Team unity a factor in win against Gonzales
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Fredericksburg High School football players not only stepped up during last Friday’s 46-6 homecoming victory over Gonzales, but they also stepped in, through and around a young Apache team.
There was no one standout performance, in a game filled with exceptional plays.
“I couldn’t be prouder of our kids for the way they stepped up,” Head Coach Lance Moffett told the Standard-Radio Post after the game. “We knew we were gonna face some adversity tonight.”
Despite having three players sidelined, which included two starters and a role player — Gavin French, Matthew Smith and Max Hardman, then losing another starter, Javier Rodriguez, to an injury in the first quarter, it took the Billies’ only half a quarter to adjust and play like a team that had all their ducks in a row.
“In a normal year, if you’d asked me how we’re going to play a varsity football game, with three starters out, I’m going to tell you we’re gonna lose. When you’re missing people, you have an uneasy feeling and I didn’t have that in this game,” Moffett said.
It helps to have Cole Immel on the field.
After leading the Billies on a 9-play, 37-yard drive, Immel capped it off with a 29-yard run into the end zone for the first touchdown of the night. Manuel Noriega’s extra point kick was good and FHS was up 7-0 in the first quarter.
However, the Billies lost their momentum when running back Rodriguez was injured four minutes before the end of the first quarter, after which things got wonky.
“It was a Keystone Cops kind of moment when we’re trying to figure out who was going to go where,” Moffett said after the game. “Thank God, Rob Zuberbueler, the human Swiss Army Knife, is on our team, because he can play anywhere you put him.”
Dennis Tripp, Mason Reeh and Kade Jenschke switched in and out on offense. In the second quarter, the Billies drew a false start penalty on offense two minutes in, and Gonzales’ Victor Izaguierre followed that up with an interception of an Immel pass intended for Reeh.
On Gonzales’ first play after the interception, James Sebera’s tackle knocked running back Dillen Ramos’ helmet right off and he was finished for the game.
Gonzales Head Coach Mike Waldie said the three Gonzales players who were hurt during the game did not sustain any significant injuries.
Immel helped to settle things down with a 14-play drive that took four and a half minutes off the clock and culminated in a one-yard keeper for the second score of the game. Noriega’s PAT was wide to the right and the score was 13-0.
“When you pull the ball and there’s a big ole hole right there, it’s easy to run through. Those guys make me look so good,” Immel said about the offensive line. “It’s unreal whenever you’ve got five big guys up there leading the way.”
The Billies’ defensive line also had a hand in making the team look good.
After Jenschke caught a 67-yard pass from Immel with seconds left on the clock for the third Billie touchdown of the night, a mere seven seconds later the defensive line pressured Gonzales sophomore quarterback Jerren Johnson into fumbling and Sebera was there to scoop it up.
This set up an identical touchdown pass scenario to Zuberbueler, who caught a 34-yard pass from Immel, to make the score 26-0 going into the half.
Not only was Zuberbueler switched to running back but he played on special teams for the Billies.
“I’ve been all around. They’ve been playing me everywhere,” Zuberbueler said after the game. “I’ve never run back, but luckily, I knew what I was doing most of the time. Cole’s a great leader and he helped me through it.”
The Billies’s first-team defense, which has allowed only 13 points in two weeks, according to Moffett, shut down Gonzales’ plan of mixing up their slot-T and spread offenses.
“Honestly, the game plan was to involve both, but once we had the debacle late in the half, slowing the game down and running the ball more became impossible, if we wanted to try and ‘win’ not just play them close,” Waldie said.
Sebera, who had seven tackles and two assists in the game, said he owed his success to the coaches.
“It all starts with practice. The coaches teach us a lot of things,” he said. “(Gonzales) loved going down the middle, so we all just had to squeeze down. We had to be mentally prepared and mentally focused.”
Not only did Fredericksburg get their momentum back, but they seemed to hit their stride in the third quarter, scoring twice. The first was on a 24-yard run by Zuberbueler with three minutes remaining, and the second was on a Judson Beard 47-yard pass from Immel with one minute left to make the score 39-0.
In the fourth quarter, FHS coaches started putting in reserves and switching things up in the lineup, with Jenschke at quarterback and different players in the backfield and on defense.
Gonzales scored on a nine-yard run by sophomore Derrick Garza and the two-point conversion failed to make the score 39-6.
Austin Simpson got the final score of the game on a 25-yard run and Noriega’s PAT made the final score 46-6.
Billies Notes: FHS coaches named varsity players of the week – Immel and Derrick Whitworth on offense; Sebera and Logan Metzger on defense and Zuberbueler at utility. Turnover title belt winners were Sebera and Angel Neri. Layton Beyer was named junior varsity player of the week and Reed Spies received the freshman honors.