Warhorse tidbits

For a brief moment (or as long as it takes you to digest this opening run-on but grammatically correct sentence) imagine being part of a “group project” in which people within that immediate group practiced over and over and over again to make sure people within group were not only in correct position that allowed for smooth presentational flow and, while practicing, had to wear masks practically 24/7, dressed in full uniform (that roughly weighs about 20 pounds), outside in 100+ temperatures day in and day out and, on the day that your “project” finally gets to be presented to a large group of people who have been chomping at the bit to see your group’s presentation, the lead person who has been rightly counted on to be the main presenter all of a sudden, last minute, and through absolutely no fault of that person cannot be part of the group presentation which, in turn (like a domino effect) forces several people from within the group to be called into action at a moment’s notice forcing them to, instead of fulfilling their role as it was laid out to them over the course of the last month or so, enter the presentation early and are expected to perform their new role flawlessly.
Ok. You can quit imagining now.
How do you think that scenario in a real-life situation would play out if the keynote speaker suddenly came down with laryngitis in a boardroom in the corporate world in front of other businesspersons? Or, a little closer to home if it happened to high school students who were to present a group project that counted as a major grade but the in front of their peers but the main presenter was unexpectedly absent that day?
Or…never mind. You get the picture.
If you can imagine those types of scenarios playing out, you can also clearly imagine what was going through the young minds of some of the Warhorse teenage football players last Friday night as they took the field for the first time this season…against a defending State Champion nonetheless.
Behind the scenes
In the Horses season-opening loss, ill-timed mistakes and possible incorrect calls were only a few of the hurdles the Warhorses were forced to overcome. In practice on Thursday, Devine lost one key player in backup quarterback Jaiden Burford. On the opening kickoff of the season Friday, senior Justin Contreras was lost for the game (and probably longer) after suffering a high ankle sprain.
“We were forced to deal with some adversity before we even ran a play on offense,” Gomez stated in beginning his Friday night assessment. “In Thursday’s practice, we lost Jaiden to an injury so we were down to just one quarterback on Friday. We had Justin practice a few reps at QB since he has played that position before, but then he went down on the first play of the game. There may be some people that were unaware but we did have two quarterbacks practice last week and we had another ex-quarterback get some reps Thursday and Friday at walk through to make sure that we did have a backup.”
Losing Justin, who just happened to be last year’s Unanimous District 14-4A DII MVP, an SA Express News Player of the Week, and a Express News Game Ball recipient, not only hurt the Horses on the offensive side of the ball. He was also the starting rover, and one of the best coverage players on defense. Justin was also supposed to return kickoffs and punts.
Losing a player of Justin’s magnitude before either team had even taken one snap put a lot of emotional pressure on younger players who had to step in right away instead of rotating in as they expected.
Even with all the early game changes, Gomez heaped praise on what his players were able to accomplish.
“Our young backup running backs had to step up and play. I think they performed to the best of their ability. We were just a little stunned at the beginning with kids trying to adjust to assuming the starting role on both offense and defense, and it hurt us quite a bit.”
The young guys may have shown some nerves, but do not mistake nerves for being scared to perform. Devine’s players are ALWAYS ready to step in when called upon.
“The one thing that these boys didn’t do is panic. We may have made some mistakes on defense and offense but they never panicked and they kept competing. They never quit,” Gomez proudly said.
Next man up
The loss of two key players does not change the outlook going forward. Gomez said that his “players know that we have to fix some things and that we have to step up our game to cover for the loss of Justin. Justin is an impact player for us and we know that but what a great opportunity for other young men to step up and make plays for us when their names are called. We have a ‘next man up’ mentality and we will be just fine moving forward.”
Drop it like it’s hot
The game time temperature around kickoff hovered around 104 degrees. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, it may have dropped all the way down to 100…maybe.
“We were dealing with cramping towards the end,” Gomez stated about how the South Texas heat affected some of his players. “Brady Hackebeil had a cramp on his calf that stalled him but we are glad that it was just a cramp and not truly a leg injury. He thought he could go but then he stepped off the field to do some stretching to help the cramp then came back in when he was ready. Colin Dishman did a great job showing senior leadership and taking over at the QB position while Brady was stretching.”
Mute button, please
With stands only at half-maximum capacity due to COVID restrictions, some voices unfortunately carried loudly on a night when 99% of people in the stands were simply extremely happy to be able to watch a game in person.
Judging by no less than three texts messages I received and a couple of conversations with others that were at the game Friday, many Warhorse Nation fans in the stands were wishing that some other ‘fans’ in the stands would have suddenly came down with a case of laryngitis.
The negativity spewing from the HOME stands was disheartening to say the least.
In my opinion just as people have the right to quit reading this article at any time of their choosing if the content is not to that person’s liking, people also have the right to get up and walk out of the stadium if they do not like what they are seeing.
Buying a ticket does not give any person the right to loudly criticize high school coaches, or kids, or anyone else for that matter. Rudely vocalizing personal comments also ruins every other human being’s ability to enjoy the game.
People sitting around negativity do not want to be a part of it, nor should they have to hear it.
People are entitled to their own opinion.
People also have the right to exercise self-control.
Tight knit
Coach Gomez understands that Warhorse football teams are expected to win every Friday night. The successes of the program over the last several decades have raised expectations through the roof.
A season-opening loss will not change the way the players or coaches feel about their own little football-family. Most people know that coaches not only coach football, but also teach life lessons through coaching football.
“We have a very close team that will not let outside negativity bother us. Being able to handle adversity and handling it in a positive way is what we always talk about. That’s life in the real world.”
By Jerel Beaty
Staff Writer