Mineral Wells Index
By TONY EIERDAM
They will need a big win and some unlikely help, but it is still mathematically possible for the Mineral Wells Rams to reach the Class 3A playoffs.
The Rams, 2-2 in District 6-3A, can make the playoffs by beating district unbeaten Kennedale if a one-win Castleberry team can upset 2-2 Lake Worth.
The 2-2 Rams will host 4-0 Kennedale at 7:30 p.m. today at Ram Stadium in the 6-3A finale for both teams. Lake Worth and Castleberry also tee it up today at Lake Worth.
If both the Rams and Lake Worth win, despite identical 3-2 records, Lake Worth would clinch third place and the final playoff spot by virtue of its win over the Rams on Oct. 19.
“You always want to have something to play for (in the last game of the regular season), and we certainly have something to play for,” Rams head coach Chuck Lawrence said. “We are playing for our playoff lives, and we have to beat Kennedale and hope Castleberry beats Lake Worth.”
The Rams will hope to put together four quarters on offense similar to their play offensively in the first two quarters last week against Springtown where MWHS dominated the time of possession, while leading in yards on the ground, first downs and total yardage.
The Rams could help themselves immensely if they can keep a streak alive. Senior running back Gilbert Castorena has rushed for more than 100 yards in eight consecutive games, including a 135-yard effort against Springtown last week.
“It is about the same scenario as last week,” Lawrence said. “We need to keep the ball, which means we keep the ball away from (Kennedale’s) offense. (Against Springtown last week) we were moving the chains and keeping their offense off of the field.
“Kennedale does not throw the ball very much, so the less that we can give them the ball the better off we are going to be. Also, if we can control the ball with our running game, the play-action pass will work a lot better.”
Kennedale, however, has also won four district games and seven total by controlling the ball with its “Wing T” offense, a triple-option set that takes advantage of the skills of quarterback Zachary Michener and running backs Donny Darville and Ronald Hayes. The trio combined for 251 yards rushing and five touchdowns in the Wildcats’ 52-0 win over Lake Worth last week.
“This is as good of a team as we have played all year,” Lawrence said. “They have some very fast skill players. They will run the mid line dive, trap, buck sweep (where both guards pull), wing back trap and everything that a Wing T team does.
“Off of that they will run quarterback bootlegs and play-action passes. They basically try to line up and run over you. They have big linemen and a power running game.
“And if you do cover the receivers, Michener at quarterback is a prolific scrambler and he can run with the football on designed plays. He has turned several scrambles this year into big gains.
“We have to make sure we have lane integrity on the pass rush or (Michener) will have a big game on the ground.”
Defensively, Kennedale is led by senior inside linebacker Brett Wade, who leads the team in tackles and has already committed to Texas A&M. He had a 41-yard interception return for a touchdown in the Wildcats’ 48-17 win over Springtown in the district opener.
Kennedale runs primarily a 4-2 look on defense and has switched to a 4-1 at times.
“Wade may be the best defensive football player I have ever seen,” Lawrence said. “He is a monster. We are going to have to control him to have any success.
“They play a lot of man-to-man in the secondary, and they have not been scored on in three weeks. They held Springtown to 17 points, so these boys can play defense. They have a fast defense, but then again, their entire team is fast.”
The Rams also hope to duplicate the defensive effort put forth in the first half of the Springtown game. The Porcupines scored two touchdowns in the first half, although one was on a drive of just 13 yards.
In fact, the defense was responsible for almost tying the game at 13-13 just before the half when senior defensive end Hunter Moss picked off a pass and returned it to the end zone, but a face-mask penalty was called on MWHS before the pick, which nullified the score.
“We got after (Springtown) pretty good in the first half,” Lawrence said. “But with our special teams’ miscues in the third quarter (on a kickoff and kickoff return) we let the game get out of hand.
“Overall, we executed our defensive game plan fairly well, and in the first half we were flying around and making plays, and we need to do the same against Kennedale.”
No matter if the rams get help from Castleberry or not, Lawrence wants to see his senior class win their final home game.
“It will be Senior Night,” he said. “Hopefully everyone will step up to the plate and play the type of football that a playoff contender plays.”