The Natalia Mustangs (0-4) will open district play this coming Friday on the road in Kendall County vs. the Comfort Bobcats (2-3, 1-0). This will be the first time since 2002, Natalia and Comfort compete in Comfort and just the 2nd time since 02 they battle.
How did the off-week go?
Natalia Head Coach Ilyan Martinez was asked how the off-week went for his squad and what the focus was and he had the following to say: “Our focus this week was getting back to some fundamentals and making some personnel adjustments to sure-up some spots,” Martinez said.
Comfort was an old district competitor of Natalia as they competed from the mid- to late 90s until the early 2000s in most sports. It was a cold, wet and sleeting night the last time Natalia played in Comfort and not one the Natalia Faithful want to remember vs at the time, a state ranked Bobcat squad. Natalia scored first and Comfort reeled off too many to remember and state in the article, as it is truly irrelevant as to the district opener for Natalia this Friday.
Comfort enters the game with a 2-3 record as they began the season with tough non-district losses to Johnson City (58-20), Ingram (28-21) and Blanco (39-21) before winning their final non-district game vs. Brackett 55-15.
Last week, the Cats traveled to Nixon and defeated the Mustangs 43-16 as the Red and White Mustangs were missing two of their key offensive weapons on the field.
“I am really impressed with Comfort,” Natalia Head Coach Ilyan Martinez said. “Coach Rankin and his staff have done a great job of getting their team to play, physical, smash-mouth football. They are very disciplined and do not make a lot of mistakes.”
According to Martinez, the Cats are basing their offense primarily out of a Slot-T formation. “They have a running-back who can go when he gets in space and they do a good job of getting him the ball.”
That young man is a sophomore, #4 Topper Sterling and they also have a stand-out lineman Fabian Neri who is senior Martinez was also complimentary of on the offensive side of the ball for Comfort.
According to Martinez, defensively the Cats play a 3-4 defense and man up receivers.”They load the box and force you to throw the ball,” Martinez said. We are going to have to take some shots to keep them honest.”
Defensive stand-outs include #66 Fabian Neri-(DL) and #20 Israel Lopez (Sr. DB).
“Neri comes off the ball well and is always involved in the play,” Martinez said. “He creates some issues up front. Lopez does a great job of running to the ball and is aggressive all around.”
Natalia’s issues thus far as not putting three complete phases together in one game. There have been some bright spots on offense, defense and special teams, but not all on the same night thus far. When you combine that with injuries and penalties, it has not resulted in enough success to account for a victory thus far.
“We will need to be sound in all three phases of the game,” Martinez said. “It will be a physical football game and the team that wins the line of scrimmage will come out on top in my opinion. We have a good game plan in place and we will work this week to assure our guys execute it to the best of their ability.”
Last season, the Natalia Mustangs were able to defeat Comfort 42-27 in Natalia in the 15-3A (Div.II) battle. Natalia went on to finish one game ahead of Comfort in 3rd place in district as the Cats finished in 4th place in district.
Kickoff is set
Be sure to make the one hour and a half trip to Comfort to support the boys in blue as district play has arrived. A tough non-district will prepare Natalia for what is to come. The boys have worked hard and need you in the stands loud and proud Friday night. The kick-off is set for 7:30 p.m. and see Natalia ISD Social Media for ticket information later in the week.