Horses finish pre-district strong; district awaits

It seems like forever ago since opening night at Warhorses Stadium when Devine kicked off their 2020 campaign with a 36-7 loss to defending state champion Refugio. That game only produced one positive (that I can recall) which was the Horses will battle to end regardless of circumstances that led to a lopsided loss.
A quick flashback to the Bobcat contest saw the Horses returning Unanimous District MVP Justin Contreras suffer a high ankle sprain on the season’s first kickoff return. Unable to play a single snap since suffering that sprain, Contreras returns to a Warhorse team that is on a roll after posting four straight victories.
While Buddy Santos and Brady Hackebeil have handled the running chores beautifully during the first half of the season through Justin’s injury, adding a third head to the rushing-game monster bolsters an already potent running game.
After Refugio, Devine came back from 14-points down on four different occasions to defeat Uvalde on the Coyotes home turf. The Honey Bowl was a sweet spot for the visitors that night as Devine pulled out a 49-48 victory after the Coyotes place kicker missed a potential game-tying extra point late in the contest.
Randolph was game #3. The Ro-Hawks counted on their strong, quick running game to win their first game of the season and entered Warhorse Stadium with upset on their mind. That vaunted first-game rushing attack present for Randolph prior to playing Devine was quickly shut down by a much-improved, ticked-off Warhorse defense.
Pleasanton could do no wrong at the beginning of their 2019 season, opening with a perfect 6-0 start. The Eagles have not won a game since, including Devine’s 30-7 whooping two weeks ago.
Luling? Please.
That game was over before it began. The confidence the Warhorses generated over a three game winning streak was not going to be slowed by a less talented and less hungry Luling team.
In Devine’s 49-0 whitewashing of the Eagles, seven different Warhorses reached the end zone. The Horses had a 35-0 lead at the half and coasted into their week off.
Now that the Horses are 4-1, what does that really mean?
Absolutely nothing.
For sure, the momentum from their current four game streak will carry on into the district opener against Carrizo Springs. Devine has to stay healthy, and Devine has to stay hungry.
Although the standings show their overall record to be 4-1, nothing substantial has been settled yet in terms of a district championship, or any subsequent championship.
That changes beginning Friday at home as the Carrizo Springs Wildcats enter Warhorse Stadium with the identical district record as Devine—0-0.
District outlook
Game 1, October 9 @ Warhorse Stadium
Carrizo Springs, after starting the season 0-4, picked up its first win of the season in a 19-0 blanking in Robstown. Not sure what that says about Carrizo Springs however as the Cotton Pickers are now 0-4 on their season.
The Wildcats and Horses common opponent is Uvalde. The Coyotes mauled the Wildcats 52-14 in each team’s first game of the 2020 campaign.
Game 2, October 16 @ Warhorse Stadium
The true District 15-4A test comes against the high-flying Hondo Owls. They have put the pedal to the medal this season, generating big wins over Pleasanton, Luling, Uvalde, and Marion before Comfort ‘upset’ them last Friday 34-20.
The Owls and Horses have three common opponents in Pleasanton, Uvalde, and Luling.
Hondo began their season with a 31-0 thumping of Pleasanton after Pleasanton had a solid one or two days of practice due to a COVID shutdown.
Hondo had an easier time with Uvalde than did the Horses. Hondo’s 45-6 gutting of the Coyotes was never a contest. Devine’s 49-48 victory showed the resolve of the Warhorse players to never give up, or to never give in.
Luling against the Owls was similar to the Horses vs Luling. No contest.
One could look at Hondo’s loss to Comfort and think that maybe the Owls aren’t as good as advertised.
That thought could not be further from the truth. Comfort is a very good team that will make a deep run in the state playoffs. Hondo had an early 10-point lead, but could not hang on for the victory.
Devine vs Hondo has the potential to be a Battle of the Creek classic. Get your popcorn ready as this game, yes, this second district game, will determine who the champ is and who the runner-up is.
Game 3, October 23 @ Bulldog Stadium
Bandera, well they’ll always have the Chickin’ Coop.
Bandera, the football team, has had a rough season entering district-play. The Bulldogs have only reached the end zone twice in their first four games, while giving up an average of 53 points per game.
If you have a kid that doesn’t usually get much playing time, definitely don’t miss this game and have your camera ready.
Game 1, October 30 @ Warhorse Stadium
Pearsall opened its season just last week in La Vernia. I’m sure facing the Bears in their first game didn’t do much for the morale in Maverick-land.
However, with La Vernia in their sixth game against Pearsall its first, I am not sure if much should be read into this contest as it wasn’t going to be very competitive with the Mavericks getting their first taste of game action for 2020.
This game should be a treat for the Horses leading into Halloween weekend.
Game 5, November 5 @ Javelina Stadium
Crystal City’s pre-district schedule is crystal-clear at this point. Only able to play one game against Zapata on October 3rd, the Javelina’s have a lot of catching up to do with the rest of the district.
Crystal City is known to have speed in the past, but they must not have had much opportunity to run the ball judging by their 14-7 defeat to the Hawks.
With no stats available on the game, what Crystal City brings to the table is currently unknown.
The usual suspects who are counted on week in and week out such as Brady Hackebeil, Buddy Santos, Mason Burford, John Schnautz, and Aaron Rivera to name a few have been getting more than a helping hand from some youngsters.
Coach speak
Slot receiver coach Evan Eads has the youngest group as far as experience on the team.
“Having two freshmen and two sophomores play such meaningful reps usually is a negative, but they showed poise and maturity,” Eads began his view of the ‘young guns’ he coaches. “They have been a net positive this year. We are excited to get Justin Contreras healthy. We will work on making the offense more explosive and eliminating turnovers.”
It may be hard to make the offense more explosive than it was the last time the Horses took the field in Luling. Devine dominated that game in every phase, and seven different players scored touchdowns.
The linebacker position tells a lot about how a team is or is going to be defensively. If the linebacker core is good, the entire defense has a great chance to eliminate, or at least contain, other teams’ running game.
Eads happens to coach the linebackers as well.
“Only having one linebacker in the group from last year was a concern at the beginning of two-a-days, but these seniors have really stepped up,” Eads said. “Learning different defenses and positions is difficult, but the coaching staff has faith in each position to be very aggressive in upcoming games.”
My view
Devine is all but guaranteed a first or second place finish in district. The real question: Who will win the championship, and who will be runner-up?
The Horses?
The Owls?
I do not think it will take much past 10:15pm on October 16 to end the ‘who-is-the-champion’ drama. The last two or three years, the district championship boiled down to the last possible game, or games when more than one team was in the chase.
The Battle of the Creek Bowl will determine the District 15-4A DII championship.
See ya there!
By Jerel Beaty
Staff Writer