FOOTBALL: Monahans, Shallowater meet up again
Nov 23, 2012 (Odessa American - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
It was just a scrimmage, but the Monahans football players could tell Shallowater had it out for them.
The Loboes eliminated the Mustangs from last year's playoffs with a 27-20 win in a Class 3A Division II state quarterfinal at Grande Communications Stadium in Midland. So when the teams met for an informal matchup prior to this season, Shallowater came out swinging.
Monahans (7-4) expects the Mustangs (11-0) to be even meaner at 3 p.m. today at the Mustang Bowl in Andrews, where they'll be trying to end each other's seasons in an area-round matchup.
"During the scrimmage, they definitely wanted to play a little harder against us because of what happened in the playoffs," Monahans middle linebacker Jackson Scharf said. "We of course have to have that same mentality. We know they're going to bring their best, obviously."
Shallowater coach Kyle Maxfield said his players aren't necessarily excited about facing Monahans again, but they're excited about facing the challenge again. Maxfield said the Loboes are better than their record might indicate, because of the difficult schedule they played, and just as physical and fundamentally sound as they were a year ago.
"They're really good, man," Maxfield said. "They're just blue collar and get after you every play on both sides of the ball."
Still, the Loboes expect the Mustangs to be tougher to beat today than they were last season, when the game wasn't decided until the final few minutes. Shallowater was somewhat of a surprise quarterfinalist last season, reaching that point after finishing third in its district, whereas this year the Mustangs could be considered the favorite.
Shallowater steamrolled its way through the regular season, beating eight of its 10 opponents by at least 10 points and winning its five District 2-3A games by an average margin of 23.4 points. The Mustangs then made minced meat out of Dalhart in the bi-district round, winning 41-13 with an offense that racked up 412 rushing yards.
Senior running back Jarek Black has amassed 2,290 yards and 29 touchdowns rushing despite missing the last two regular-season games with a broken hand, and Kade Willis led the way last week with 163 yards and four TDs on only 12 carries.
"They're a lot more run-oriented this year, and they've got a running back that's really, really good," Monahans coach Mickey Owens said. "They're probably every bit as good as they were last year, but just a different type of team."
The Loboes aren't necessarily any different -- they still pride themselves on defense and running the ball out of the Wing-T formation -- but they've taken a different path to this year's playoff matchup with the Mustangs. Monahans lost its first two games of the season and didn't get above .500 until beating Snyder on Oct. 26.
But the Loboes finished second in District 4-3A, with their only loss a 20-17 defeat against a second-ranked Abilene Wylie team that beat each of its other opponents by at least 17 points. And since rallying from a 21-point fourth-quarter deficit against Sweetwater on Nov. 2, Owens said the Loboes have been "hitting our stride."
They've developed a reliable running back tandem in Rogelio Sauceda and Freddy Garcia, who have combined to rush for 1,685 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. Monahans' defense has forced 14 turnovers while allowing only 252.5 total yards per game, which ranks second among teams in the Permian Basin.
"We had to search a little bit and find who we are as a team and kind of come together and work hard and get the job done week after week," Monahans guard Christian Gonzales said. "We've come a long way since the beginning of the season, and I think now we're pretty much to the point where we like to be."
Whether Monahans is good enough to beat Shallowater again remains to be seen. Owens said it won't be easy, but he also sees some parallels between this week's game and last year's second-round matchup with Lubbock Estacado.
Owens said many expected the Matadors to beat the Loboes, who scored on the first play from scrimmage and ended up winning 27-7 on the same field they'll be playing on today. Monahans continued to win until it ran into Argyle in the state semifinals, and this year's team hopes to put together a similar run.
First, though, the Loboes must survive another matchup with the Mustangs.
"We're real excited. It's going to be a good game," Garcia said. "They're pretty good, but we'll see what happens on Friday."
Contact Adam Zuvanich on twitter @OAzuvanich, on Facebook at OA Adam Zuvanich or call 432-333-7649.
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