Some of the glitz and glamour may be gone from Texarkana with quarterback Ryan Mallett now playing for Michigan, but Waxahachie head coach David Ream warns that Friday’s game at Greenville will be just as difficult as last year’s.
Although the names on the Tigers’ sideline have changed, Ream has not noticed any change in talent.
“They had a senior team as far as skill people go last year, but to me they all look the same, just with different numbers on their jersey,” he said. “They still like to throw it around, but they haven’t thrown it like last year yet. This will be the best team we’ve played so far.”
Texarkana is coming off its first loss of the season - a 26-13 loss to Shreveport Evangel, one of the top teams in Louisiana. The week before, the Tigers tied Arkansas High, which won the state championship last year.
Offensively, Texarkana relies on quarterback Nathan Sorenson and running back Adrian Battle.
Battle has rushed for 203 yards this season with an average of 7.8 yards per carry. Sorenson, despite throwing for just 74 yards last week, has thrown for 336 yards and one touchdown. The pair has accounted for six of the Tigers’ nine touchdowns this season.
“They have a good tailback who is a great athlete,” Ream said. “They’ll put pressure on our defense with their alignments. They are good at getting in formations and matchups that work in their favor.”
Waxahachie will counter the Tigers’ offense with a defense that has allowed just 30 points in the last 10 quarters. The Indians shutout University last week and have allowed less than 300 total yards the last two weeks.
“Since halftime of the Highland Park game we’ve played pretty well defensively,” Ream said. “They even stopped University when they had a couple drives start on our end of the field. It’s not like they were having to go 80 yards each time.”
Texarkana’s defense relies heavily on its speed. During last week’s loss, the Tigers had four players with at least eight tackles.
Defensive tackle Mo Ellis, who had eight tackles and two for a loss in his first start for the Tigers.
“They bring a lot of pressure and a lot of speed,” Ream said. “We had some success last year with some screens, but we’ll also try to slow them down with counters and traps. We know we aren’t going to out run them.
One of the strengths of our offensive line is how quickly we get off the ball and get after someone. Our offensive line will be a key for us to have success.”
Waxahachie’s offense found its way last week after a couple weeks of feeling things out. The Indians scored 23 points — more than in they had in either of their first two games - in the first half against University.
Quarterback Boomer Collins threw three touchdowns and accounted for 170 of the team’s 236 passing yards. Sophomore wide receiver Sam Gagliano caught three passes for 107 yards and was one of nine receivers to catch a pass.
“We’ve been working on throwing the ball more and we had some success with it last week,” Ream said. “I’d rather had more balance so we can control the clock, but we did a good job spreading the ball to different receivers running different routes in different coverages.”
Obviously Ream is looking to Friday with hopes of winning, but that isn’t the Indians’ primary focus this week.
“The biggest thing for us this week is to keep our momentum going,” he said. “You always want to start district confident and playing your best ball. By the fifth game of the season, we should be.”
E-mail Tommy at firstname.lastname@example.org