Your Natalia Mustangs will open the season with their lone scrimmage Thursday, August 20th on the road versus the Bandera Bulldogs. According to Natalia Head Coach Ilyan Martinez the first two weeks of UIL workouts have been productive, safe and positive for the boys in blue.
“We are very grateful for the opportunity to be back with our athletes,” Natalia Head Coach Martinez said. “I never take a day for granted and I have been really impressed with how well our kids have adapted to the changes.”
The Mustangs have had over 50 out each and every day thus far and they are looking for a return shot at the UIL playoffs this season. Natalia will adjust to a very unique schedule that will include two non-district battles (Jourdanton and Lytle) prior to the start of district.
Of course district play will look slightly different this season. Skidmore-Tynan moved to the Coastal Bend. Karnes City along with George West moved into Natalia’s district to join the likes of Dilley, Poth, Stockdale and Nixon-Smiley. Natalia will also have at least one other non-district opponent, Odem, that will be played during an open week between district opponents. Banquete was a second non-district game expected to be played in the middle of a unique district schedule set-up, but the Bulldogs pulled out. It is unknown if an opponent will be found to replace Banquete.
Natalia wrapped up their second straight week of practice and Coach Martinez was asked about his thoughts on the positives so far that he has seen.
“The two positives that stand out to me are: #1 our kids are in great shape considering they haven’t had the spring and summer they are used to having,” Martinez said. “#2 our kids have retained so much information we are further ahead at this point than we have ever been.”
According to Martinez, one of the areas that could use improvement, which is typical for the start of the season, is simply being a bit more crisp with execution and consistency.
“Our kids know what we need to do is to be more consistent in our execution.”
The Natalia Mustangs will square off with an unfamiliar opponent this coming Thursday as they face the Bandera Bulldogs. Bandera is returning five starters and 10 lettermen from a season ago according to their Head Coach Joel Fontenot-Amedee. I had the chance to talk with the Head Coach of the Bulldogs and he had the following to say:
“We are fired up to be practicing football again,” Fontenot-Amedee said. “Practice has gone well so far, as we are enjoying each minute we get together as a team.”
According to him their strength so far is their defense. “Our defense has to be our strength as our line-backer crew in particular is a group we are really excited about. Areas that need improvement are we are fairly young as a team and we will need to gain experience playing at the varsity level,” Fontenot-Amedee said.
According to Bulldog Nation, they feel they have a very competitive schedule and will have to get that experience quickly.
“When it comes to this Thursday, we want to have fun, play hard and honestly we are excited to face Natalia,” Fontenot-Amedee said. “Coach Martinez has done a great job over there and I know from my time at Cole, he will have them ready to play and it will be a physical scrimmage.”
Natalia’s Coach Martinez also added a few comments about facing Bandera: “We want to just stay healthy, put some good reps on tape to evaluate the season opener,” Martinez said. “I know Bandera is coming off a great year. They are big and physical and Coach Amadee has done a great job of getting his team to play at a high level.”
Amadee is joined by DC Manny Martinez who coached at Dilley and Lytle. “I am familiar with Coach Amadee from his days at Cole and also Martinez from Dilley and Lytle. I am ready for this Thursday as are our boys.”
The scrimmage is set for 6:00 p.m. at Bandera Bulldog Stadium. Exact COVID restrictions had not been released as far as fan attendance as of press time. Check Natalia ISD Social Media for updates.
By Eric Smith