Matadors vs Unicorns

Matador wide receiver Dravan McKnight reaches for a pass during the 107th edition of the Guadalupe River Bowl on Friday, Sept. 6, 2019 at Matador Stadium.

Last year at this time, the Seguin Matadors were in the same boat.

Coming off two opening-season losses to Antonian and New Braunfels.

Then the Matadors went on an historic run, winning seven straight games and making the playoffs for the first time in 12 years.

Friday they will hope to start another such streak, when Central Catholic comes to Matador Stadium for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.

Head coach Travis Bush reminded his young group of that run last Friday night after the loss to New Braunfels.

“We’re in familiar territory,” Bush said. “Last season we started here, we played some good people, but at some point we put our foot down and won a game, then rolled off seven in a row.

“We just talked about the big picture of being here before and knowing that we can repeat what happened last year, we’ve just got  to get into a rhythm.”

Bush saw a lot of positives in the week two loss to New Braunfels.

“The guys played hard,” he said. “We got some turnovers and points by scoring on defense. It was something our defense is buying into this season, getting those takeaways.”

“We had some young guys step up, with Clark Ullrich and Marques Washington, and Micah (Rodriguez) made some plays at quarterback. They’re still growing up and getting some reps and that’s what young guys need, to get reps in ballgames — that’s how you get better.”

Central Catholic comes into the game 1-1, beating San Antonio Christian in week one, but falling in a tight “Holy Bowl” last week to Holy Cross, 23-17.

“They’re a good, solid football team, but we feel like we can match up a little better in certain areas,” Bush said. “They’re going to be big and physical, similar to what we saw the last couple of weeks.

“They’ve got a good quarterback in Christian Allen. He’s going to be running around back there similar to Antonian’s quarterback, so we’ve got our hands full on defense again.”

Offensively, the coach emphasized ball control and making plays with good execution.

Running back Marques Washington will try to add to his 293 yards  (7.7 avg.) rushing in the first two games.

“They are going to stack the box and try to stop the run,” Bush said. “We’ll have to run it effectively, and the big key is execution and protecting the football.

“We can’t turn the ball over, or give them free plays like we did these first two weeks.”

Bush is familiar with the coach at Central Catholic, Mike Santiago, who coached at Stephen F. Austin and Incarnate Word when Bush was at UTSA.

“He’s a friend and a great coach,” Bush said. “He’ll have his guys ready to roll and will have a good game plan on offense and defense.”

Quarterback Jhalen Mickles will be a game time decision off a hamstring injury in week one. Mickles practiced this week at full speed, the coach said.

“We don’t know yet,” Bush said. “Jhalen is practicing this week, both look healthy, but we’ll make the decision at game time.”

“If he’s 100 percent, we’ll roll with him. If he’s not then we’ll go with Micah.”

The coach has no change in the game plan for the defense. 

“We’ve got to be able to stop the run and get pressure on the quarterback,” Bush said. “When you bring pressure, it’s going to open up some things on the back end, so if you don’t hit home, a good QB like we saw last week is going to extend the play and find some holes in the zone.”

The Matadors look for the first win of 2019 at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Matador Stadium.

Kevin Duke is the sports editor of the Seguin Gazette. You can e-mail him at .

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