Last week’s scoreless first quarter that saw Guyer fall behind Wichita Falls Rider by 10 points was a bit of a wake-up call for the Wildcats.
It was the fourth time this season Guyer did not score on its first possession of a game and was magnified by the fact that it took the Wildcats more than a quarter to get on the scoreboard in a game they eventually won 56-30.
“We don’t start fast,” Guyer coach John Walsh said. “Maybe I’m too stupid to just now figure this out. I think we’ve been unmotivated in games and I’ve given them a pass. We should’ve been motivated against Rider. I just think we’re a slow-starting team, and that’ll bite us in the rear end if I don’t figure out why we’re starting so slow.”
Guyer (6-2, 5-0 District 5-4A) will have a chance to get back on track and take an early lead tonight when it heads to Wichita Falls for the second straight week to play the surprisingly playoff-bound Coyotes.
As good as Guyer’s offense has been this season — averaging more than 45 points per game and on the verge of having three 1,000-yard rushers — the Wildcats have had early-game troubles. Against two teams near the bottom of the District 5-4A standings, Denton and Azle, the Wildcats had turnovers on their first drive.
“We want to be the first ones to score,” Guyer senior quarterback Jerrod Heard said. “It really helps. When we do score early, the whole team lights up. We want to do it as fast as possible and keep that emotion going throughout the whole game.”
While Heard said he’d like to see the problem fixed, he added that there was not much nervousness on the sideline against Rider, which is understandable given Guyer’s recent history.
Guyer trailed by 16 points in the third quarter of the 2012 Class 4A Division I state championship game before rallying to win.
“When that happens, you definitely know how to come back,” Heard said. “Our team knows how to win now. You get down, but we just know we can come back.”
Against Wichita Falls (5-3, 4-1), the Wildcats will have to be on their toes offensively.
New Coyotes head coach Danny Russell, who previously was the defensive coordinator at Garland, took his unique brand of defense to Wichita Falls. The Coyotes have allowed just short of 17 points per game this season and use a lot of different looks to try to confuse opponents.
“Guys are lined up different a lot, and normally that’s not good sign for your defense,” Walsh said. “We’ve seen trashy defenses that try to disrupt us [with multiple fronts] because they’re not as good as us, and it doesn’t go well. But this is their system. They have a 3-4, a 4-3 and another front we just call ‘special front.’ I don’t even know what to call it. It’s a different defense. They do it all the time, and they’re doing it well.”
In coverage, Walsh said, the Coyotes typically run a “cover 2” scheme with two safeties 12-15 yards behind the line of scrimmage, but he expects to see something different tonight.
“We haven’t seen that all year long, and I don’t expect to see it,” Walsh said. “But if you play us in a seven-man box, I’d put money on us. I’m expecting to see a little different coverage than what we’ve seen on film.”
The Coyotes will be hard-pressed to not show a different look considering the Wildcats’ effectiveness on the ground. And that could be at a new level tonight, considering Guyer will be playing for the first time all season with its starting offensive line intact.
For the first time this season, the Wildcats will start from left to right: Jerod Fritsch, Hunter Krastin, Jordan Thompson, Bryan Barrett and Kyle Soltero.
The Coyotes’ multiple-front defense can be an issue for offensive linemen and quarterbacks alike, but Heard said he and his teammates are ready for the challenge.
“When they switch [the front] up, I just have to read it and the line has to block the right guy,” Heard said. “We’re studying hard, so when they do switch it up I can make a check and the line knows whom to block. It’ll be a mental game. Our guys are smart, though. I have a lot of confidence in them.”
That will be a key to Guyer’s success tonight, and Heard said he knows Wichita Falls could be dangerous if it is allowed to hang around for too long.
“They’re rolling right now,” Heard said. “They’re 4-1 [in district]. They’re high on confidence. It plays a big part in success. Everyone is shocked about Old High right now and how well they’re doing, and they’re a dangerous team.”
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872 and via Twitter at @aboedeker.