Battle for the 15-3A Title: #21 Natalia set for #12 Poth

The Natalia Mustangs (7-1) are seeking their first district title since 1989 as they prepare for a showdown vs. #12 state ranked Poth (7-1) Friday Night in Wilson County. This will be no easy task for the boys in blue, as Natalia’s last victory vs. the Pirates came in 1949.
Coming off an open week, the fully healthy Natalia Mustang squad is confident they are ready for the challenge as the winner will have a golden road toward the 15-3A (Div.II) Title.
Open Week Focus
“We had a good week of work during our open week as we spent some time really focusing on fundamentals and fine-tuning some things on both sides of the football,” Natalia Head Coach Ilyan Martinez said.
Poth Outlook
The Poth Pirates are off to a 7-1 season as they enter this Friday’s battle with a 5-0 mark in district play. The Pirates welcomed back seven offensive and six defensive starters from their 9-1 Area Finalist squad.
Thus far this season, the Pirates have the following results: They have a 52-0 win vs. Lytle, a 17-14 win vs. Falls City, 39-10 loss to Shiner, a 48-0 win vs. Karnes City, a 62-0 win vs. Dilley, a 21-0 over Stockdale, a 56-7 win vs. George West and a 49-0 win vs. Nixon-Smiley.
Poth Head Football Coach Jeff Luna was asked what has been the main positive for his program this year and he had the following to say: “I feel like our defense has been a positive for us this year as well as the production we have received from our 2RB’s Zane Raabe Matthew Bunn,” Luna said. “Seth Drzymala has also been solid handling our kicking duties this year for us.”
Luna was also asked is there is an area that is holding back his squad and he stated the following: “As far as a weakness, I feel like we can always improve in the penalty department and limiting those each game,” Luna said. “I also feel as if we need to do a better job on 3rd downs both offensively and defensively as well.”
A season ago, the Pirates were able to hand Natalia a close and competitive 33-26 loss at Mustang Stadium and everyone is expecting this to be quite the battle.
Natalia Head Coach Ilyan Martinez was asked his thought on the Poth offense and defense.
“Offensively, they have a ton of speed especially when they hit the edge,” Martinez said. “They will be in the spread and will try and run the ball. When you commit to trying to stop the run, they are going to take shots down the field and try and get it behind the secondary.
Defensively, the Pirates have been phenomenal in district play, giving up just one touchdown in five games thus far.

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“Defensively, they are playing an odd front, but often slide it to make it an even front,” Martinez said. “They are big and physical up front and they have the best linebackers we have seen all year. They don’t make many mistakes on defense and very sound across the board.
Martinez was asked who are the Pirates to watch out for this Friday night.
“Offensively, they have plenty of weapons to go around,” Martinez said. “QB Jude George is the head of the snake. He has the ability to beat you with his feet as well as his arm.”
“Matthew Bunn and Jaeden Fangman have great speed and can hurt you in a hurry also on offense.”
Poth HC Luna was asked what they will need to do in order to be successful vs. Natalia.
“To be successful against a very good Natalia team, we will need to take care of the football and be efficient in all three phases,” Luna said. “We will have to tackle in space and not hurt ourselves with penalties.”
“Defensively, Trevor Fuller is a returning all-district linebacker and he is the best kid on the field,” Martinez said. “He plays fast and physical and he is sideline to sideline every play.”
“Matthew Bunn is the other inside linebacker and has a nose for the ball. He is involved in almost every tackle.”
Natalia Outlook
The Natalia Mustangs received plenty of praise from Poth Head Coach Jeff Luna when he was asked his thoughts on the boys in blue.
“Natalia is playing really good football right now, as good as anyone we have played all year,” Luna said. “They are big and physical and they do a good job of playing assignment football. Coach Martinez and his staff do a great job of preparing the guys and getting them ready to play. We know in order to have a chance on Friday, we will need to execute and play a complete game in all three phases.”
The deciding factor this Friday aside from the obvious who scores the most touchdowns, will come down to execution up front on the line, turnovers and penalties in a battle between two teams that both feel they are pretty good on offense and defense.
“We will need to be the most physical and sound football team on the field,” Martinez said. “We can’t afford to get in our own way and I believe the team that can make the fewest mistakes, as well as the team that overcomes adversity better will be successful.”
History on the Pirates Side
Although the two programs have played less than 25 times in the history of the two programs, Poth has held the upper hand by far winning every game but what is believed to be one or two. The recorded victory for Natalia came in 1949 vs. the Pirates.
“We understand what’s at stake and no added pressure is going to change that,” Martinez said. “We will show up as prepared as we can be and step out on the field ready to compete at the highest level.”
Kick-off is set
The Natalia Mustangs are asking fans to travel in full force this coming Friday night to Wilson County to support them in their quest for their first for a district football title since 1989.
“We are asking that everyone shows up brings the energy in Poth,” Martinez said.
Come up, wear blue, be loud and cheer on the Natalia Mustangs as they battle the state ranked Pirates. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Jack Lane Stadium.
By Eric Smith
Staff Writer