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Playoff fate at stake for Cuero against Gonzales

By MIKE FORMAN
Nov. 3, 2011 at 6:03 a.m.
Updated Nov. 4, 2011 at 6:04 a.m.


Gonzales Apaches at Cuero Gobblers

7:30 p.m. Friday, Gobbler Stadium

Radio: KCTI, 1450 AM & KBAR, 100.9 FM

Cuero needs help. But first, the Gobblers must help themselves.

Cuero is in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2001.

To avoid such a fate, Cuero (3-6, 3-2) must defeat Gonzales (9-0, 5-0) when the teams close out District 28-3A play Friday night at Gobbler Stadium and have San Antonio Sam Houston beat Yoakum or Pleasanton defeat La Vernia.

"If we don't win," said Cuero coach Rick Owens, "it doesn't really matter what everybody else does."

The situation couldn't be more different for Gonzales. The Apaches have already clinched their first outright district championship since 2001 and are seeking to go 10-0 for the first time since 1963.

"That was a goal along with making the playoffs," said Ricky Lock, who returned to Gonzales as head coach last season after a two-year absence. "This is good for the community. It was important to come back and be respectful after the down years they had."

An off year is rare for the Gobblers, who are in danger of finishing with a losing record for the first time since 2002.

"As coaches, we question everything we do whether it turns out good or bad," Owens said. "There's all kind of scenarios we've looked at. Certainly personnel issues and decisions.

"If something didn't work, a play or defensive scheme we're going to question that. I don't know why things have happened the way they have. I think our kids have done a good job of responding and staying resilient despite some of the situations they've been in. It's certainly nothing we expected and it's unchartered waters we've been in."

Cuero is unlikely to get any sympathy from Gonzales. The Apaches haven't beaten the Gobblers since 2002 when the teams were district tri-champions with Yoakum.

"We already know we're in," Lock said. "But our fans don't see it through my eyes. This is kind of a passion play for them. They don't like Cuero. This is a big rivalry and we're going to play. We want to show them we can win on their grass."

Gonzales has won by running the ball and playing solid defense.

The Apaches have rushed for a district-leading 2,720 yards and have limited opponents to an average of 148.9 yards per game with a turnover margin of plus-11, thanks mostly to 15 interceptions.

"We're just kind of a blue-collar team that works hard, plays good defense and runs the football," Lock said. "We want to be known as a team that does things right."

The Gobblers do not want to be known as the team that ended a nine-year playoff run.

"It means a lot to us," Owens said. "We put ourselves in this situation and all we can take care of is the part we can control."

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