Fresh Mustangs prepare for district gauntlet

Posted 10/6/20

The Madisonville football team concluded their non-district slate with a 2-3 record following their 21-16 loss to Livingston at MHS Sept. 25. They will enter their district opener against Shepherd Friday with fresh legs coming off their scheduled bye from last week.

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Fresh Mustangs prepare for district gauntlet

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The Madisonville football team concluded their non-district slate with a 2-3 record following their 21-16 loss to Livingston at MHS Sept. 25. They will enter their district opener against Shepherd Friday with fresh legs coming off their scheduled bye from last week.

“It is a playoff mentality,” said head coach Russell Urbantke. “We need to be 1-0 and that is what I addressed to the team (Monday). They all count now and we do not get any re-dos, we started preaching that last week. I think the kids know the challenges ahead of us and they are ready to step up to the plate.”

The Mustangs primarily worked on honing their fundamentals during the break after a number of miscues sullied their non-district finale.

“Ball security on the offensive side of the ball,” said Urbantke when asked what the team has focused on. “We really tried to sure up the ball security and, when we are about to be tackled, the ball has got to be doubled up.

“On the defensive side of the ball, I felt like we tackled pretty well (against Livingston), but we kept working on getting off blocks and getting to the football. We always do our turnover circuit and work on takeaways.”

Madisonville football now competes in 4A District 10 (Div. 2) along with Carthage, Jasper, Center, Rusk and Shepherd after February’s realignment.

The Shepherd Pirates were 1-4 in non-district play with losses to Kirbyville (28-8), Coldspring-Oakhurst (50-8), Liberty (38-0) and Splendora (52-0) with their lone win coming over Hempstead (48-39).

The Pirates were 3-7 in 2019 (2-2 in district) and fell to Silsbee in the Bi-District round of the playoffs.

“Offensively, we are going to have to handle their pressure up front,” said Urbantke. “They like to bring six or seven guys at a time. They are a blitzing team, they like to put pressure on you, and they like to run man coverage in the secondary.”

Urbantke stated Shepherd employs pressure on first and second downs in order to get opponents into long yardage situations and out of their game plan.

The Mustangs have thrown 65 passes in 2020 opposed to 170 running plays. Quarterback Armando Juarez is 31-for-65 on the season with four touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. He has totaled 471 yards through the air in the five contests.

Juarez has also carried the ball a total of 70 times for 324 yards (4.6 yards per carry). His seven rushing touchdowns lead the team by far.

Patrick Brazzell led the Mustangs in yards per carry (7.1) through the non-district slate. He totaled 193 yards on 27 carries and found the end zone once on the ground, once through the air and again on the defensive side of the ball.

Juarez and Brazzell are followed in rushing yards by Jeramiah Burns (98), Ronnie Mosley (93), Devin Wheaton (61) and James Randle (51).

Doug’kyrn Johnson is the team’s leading receiver with eight catches for 149 yards. He is followed by Wheaton, who has 88 yards on five receptions and a pair of touchdowns through the air.

“For us on the defensive side, (Shepherd) is a run-oriented team” said Urbantke. “They have a couple of big guys up front and they come off the ball hard, get on you and stay on you. They are looking to get three or four yards every time they run the ball. They do a really good job with their play-action pass, they have a big tight end they like to release out and try to get the ball to. The secondary will have to be reading their keys and make sure they stay on them.”

Jace Snook is the clear leader on the defensive side of the ball in terms of tackling with 60 total tackles, seven of which came behind the line of scrimmage. He also recorded a sack and recovered a pair of fumbles and forced another.

Burns is second on the team with 36 tackles. The freshman has also logged three interceptions through the first half of the year.

Snook and Burns are followed in tackles by Josh Griffin (25), Brazzell (23), Cody Borgfeld (22), Jer’Tavius Brown (18) and Jermal Holland (18).

All told, Madisonville has recovered eight fumbles and intercepted five passes on the season. Mosley and Ryan Kinsey have come up with an interception each. Mosley, Brown, Brazzell, Wheaton, Kinsey and Ronaldo Willis have all recovered fumbles.

Kicker Vladimir Morales has yet to miss this season, connecting on all 14 extra point attempts and his four field goal attempts.

The district opener against Shepherd will kickoff at MHS Friday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for the contest went on sale Friday through the school website’s Hometown Ticketing link. Tickets will not be available for purchase at the front gate upon entry.

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