For the first time since 1983, the Natalia Mustangs and the East Bernard Brahmas will meet on the football field. Natalia is advancing to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2002, as East Bernard is advancing to the Area Round for a 9th straight season.
The Brahmas enter this week’s battle as the #1 team in Region IV and the #2 ranked squad in the entire state of Texas in 3A, Division II according to two major polls.
Judson ISD’s J.W. Rutledge Stadium will be the site for the clash on Friday night, as the kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. between the boys from Medina County who wear blue and the boys from Wharton County who wear maroon.
East Bernard Preview
Coach Wade Bosse has led the East Bernard Brahmas to an 11-0 record during his fourth season at the helm of the Brahmas. Since 1998, the Brahmas have only missed the playoffs in 2003 and 2009 as they finished with the following records: 2010 (8-5), 2011 (10-2), 2012 State Champs (15-0), 2013 (12-1), 2014 (11-2), 2015 (12-3), 2016 (11-2), 2017 (10-2) and 2018 (13-2) where they lost to Newton in the State Semi-Finals.
This season, the Brahmas are 11-0 with the following wins: Rice Consolidated (23-6), Hitchcock (49-6), Edna (27-10), Van Vleck (56-0), Tidehaven (34-24), Schulenburg (42-14), Ganado (27-14), Bloomington (54-0), Danbury (63-0) and a 42-0 win vs. 4th seed Sonora in the Bi-District Playoffs a week ago.
“They are a very good football team with a long history of success,” Coach Martinez said. “We are excited about the opportunity we have in front of us. We know it won’t be easy, but we are excited about it.”
East Bernard is a run heavy squad that runs the Slot-T with a senior led offensive line.
“They have some backs that can get around the edge in a hurry and some downhill runners,” Martinez said. “We will have our work cut out for us, but we are excited about the situation.”
The leading rusher for the Brahmas is junior K. Brown who has 76 carries for 910 yards and 16 TDs this season. T. Baggett is next in line with 66 carries for 539 yards and 7 touchdowns as D. Chapman rounds out their top three backs with 92 carries for 460 yards and 7 TDs for EB.
Their QB can throw the football when needed, as D. Novicke the sophomore has completed 44-73-928 yards-14TDs with 5 INTs this season. His go to man is Baggett who has 13 receptions for 285 yards and 4 TDs. C. Little also has 7 receptions for 147 yards and 3 TDs as K. Brown has 6 receptions for 131 yards and 2 TDs.
“Defensively, they run a split cover-3 look,” Martinez said. “They are big up front and simple in their schemes. They play base defense and are very good at it. They don’t make mistakes and play physical up front. We are going to have to get out in space to make plays.”
The Natalia Mustangs will need to show up like they did a week ago and bring the same energy and then some against East Bernard. Natalia will need to worry more about what they do, then to get caught up in the fact they are facing the #2 state ranked squad. East Bernard does return five offensive and four defensive starters from a season ago.
“Make no mistake, we know how good they are, but we feel like when our kids play to their potential, they can compete against anyone. We feel fortunate to have this opportunity and we won’t waste it,” Martinez said.
Natalia will benefit from facing the same offense for a third straight week. One disadvantage which is nothing knew will be the fact they will be undersized compared to a very large senior led line from EB, most who are over 6’0″ and most who weight over 240 lbs.
Natalia will need to sustain their blocks up front, allow runners to get out in space and allow Woodson time to test the East Bernard secondary.
Defensively, you will not be able to just hit these talented backs and expect them to come down easy. We will need to be solid defensively and finish tackles. The special teams unit will play key also, as Woodson did a phenomenal job pinning Hebbronville deep in their own end-zone all night. Natalia will also need to win the turnover battle as they did a week ago.
Anything can happen in the playoffs as we see each week throughout the entire state.
The Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. and Natalia has a 35 minute drive compared to an almost 3 hour drive for East Bernard Fans. Be sure to come early, be loud, wear blue and cheer on the Mustangs at J.W. Rutledge Stadium Friday night as they clash with #2 EB! #TTP
By Eric Smith