Warhorses look sharp vs Gonzales but plenty work lies ahead

With Devine’s annual Navarro scrimmage scratched somewhat last minute due to a Coronavirus outbreak in Geronimo, Head Coach Paul Gomez scrambled to find a suitable challenger for his Warhorses as they prepare to open their 2020 season Friday night in Devine. Gonzales, due also to a last-minute cancelled scrimmage versus Poteet, proved a worthy candidate to Gomez’s “suitable challenger” quest. The teams battled to a 3-3 tie overall.
Gonzales presented Devine speed, size, and plenty athleticism. Those combinations are what the Horses do not necessarily see during a normal practice day. The up-and-coming JV players will be all of those three things and more as they progress through Devine’s demanding off-season programs, but going against a strange, and new opponent is what the Warhorses needed to conclude its two-a-day camp.
“It was a very good scrimmage for us,” Gomez said. “We needed to see a spread offense as well as their fast pace. It was good to see our defense adjust to the tempo and really be physical. Gonzales has one of the biggest offensive lines in Texas at any classification and it was definitely a good test for us.”
A test it was, indeed. Gonzales’s line was huge and their offensive skill positions were fast…but not so big or so fast that the Warhorses showed any hesitation going against one of the better teams they will face over the next eleven weeks.
Admittedly, there were some times that Devine was off-station, or did not complete an assignment as designed in practices. Even so, Gomez liked what he saw saying, “Sure we made some mistakes, but we made them going full speed and that is what you want to see in a defense. We had many ‘hats to the ball’ and really did a good job adjusting to varsity speed! The game is so much faster than in our looks in practice and I think we adjusted well.”
Being fast and being able to go “full speed” throughout a scrimmage says a lot of how the Horses train throughout practices. Busting their tails while getting reps or hustling from station to station undoubtedly helped not only their conditioning but also their ability to remain focused throughout.
“Offensively we did some really good things,” Gomez commented on Offensive Coordinator PJ Wells’s unit. “I think we had some good drives that really wore them down. We were physical on the offensive line and our backs ran physical as well.”
Being physical up front against a decent-sized Apaches defensive line gives Gomez a nice outlook to how those position players will perform against upcoming competition. In addition, if they can continue to dominate up front, the speed and vision of the Warhorse backfield should rack up nice yardage in 2020.
“Buddy Santos, Justin Contreras, and Brady Hackebeil ran really hard and our young kids made some good plays as well. Nate Ramirez, Ethan Santos, Gabe Esquibel, Aiden Zapata, Marcus Rodriguez, and Hayden DuBose did some good things. Our offensive line blocked well. Big John Schnautz, Aaron Rivera, and Geoffrey Seal really played aggressive and Kannon Ramirez and Haydn Brumage were pleasant surprises. Jared Fernandez, Logan Camarillo, Devin Ornelas, and Zackery Martinez are getting their plays down and you will see an improvement as well. Our tight ends blocked well for us! Christian Gerlach, Colin Dishman, and Mason Martinez were solid. Our passing game will improve as we go along and I think we are going to make good strides in the passing game.”
“We were very basic but we executed really well for the most part,” Gomez continued. “Our #2s (backups) need to step it up a bit and I think they will this week. We should see improvement now that we have seen varsity speed and know now how we need to prepare.”
Scoring recap
The overall final score knotted at three touchdowns each. Devine’s first group scored all three of their touchdowns with Justin Contreras scoring on a two-yard run and Brady Hackebeil taking in an eight-yarder in the untimed scrimmage section. Gonzales scored twice as well with a mixed group of first-teamers against the Warhorses second unit.
In the timed quarter, Devine’s Buddy Santos scored untouched up the Warhorse sideline form 63 yards out. The extra point attempt by Jacob Featherly did not quite make it over the crossbar. The Apaches bounced back to score on a 6-yard run and converted the extra point kick to unofficially win the frame 7-6.
Getting defensive
“I thought our effort was great the whole scrimmage,” stated Warhorse Defensive Coordinator George Villa regarding his unit’s play last Thursday evening. “We made some mistakes but their effort was always very visible. I was proud that we had two take-aways. A fumble recovery by Christian Gerlach and an interception by Brady Hackebeil put a quick end to two of their drives. Our front four did an excellent job going up against one of the biggest offensive lines in the state. Our secondary for the most part did very good job vs the pass with the exception of one long completion. We definitely have some things to clean up but what excites me the most is our aggressive attitude and our willingness to give maximum effort.”
Coach Gomez was equally as pleased with the defensive effort saying, “Coach Villa has the whole defense running to the ball on every play in practice and I think it really helped us out there. Gonzales had speed out there and it was good for us to see that because that is what we will see this Friday night. Refugio will definitely have some speed! Our defensive front played really well and made some big plays. Gerlach, John Schnautz, Aaron Rivera, Geoffrey Seal, Haydn Brumage, Jared Fernandez, Kannon Ramirez, and Zach Martinez played well up front! Our linebackers and rovers made some big plays as well. Linebackers Buddy Santos and Colin Dishman were solid. Devin Ornelas and Ramirez need to keep coming on and get in the mix. Rovers Rodriguez, Justin Contreras, Xsavior Martinez, Hayden DuBose, and Justin Rozier combined for some good tackles. Our secondary did some good things out there. Our veterans like Mason Burford, Hackebeil, and Xavier Contreras made some good plays and even our young freshmen (Gabriel Esquibel, Ethan Santos, Jaiden Burford, and Nate Ramirez) went out there and made some big plays.”
Coach speak
Linebacker and slot receiver coach Evan Eads was encouraged by what he saw from several of his position players, but also found areas of improvement that will be addressed.
“All the linebackers showed improvement in the scrimmage,” Eads stated regarding the play of Buddy Santos, Colin Dishman, Devin Ornelas, and Robert Ramirez. “Buddy and Colin read well and attached their blocks while Robert was vocal, which was instrumental in getting us lined up. Devon took some shots early, but I am very pleased with how he responded.”
As far as needs to address, Eads thought players may have had a small lapse of concentration at times during the scrimmage saying, “We lost our focus in the red zone and gave up an easy touchdown, but we learned in film and the scrimmage taught us a lot about who we are as a position.”
Peyton Carr is a linebacker as well but is currently on the injured reserve list.
On the flip side of the ball, Eads’s slot receivers are catching on to a somewhat new position and terminology. The slot position is primed for athletes who have good speed and good hands as they are often called upon to either run the ball or to make catches out of the backfield.
“Justin Contreras, Nate Ramirez, Gabe Esquibel, Ethan Santos, Aiden Zapata, and Elijah Sanchez (injured) all have speed and all can be good blockers,” Eads said about the physical talents of his slot players. “The guys new to varsity are learning how important little things are like: alignment, first step, eyes, helmet placement, etc. Although some are learning for the first time how fast varsity is, none of them seemed out of place. We are excited as a staff to see these kids improve.”
Wide receiver coach Scott Taylor is optimistic his three position players will contribute to the Warhorse’s success this season. When it comes time for Devine to pass the ball, Coach Taylor’s kids will be willing and able to make some catches.
“Mason Burford, Xavier Contreras (who also plays some at fullback), and Justin Rozier did a good job and played really hard. Even though there were a few minor mistakes, we will learn from them and they can be corrected. Mason didn’t get much of a break all night but still ran good routes and caught a pass for a decent gain.”
Up next
Refugio at Warhorse Stadium Friday, August 28. Kickoff is set for 7:30pm.
By Jereal Beaty
Staff Writer