A change of attitude, with a couple of big plays on all three phases of the game, was what it took for the Apaches (5-1, 1-0) to come back down 13-0 to beat the previously unbeaten Pleasanton Eagles (6-1, 0-1) 20-13.
“First off all I want to tip my hat to a very well coached football team right there,” Gonzales head football coach Mike Waldie said. “Coach [Stephen] Liska and his staff deserve a lot of credit. That’s a hard game for anybody to lose right there.”
Waldie noted that it wasn’t necessarily the play calling nor the execution that changed after the halftime break. Rather, it was the team’s mindset that allow them to score 20 unanswered points in the second half.
“Attitude, confidence, little swagger, that’s what we talked about at halftime,” Waldie said. “It wasn’t an X and O thing. We were losing at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. We weren’t running through tackles, we were missing some tackles, we were letting some big third downs happen, and it wasn’t Xs and Os, it was attitude and I’m not sure, they just got into a little bit of a funk, they’re kids. And I promised them one thing — the team that played with the most confidence in the second half would win, and we did that. Did we execute a little better? Yeah. But confidence created that. It all came down to that.”
Waldie also gave credit to an Apaches defense that shut down a high-powered Pleasanton offense. The Eagles averaged 41.2 points per game, with their lowest output a 28-0 victory over Pearsall on Sept. 13.
“[Defense] played great in the first half, that was the problem,” Waldie said, “we did nothing on offense, kept putting them in a bind, and we actually gave up three plays for two scores. A 4th and 7 play to the tight end, we just lost him there, and two big pass plays. Other than that, we played a great first half. We eliminated the big play in the second half, we did what we needed to do on #80 [Dalton Hobbs] and try to have them beat us with somebody else and the first half, #6 [Nathan Bosquez] stepped up, got to give them credit, but the second half he didn’t, we flipped [Arbreyon] Dora on him and when we took both of them away, they had a little problem.”
Hobbs, listed at 6 feet 4 inches tall, was limited to three catches for 26 yards. Bosquez played well, with a 43-yard reception in Pleasanton’s first offensive drive, but was then held to no catches in the second half.
Meanwhile, Dora put up numbers on both offense and defense, coming away with two interceptions, one of which he returned for 33 yards to set the Gonzales offense up on the Pleasanton 8-yard line. After a Heath Henke seven-yard run, Dora punched it in as the wildcat quarterback for the offense’s second touchdown of the night. The made extra point by Daniel Cruz gave the Apaches a 14-13 lead with 6:00 left in the fourth quarter.
Special teams was a factor late in the game after another Apache touchdown. Up 20-13, Derrick Garza tackled the Pleasanton kickoff returner on the Gonzales 18. With no timeouts and 25 seconds left on the clock, the Eagles offense faced the tough task of going down the field 81 yards to try to extend the game.
“Full team win again, you can give credit at some point in the game to all three [phases],” Waldie said. “Interceptions on defense, stops on defense, big plays on offense, great kicks on punts, flipping the field into the wind tonight, their punt returns are two of the best we’ve seen all year and they didn’t get loose at all today. Those hidden yardages, I’m telling you, people don’t notice it, they don’t really pay attention to the game and we won the hidden yardage big tonight. We flipped the field. The wind was a big factor with that.”
The clock ran out on the Eagles and Gonzales took the 20-13 victory, moving the Apaches to an important 1-0 record in District 15-4ADI.
“In a five-team district, there are so many scenarios, but anytime you’re 1-0 and you got head-to-head on somebody, that’s step one into the playoffs,” Waldie explained. “Lot of games to be played, got a really good Beeville team, I think beat La Vernia tonight. It’s a tough league. You got to be ready to play every week and we’re back on the road after being at home for a month and a bye, so we got to get back on that yellow [bus] for a tough trip down there. Just excited to go play a good football team. Coach [Chris] Sosa, he’s a legend and I’m looking forward to playing his football team this week.”
Beeville Jones (7-0, 1-0) beat La Vernia 49-28. Boerne was on a bye.
The Gonzales Apaches travel to Beeville to take on the Trojans next Friday, Oct. 18. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.