Natalia ready to battle Cole at Ft. Sam

Elijah Banda avoids a defender. Photo by Adriana Loza.

The Natalia Mustangs (1-0) and the Cole Cougars (1-0) will square off Friday night at Ft. Sam Houston in a non-district battle as both programs are coming off victories to start the season.
The Cole Cougars were able to go into San Antonio Christian and dominate the Lions with a big 52-6 victory, as Natalia is coming off their big-upset win vs. the Jourdanton Indians.
Cole Outlook
The Cole Cougars who compete in Class 14-3A (Div.I) welcome back six offensive and seven defensive starters from their squad that had their season short-changed a year ago to Covid. The Cougars finished just 1-6 overall and 1-5 in district play with their lone victory being over Cotulla 23-22.
This season, the Cougars look much improved which led to a huge road win last Friday night.
“Cole is very athletic and fast this season,” Coach Ilyan Martinez said. “They have lots of talent at their QB position and in their skill areas. We will have our hands full to try and slow them down.”
The Cougars will run a similar offense to Natalia out of their 2-back gun look with a little more spread.
“Their QB is their best player and everything runs through him,” Martinez said. “They have a lot of read schemes for their QB to pull it or give it.”
Senior QB Walker Cunningham put on a show vs. the SAC Lions doing whatever he wanted when he wanted.
Other offensive stand-outs include Senior RB #10 Jeeron Stewart, Sophomore WR #3 Pierre Harris and Senior WR #34 Kentrell Fortenberry.
“Defensively, they run a 3-4 cover 4 scheme,” Martinez said. “Up-front they get off the ball really well and their LBs are downhill players. In the secondary, they keep everything in front of them and run to the ball.”
Natalia Outlook
Natalia will need to control what Natalia can Friday night and that is to finish drives and continue to win the battle up front. Natalia’s line was out-sized vs. Jourdanton, but out-played the Indians and the same will be important on Friday night. Of course, Coach Martinez was also quick to remind how penalties were costly vs. the Tribe.
“We will have to clean up our mistakes and correct the penalties,” Martinez said. “We can’t afford to shoot ourselves in the foot with foolish penalties. We need to continue to establish the run game on offense and shut-down their QB.”
Natalia and Cole did not play a season ago due to COVID. Natalia’s last victory over Cole was 21-9 in 2019-2020 and Cole’s last win over Natalia was 19-0 in 2018-2019.
Kick-off is set
The Mustangs and Cougars will kick-off at 7:30 p.m. at Ft. Sam Houston Friday night. Remember you MUST have your DL and Insurance in order to get on base. Keep an eye on Natalia ISD Athletics social media for any other important details.
Head to the base Friday night and cheer on the boys in blue as they look to start the season 2-0.
By Eric Smith
Staff Writer