Mustangs set for final scrimmage vs. Bandera

Luis Buentello tries to break a tackle. Photo by Justin Welsh.

The Natalia Mustangs will welcome the Bandera Bulldogs (15-4A DII) to town Thursday for their final scrimmage of the 2021 season. Natalia is coming off a competitive opening scrimmage vs. the 5A Burbank Bulldogs.
Burbank Re-Cap: The Natalia Varsity Mustangs opened their season on the road in San Antonio last Friday vs. Burbank. The Varsity Mustangs showed promise in their opening drive, as they used hard-nosed runs and short passes to move the ball quickly down the field on a 69 yard drive. This drive ended on the 1-yard line when Natalia was headed toward the corner of the end-zone where they fumbled the football.
In the remainder of the controlled scrimmage portion of the contest, Burbank began to gain confidence and steam as they were able to score three times on the Mustangs.
Once the controlled scrimmage portion was complete, the two battled in one live quarter. The Natalia defense which struggled at times vs. the pass and somewhat stopping the run on various schemes, was able to find a big positive forcing a turnover near midfield.
Natalia’s offense found the same type of momentum they did on their opening drive in the controlled portion and marched down field scoring their first touchdown of the scrimmage on a Ryan Rizo pass to David Silva in the endzone.
Natalia’s defense would not break during the live quarter, as they were able to hold the Bulldogs scoreless.
What should have been a 3-touchdown to 2 contest finished with the 3-1 overall edge by the Bulldogs.
“I felt our kids played hard and played to the level we expected them to,” Natalia Head Coach Ilyan Martinez said. “I felt our defense did a great job early on and I was happy with how our offense did considering we had a completely new one out there.”
Martinez was asked what areas he felt held the Stangs back vs. Burbank. “We are still working on the chemistry and fluidity of our offense,” Martinez said. “With an entirely new team out there, we are working through some growing pains.”
Bandera Preview
The Mustangs will move on to scrimmage #2 this coming Thursday as the Bandera Bulldogs come to town. Bandera is a member of Class 4A, Division II and will compete in District 15 once again where they are picked to finish in 5th behind Hondo, Devine, Carrizo Springs and Pearsall and just ahead of Crystal City.
The Bulldogs who are led by Coach Joel Fontenor-Amedee, welcome back nine offensive and seven defensive starters from a squad that went 0-9 and 0-5 a season ago.
Bandera opened their season last week with a scrimmage vs. LaPryor in which they dominated the 2A Bulldogs who also have struggled recently.
Bandera was led during the scrimmage by senior RB Luke Barnett who scored two touchdowns and rushed for 90 yards vs. LP along with three young men who all played QB for the Bulldogs during the scrimmage accounted for a combined 263 yards passing with sophomore Cardenas accounting for the most passing yards (4-5-103).
“We will continue to evaluate some positions and stay healthy vs. Bandera,” Martinez said. “We are going to put a little more out there and see what it looks like on tape.”
The JV Mustangs will open the scrimmage at 6:00 p.m. with the varsity set for a 7:00 p.m. start. Parking will be an issue this week due to construction. Limited parking will be on Miller Street as the remainder of the parking will be at the Natalia HS Parking lot. You will have to walk around by the baseball and softball field to access the football field.
By Eric Smith
Staff Writer