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Natalia Head Football Coach Ilyan Martinez has had a consistent message for not only the newspaper, but his team leading into this week’s District 15-3A (Div. II) opener. “Don’t allow the 1-4 record to fool you; they are better than their record indicates as they have faced some tough non-district competition,” Coach Ilyan Martinez said.
History will back-up what Coach Martinez had to say, as Bobby Russell Field in Wilson County is not a place that has been very kind to the Mustangs through the years. Stockdale always plays tough at home and has won more than they have lost versus Natalia at this location.
A season ago, the Brahmas were able to finish 5-6 on the season and 3-2 in district play. Versus Natalia, the Brahmas fell to Natalia 10-7 in what was a true defensive battle from start to finish.
The 2018 Stockdale Brahmas are coming into the game with a 1-4 record as they have accounted for the following results: 33-10 loss to Schulenburg, 28-0 win over Karnes City, 43-0 loss to Falls City, a 28-14 loss against Yorktown, and a 35-21 loss to Louise.
“Stockdale is Stockdale,” Coach Martinez said. “They are going to be big and physical up front and they have a few skill guys who can move in space.”
Offensively, Stockdale is going to be very multiple on offense, but base out of the pro-gun look.
“Offensively, the head of their snake is their junior QB, #2 Alonzo Marquez,” Martinez said. “He is a very smart football player who is always putting them in good situations. We will have to do a good job of limiting his opportunities.”
So far when he is under center, Marquez is 41-81-420 yards-5TDs and 4INTs this season. He has also rushed 80-416-3TDs when he decides to try and make things happen with his feet.
The next true threat is junior RB Travis May, who is 53-239-2TDs this season. Other possible contributors when it comes to skilled Brahmas include #12 Baudains (RB) and junior WR Markgraf (14-173-2TDs).
“Defensively, they are a split cover-3 and they come off the ball very well and always do a great job of running to the football,” Martinez said.
The Natalia Mustangs have shown extreme improvement in each of their previous five weeks. They most recently enjoyed an open week which allowed them to not only work on a few areas that needed improvement and fine-tuning, but allowed to heal a few bumps and bruises.
“I thought we had a really good bye week,” Martinez said. “We were able to get some of our kids healthy and get back to some fundamentals.”
One thing Natalia will need to do in order to be successful is to win the battle up front like they have the previous three weeks of the season.
It is no secret, Natalia will most likely be out-sized versus Stockdale on the line, but that is no different than what they have faced all season long. Natalia will need to continue to use technique and discipline to beat the Brahmas where it counts.
Offensively, Natalia will need to hold onto the football and not force things offensively through the air. Natalia should be able to mix things up a bit when a good mix of passes and runs as Gutierrez and staff should have a good night on the ground. Woodson should also be able to have a good night at QB, as he will look for favorite targets Zapata, Martinez, Vasquez, and others. As long as Natalia stays disciplined, they should have the better offense Friday night at Bobby Russell Field.
Defensively, Natalia will need to continue to step up the aggression and pop the Brahmas in the mouth early and often. Keep in mind, the Brahma QB is not a veteran at the position and when pressured, he has not been as successful.
“We need to continue to get better and eliminate our mistakes,” Martinez said. “We know we have to play a lot better if we want to compete in our district.”
The Natalia Mustangs and the Stockdale Brahmas will kick-off district 15-3A (Div. II) action Friday night at 7:30 p.m. in Wilson County! Come out, be loud, wear blue and cheer on the Mustangs as they begin their quest for a trip to the playoffs for a second straight season.
“We love our crowd and we are hoping they show up in big numbers as always and bring the energy in Stockdale,” Martinez said.
By Eric Smith