District lead up for grabs Friday in Poth

Varsity Mustang #5 Michael Martinez, #8 Ryan Rizo, and #44 Manuel Garcia target Dilley’s running back.

All of the marbles will be up for grabs this coming Friday in Wilson County, as the Natalia Mustangs (6-1, 2-0) will battle the Poth Pirates (6-1, 2-0) in the 15-3A (Div. II) in what most believe will decide the district title.
Poth Pirate Preview
After dropping the season opener to Randolph 16-12, the Pirates have reeled off five straight wins including victories over: State ranked Falls City (41-8), Karnes City (41-13), Johnson City (31-12), Poteet (48-27), Nixon-Smiley (61-0) and Skidmore Tynan (33-9).
“Poth is as good as advertised,” Natalia Head Coach Ilyan Martinez said. “We are excited about the opportunity to play against one of the best 3A teams in the state. Our coaches and kids understand what is at stake Friday and we won’t waste the opportunity.”
The Pirates return 8 starters on offense and 3 on defense from their squad that won the district title a season ago and finished 10-2 overall falling in the area round of the playoffs.
The Poth Pirates have a high flying high octane offense with numerous weapons around the field.
“Offensively, they base out of the spread offense and are multiple with their formations,” Martinez said. “They have the size and strength to run power run game, but also the speed to get on the edges. Being the reining 7 on 7 state champs, they can sling the ball around a bit and have big play potential every time they snap the ball on the field.”
Offensively, Poth is led by RB #4 Cooper Conn and #10 RB Drew Arevalos. They also have a very talented QB #3 Kolton James.
“They are a three headed attack in the backfield,” Martinez said. “We will have to find a way to contain their two backs, but I feel like the bigger threat is their QB. He commands the offense well and throws a great deep ball. Their offensive line is big and physical and they have some receivers that can go.”
Defensively, the Pirates base out of a 3-4 with some cover 4 and 2 looks.
“They are big and physical up front and do a great job of controlling the line of scrimmage,” Martinez said. “Their secondary and linebackers are athletic as well, so we will have to find ways to take to them.”
Natalia Mustang Preview
The Natalia Mustangs are coming off a perfect storm game in which every position around the field played their best game of the season. Natalia played solid on both sides of the football and will need to do the same Friday night vs. the Pirates.
“We have a great deal of respect for Poth and what they have been able to do,” Martinez said. “We know the challenge in front of us and we understand the opportunity that is being presented to us.”
In the history of the two programs battling, the Pirates have had the upper hand. Since 2004, the two have battled every year but a four year streak (2006-2010) and Poth has won every battle. The closest Natalia got was a three point loss in 2016.
“Defensively, we will have to eliminate big plays and be great tacklers,” Martinez said. “They are very explosive and we have to do all we can to contain their speed. We will also have to find ways to create extra possessions with turnovers and 3rd down efficiency.”
“Offensively, we will need to continue to be efficient with our possessions and make the most of our opportunities,” Martinez said. “They don’t make a lot of mistakes on defense, so we will need to play assignment sound and take care of the football.”
One key to victory will also be what happens with the boys in front. Poth is quick on the edge and will bring pressure at various times throughout the game. Natalia will need to provide coverage for Woodson and allow him time to make things happen with his arm and feet.
Natalia will not be as quick as Poth, but will need to be more physical.
Starting fast is a MUST Friday night, due to the big play ability by the Pirates. Last but not least, ignore the Poth Pirate Flag on the helmet. Yes, Poth has won almost every battle, but every good team is due to go down, just ask the Jourdanton Indians who are coming off a loss vs. Cotulla. The Cowboys wanted it more and made more plays. The same will be needed Friday night at Jack Lane Stadium.
Seating will be limited due to the small visitor side and a large Natalia Band, so be sure to show up early, wear blue, be loud and cheer on the Mustangs!
“We will need our fans out in full force Friday night and will need them to be loud,” Martinez said.
The kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Jack Lane Stadium as the Mustangs and Pirates will battle!
By Eric Smith
Staff Writer