Guyer head coach John Walsh and his defensive coaches could consider themselves fortunate to have never been forced to come up with a scheme to stop Jerrod Heard, the Wildcats’ junior quarterback who is headed to Texas.
But judging by what they’ve seen on film from Aledo quarterback Pate Davis, the senior could be the next best — or worst — thing.
Davis, who has thrown for 1,877 yards, 18 touchdowns and two interceptions, is dangerous enough through the air, but what he’s done on the ground has caught Walsh’s eye, as he’s rushed for 624 yards and eight touchdowns.
“Their quarterback makes everything go,” Walsh said. “He’s a great player. He throws on time and spins the ball nicely, but he’s a strong and fast runner. I remember him being a strong runner in the [preseason] scrimmage, but after watching these game films, he’s fast. He’s a big part of what you have to stop.
“I would imagine it’s real similar to how they have to defend us.”
Turns out, both defenses might have their hands full today when Guyer (9-2) faces Aledo at 2 p.m. in a Class 4A Division I Region I area-round playoff game at Northwest ISD Stadium in Justin.
Davis is the first dual-threat quarterback Guyer has had to prepare for since the season opener, when Cedar Hill’s Damion Hobbs threw for 280 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 123 yards and two scores against a young, inexperienced Guyer defense with nine new starters.
One of the two returning starters from last season, safety John Schilleci, said preparing for Davis has been similar to what he would imagine it would be like to prepare for his teammate.
“With a guy that can just take off if no one’s open, it’s tough,” Schilleci said. “He always has an escape route if things break down. We really have to be good on our keys and just make sure we get the right read every time.”
Heard is the same way, and the junior has more than 2,500 total yards and 29 touchdowns to show for it.
But he possibly has not seen a defense like Aledo’s, which is led by its front seven and has long been known for its overall discipline.
“I watched them during all those title runs, and they don’t look any different on defense,” Walsh said. “They look every bit as strong and they’re still disciplined. They do things right all the time. If you try to do things that go against their reads, they’re probably not good plays. They’re going to be where they’re supposed to be; you just have to block them.”
That discipline could mean fewer opportunities for Heard to capitalize on defensive breakdowns and make the Bearcats (10-1) pay with his feet.
“Against a team like them, you have to know your reads because it [the defense] might not ever break down,” Heard said. “That probably won’t happen much with this team, so you just have to make the right read and get it to the open guy.”
If that is the case, Walsh has confidence in his team’s ability to throw the ball after going through some noticeable lulls in the passing game at times this season, especially early on.
In Guyer’s bi-district playoff win over Saginaw, Heard had his best passing game of the season as he completed 20 of 31 attempts for 246 yards and a touchdown, while also converting several third downs.
“It’s got to be good for his confidence and his wide receivers’ confidence,” Walsh said. “I thought he threw well against [Fort Worth] Brewer [two weeks ago] too, he just didn’t get to throw much. We’ve really had back-to-back games with a high percentage of completions. If his confidence is high, then the Guyer Wildcats are in good shape.”
And when his confidence is high, Walsh said, it makes the entire offensive unit a tough one to contain, even for a disciplined defense.
“When we start to click like that, where we’re passing and running, it just makes us a better team,” Heard said. “It goes all the way around. It makes everyone want to go harder and it even makes the running backs get hungry for the ball and want to do well. It just makes everything click better.”
Walsh knows that trend has to continue against an Aledo defense he compared to his own, a typical Ryan defense or a typical Coppell defense.
“If you just give them one thing, they’re gonna eventually make adjustments and take it away,” Walsh said. “So you’d better be multiple, and we can be like that. If Aledo’s defense is not guessing, they’re going to stop you from going across the goal line. You have to keep them guessing.”
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.