Jerrod Heard’s performance last week in Guyer’s rout of Trophy Club Byron Nelson was a near-perfect picture of what the dual-threat junior quarterback can do to cause his opponents headaches on a weekly basis.
Heard completed 13 of his 19 pass attempts for 157 yards and two touchdowns in 2 1/2 quarters of action. He also rushed for 173 yards and two scores on 20 carries.
Today he will look to replicate that performance, but he’ll have to do so against one of the best defenses he’s seen this season, and arguably the best defensive line he’s seen all year, as Guyer takes on rival Lake Dallas at Falcon Stadium.
“Their motor is unreal,” Guyer head coach John Walsh said of the Falcons’ three defensive linemen. “Their energy and their effort are good, too. You can tell they’ve done a good job in the weight room because they’re real strong. It’s led by [defensive end Graysen] Schantz, there’s absolutely no doubt. He’s a complete animal.”
And he’s a different animal than anyone Guyer has faced this year on the defensive front. The 6-foot-3, 240-pound senior, who has offers from North Texas and UTEP, has 10 sacks through his team’s six games to go with 16 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
On the other end is Colton Lively, and in the middle of the Falcons’ 3-4 defense is converted tight end Josiah Tauaefa, who is the latest in a trio of brothers to star on the Falcons’ defensive line.
“It’s one of the best lines we’ve seen,” Heard said. “We’re really trying to keep that in mind. We know they’re talented. We have to just utilize our read game and do a lot of stuff with them to keep them off balance.”
While the Wildcats (4-2, 3-0 District 5-4A) are facing arguably the best defense they’ve seen this season, Lake Dallas (3-3, 1-2) hasn’t seen an offense the caliber of Guyer’s.
Guyer is averaging 452 yards per game and 44 points per game (56.7 in district play).
“Obviously, they can score a lot of points,” Lake Dallas head coach Michael Young said. “Their offensive line is really good. They can throw the ball better, probably now, than they did the last time we played them [in 2009], to be honest. When you’re balanced offensively and you have a good offensive line, it’s difficult for teams like us who are still finding our way on offense to try to keep up.”
As powerful as Guyer’s offense has been this year, the Wildcats will be far from full strength tonight.
Running back D.J. Breedlove will miss the game after suffering an ankle injury last week, while right tackle Bryan Barrett will miss the game with pneumonia. Left tackle Patrick Morris, who returned from a two-game suspension last week, is also questionable with a hip flexor injury.
That could put backup offensive linemen Wade Austin and Ryan Starr back in the spotlight after they started two games in the absence of Morris and left guard Hunter Krastin.
“It’s concerning,” Walsh said. “We have a lot of confidence in those guys, but they have not gone against the three guys we’re fixing to play.”
One of Guyer’s offensive strengths — the quarterback read game — could be limited if Lake Dallas has its way. With Breedlove out, Richard Whitaker will be thrust into the starting role, and he has proven to be up to the task by rushing for 441 yards and six touchdowns. Sophomore Anthony Taylor will be called up from the junior varsity to get the secondary carries. That could put more pressure on Heard in the running game after his 20-carry performance last week.
But the Falcons plan on doing everything in their power to keep the ball out of Heard’s hands outside of handing it off or throwing it downfield.
“The defensive ends know we have to squat and squeeze and make sure he [Heard] doesn’t pull it, because that’s when they get several yards,” Schantz said. “We have to make sure he doesn’t pull it and he hands it off and just keep the ball out of his hands as much as possible.”
Walsh, on the other hand, knows Heard has some magic in his back pocket when things break down offensively.
“About 90 percent of the time he executes the play just like it’s called,” Walsh said of his junior quarterback. “Then there’s 10 percent of the time when we just let him dance. Those dances end up usually being first downs or points for us.”
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .