It is no secret that Guyer is proficient at running the football.
The Wildcats have long been one of the area’s top rushing teams — a throwback, in a way, in an era of pass-happy offenses. This season, Guyer (7-2, 6-0 District 5-4A) is averaging just shy of 350 yards per game on the ground while rarely relying on the passing of Texas pledge Jerrod Heard.
Last season, Heard had some of his best passing games in the playoffs as Guyer made a run to the Class 4A Division I state championship. Prior to that playoff run, Guyer wasn’t tested often in district play but used some of its blowouts as opportunities to fine-tune the passing game with the thought its offense would have to be balanced in the postseason.
This season, it has been more of the same for Guyer and Heard, and the Wildcats seem to be back on the same track they followed last season.
“It’s kind of funny how last season has paralleled this season,” Guyer coach John Walsh said. “Offensively, we mixed it up early [last season], then went in a run-only mode and then tried to get some balance late in the year. That’s exactly what we’re doing now.”
For example, take Friday’s 49-3 win over a Wichita Falls team that already had clinched a playoff berth.
Heard had one of his better passing games of the year, throwing for 191 yards and a touchdown with several crisp passes that were right on target. The numbers don’t resemble the astronomical passing numbers some quarterbacks put up these days, but in Guyer’s offense, they are plenty good.
“What I really liked last week was Jerrod’s accuracy, his decision-making and the fact he didn’t force balls,” Walsh said. “He checked down. I think he learned checking down isn’t bad when you’re checking down to [running backs] Anthony [Taylor] and D.J. [Breedlove].”
Heard and his stable of receivers will have one final chance to fine-tune their passing attack at 7 tonight when Guyer hosts Fort Worth Brewer (3-6, 0-6) in a regular-season finale at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex.
The hope for Guyer is that they will hit the postseason next week with the more even run-pass balance that they were able to use last postseason when Heard had several big games through the air — something he hasn’t needed this season.
Last postseason, Heard completed 57 of his 86 pass attempts for 943 yards, eight touchdowns and two interceptions, highlighted by the regional final during which he threw for 172 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Birdville.
Heard hopes last week’s performance against Wichita Falls is a nice starting point for a similar postseason run.
“I knew we had it,” Heard said. “It was just a matter of time before we started connecting. That night was a boost for the passing game as a whole to show we can put up as many yards as we want. I felt great afterward. It was a great night.”
Heard’s backup, David Haynes, the likely heir apparent under center next season, leads Guyer with just 20 receptions this season and is second with 321 yards behind deep threat Alex Honey.
Haynes is one of several receivers Heard can count on this year — a much different picture than last year’s team that featured current Arizona State wide receiver Ellis Jefferson, and not much else in the wide receivers corps.
“We don’t have the big E.J. that can find windows anywhere,” Heard said. “But these guys get the job done. They run the routes right and catch the ball, and that’s all we need. Everyone has their role and plays it well. They’re doing a great job and get better every day.”
That group of what Walsh said is five or six receivers who can be relied upon has one more game with Heard to prepare for a title defense, but Heard said there is more about tonight’s game that he’s looking forward to.
“It seems like yesterday that we were talking about preseason, but now we’re ready for the playoffs,” Heard said. “We’re ready to get after it.
“It’s going to be the last go-around at C.H. Collins with our boys. That’s the main thing — just enjoying our night and having a blast. We’re just ready for the playoffs to start.”