There was nothing ice-cold about the Guyer Wildcats on Monday night.
In fact, it only took a few minutes for head coach John Walsh to find out if the weekend’s winter ice storm and the numerous schedule changes would impact his football team in the Class 4A Division I Region I final against Birdville at UNT’s Apogee Stadium.
In the end, it had no impact.
“We had three days of practice and three days off,” he said. “But they were spot-on in our walk-through before the game, so I knew they were ready. I told them I was very impressed with the intelligence they brought back [after the layoff].”
The regional final was originally scheduled for Friday night at Northwest ISD Stadium. It was moved to Saturday after the ice storm slammed the Denton area on Thursday night. The game was eventually moved to Monday, and the icy streets kept the team from any meetings or practices since last Thursday.
But the Wildcats showed no signs of a letdown Monday, scoring on their first drive and rolling to a 53-28 victory to advance to Saturday’s state semifinals against Highland Park. The win enables the Wildcats (12-2) to move a step closer to defending their state championship.
The Wildcats would score on five of their six first-half possessions, and eight of 11 for the game. They answered every Birdville score with a score of their own, and the Wildcats did not turn the ball over.
“What we just did, we haven’t played or practiced since Thursday, and we were still able to roll and connect like that,” said quarterback Jerrod Heard. “It was very impressive.”
To say the least. Heard had a hot hand himself, completing 11 of 14 passes for 135 yards and one touchdown pass, while rushing for 212 yards on 20 carries and two more scores.
“There were a few times I was going crazy,” offensive lineman Hunter Krastin said of the layoff. “We couldn’t practice or do anything. But I think we all kept our focus. We knew what we had to do. I think it showed the maturity of this team.”
The challenge for the Wildcats now is managing their energy for the possibility of having to play two more games in the next 11 days. A victory Saturday against Highland Park would send the Wildcats to the state championship game on Dec. 20. They could end up playing three games in a span of 12 days.
“At this point, it really doesn’t make a difference,” said running back DJ Breedlove, who rushed for 115 yards on 15 carries and three touchdowns. “You’ve got to be a good football team and deal with the adversity, whatever it is. We know what we have to do. Tonight, it was Birdville. Now we get ready for the next one.”