Seguin football

Seguin quarterback Jhalen Mickles (2) finds a crease in the line during the Mats blowout win over Crockett on Friday, Oct. 4 2019. Mickles returned from an injured hamstring to throw for three touchdowns and run for two more.

Three weeks ago, the Seguin Matadors were looking for the first win of the season.

Tonight, they are hoping to maintain their spot atop the District 12-5A standings (2-0, 2-3 overall) with a trip to Austin’s Burger Center to take on Austin Travis.

The Rebels (1-1, 1-4 overall) got their first win of the season, and the first in almost two years, last week against Austin Navarro, 43-0.

The Mats can’t overlook a team that they have destroyed in each of head coach Travis Bush’s three years at Seguin.

“They’re 1-1 in district with the big win over Navarro last week,” Bush said. “It’s a team that is steadily getting better.

“We’re going to have our hands full. They gave Drip (Dripping Springs) a lot of fits in the first district ball game. Drip eventually wore them out in the second half, but it was a struggle early.”

Quarterback Steven Lopez and running back Darian McFerrin carried the Rebels to a big offensive night against Navarro, scoring three touchdowns each to break the Rebels’ losing streak.

“They’ve got good skill kids,” Bush said. “They’ve got a different caliber of athlete than they’ve had in the last three years we’ve played them. It’s a different Travis team than what people know in the past. They’re going to be fired up and confident, coming off a big district win, so we better be ready in all three phases or we could be in a bind as well.”

The coach is looking for his team to keep improving, coming off two blowout district wins.

“We’re getting better,” Bush said. “It’s not about our opponent, it’s about us. How good can we be, how much better can we play, regardless of who we’re playing? Championship teams need to be playing their best football in October — that’s our goal, to be playing better every week.”

Seguin starting QB Jhalen Mickles made a victorious return to action last week after missing three games with a hamstring injury, throwing for three touchdowns, 236 yards and accounting for two more scores on the ground.

“It was a pleasant surprise, you never know when someone is coming off a stint like that for a few weeks,” Bush said. “He played extremely well, he was confident, hit the deep ball well and brought the deep threat back to the offense.”

The emergence of the receiving corps over the last couple of weeks has been impressive, with Clark Ullrich, Tristen Moreno, Dravan McNight, Trevor Waz and Jonathan Patterson all making big catches down the field.

“There’s no substitute for reps, and you can see those guys getting better,” Bush said.

Running back Marques Washington wasn’t needed as much in the blowout wins over the last two weeks, but still has more than 700 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns on the season.

The defense, after giving up 45 points a game in the first three games of the season, has allowed just six points in the last two games.

“Hats off to those guys,” Bush said. “We made some personnel adjustments and they did a good job stopping the run. Crockett was going to find a way to run the ball and they did a decent job, but our defense kept them out of the end zone late. It’s going to be a battle again this week. They’ve got a running back that can run the football, and some good receivers. They are going to give us some stuff we haven’t seen, so we’ve got to be ready, play sound, and not give up the big play.”

Bush is proud of the way the Mats have played the last couple of weeks to be tied atop the district standings with Dripping Springs and Austin LBJ.

“We’re as good as we can be in district right now,” Bush said. “We’ve played two games and won them and that’s all that matters.

“We’ve got another opportunity this week, another chance to hopefully find a win and stay on top of the district standings.”

The Mats and Rebels kick off tonight at the Burger Center in Austin at 7:30 p.m.

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

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