A] that could always potentially be great,” senior middle linebacker Terence Belton said. “You played games for four quarters; I do miss that. But the way things are going now, I’d sort of like to have that back.”
If his head coach’s suspicions are correct, Belton will get his wish tonight at 7.
“You can tell on film they’re a lot more physical team than the ones we’ve played the last couple of weeks,” Guyer head coach John Walsh said. “They have a winning edge. They plan on being in the playoffs and they play like it. It’s going to be good for us. You want some games like the ones we’ve had the last two weeks, but you can only have so many to get you ready for the playoffs.”
The Bobcats’ identity has been that of a running team with a big offensive line and an effective running back in Tylor Blake, as well as a strong defensive front led by nose tackle Nigel Spencer and inside linebackers Cliff Campbell and Andrew Dotson.
The Wildcats will get back the services of some of their big guys up front this week as offensive linemen Hunter Krastin (concussion) and Patrick Morris (team-imposed suspension) return after missing two games.
For the past two weeks, Ryan Starr and Wade Austin have filled in admirably for Morris, at left tackle, and Krastin, a left guard. But Walsh said it will be good to get his two starters back.
“The two guys that filled in have done a great job, but Patrick and Hunter were starting for a reason,” Walsh said. “It’s not just the physicality and athleticism they bring but the experience they bring. They’re our leaders up front.”
That could mean even better things for the Wildcats’ running game, which has flourished over the past three games. Against Flower Mound Marcus, in Guyer’s first win of the season, the Wildcats had two 100-yard rushers and saw quarterback Jerrod Heard rush for 98 yards.
Over the past two weeks, Guyer has averaged 304 yards on the ground in blowout victories.
“It doesn’t change if they’re not here,” junior running back D.J. Breedlove said of Morris and Krastin. “The running backs are still going to do our thing out there, but I’m glad they’re back now and we can just get fully into the run game.”
Those numbers could be a bit harder to come by against a team like Nelson and players like Spencer, Campbell and Dotson.
That’s why Walsh made it a priority in last week’s win over Denton to get his receivers more involved than they had been in recent weeks, as Arizona State pledge Ellis Jefferson caught two touchdown passes and Josh Harris had one.
“We feel like we can line up and say we’re going to run for 300 and win this thing, but I’m not naive enough to think we won’t find someone in the playoffs that can play with us up front,” Walsh said. “So we have to keep [Jefferson] and Josh in tune on the outside. When you’re good at running the ball, you sometimes don’t work those outside guys enough and then they’re out of sync late in the season when you need them.”
Colpean said he prefers the old-fashioned way of winning games, like any good, physical offensive lineman would.
“We love the running game,” he said. “Passing is all right, but if we can run the ball that’s what we prefer to do. Those guys behind us [Breedlove and running back Richard Whitaker] are probably the best two we’ve ever had. We have a power back and then we have a skillful guy. Both of them together is really nice.”
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .