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Goliad heads to Palacios looking to continue winning ways

By bY CLAY WHITTINGTON - CWHITTINGTON@VICAD.COM
Sept. 22, 2011 at 4:22 a.m.
Updated Sept. 23, 2011 at 4:23 a.m.

Goliad head football coach Mark Cunningham talks with his offense between plays Wednesday afternoon.FRANK TILLEY/FTILLEY@VICAD.COM

Nothing has gone according to plan for Goliad this season.

Until now.

After losing their first three games and three senior playmakers to injury, the Tigers were in an emotional tailspin.

Riding a nine-game losing streak extending back to 2010, Goliad entered last week's game at Bishop looking for a spark.

Although the Tigers' offense was producing, the defense was struggling, allowing the opening trio of opponents to average over 40 points.

It was clear, the cycle had to stop before Goliad's hopes for longterm success could begin.

With one day literally seperating the Tigers from an entire calendar year without a victory, they put together a complete game, recording a 28-0 win to boost the confidence of players on both sides of the ball.

Finally, following a series of pitfalls and shortcomings, the Tigers had something to growl about.

"It feels great to see the kids happy," Goliad head coach Mark Cunningham said. "They feel like they have (accomplished) something.

"We are hoping to get another one before our off week, so we can build a little momentum going into district."

Only history and Palacios seperate the coach from his desire.

The Sharks (2-2) host Goliad (1-3) on Friday at 7:30 p.m. having won the last two contests between the teams, including last year's game that triggered the Tigers' recently-halted nine-game losing streak.

The last time Goliad collected consecutive victories was in 2008, when the Tigers strung together three wins against Odem, Palacios and Gonzales en route to their lone playoff appearance in the last five years.

Despite Goliad's recent misfortunes and even with Class 1A No. 1 Ganado looming around the corner, Palacios coach Mike Treybig is not looking past the Tigers.

"Believe me, we are giving Goliad all the respect in the world," Treybig said. "It was a nail-biter last year, and I don't expect this year to be any different."

A season ago, the Sharks escaped Goliad with a 25-18 win, but it would be their last of the year.

This season, Palacios is just shy of perfection in the record book, suffering a 7-point loss at Boling in the season opener and a 4-point loss versus Hallettsville last week.

"Palacios is big, strong, they are going to try to eat the clock, and they are well-coached," Cunningham said. "It is going to be a knock-down, drag-out fight.

"Hopefully, our defense can hold up to their physical game."

The Sharks field two of District 29-3A's top four rushers in sophomore fullback Seth Garcia and junior Anthony Garcia, who have combined for 665 yards and six touchdowns.

Averaging just less than 314 yards per game, Palacios accounts for 223 per game on the ground, while quarterback Anthony Garcia and prime targets Dylan Brune and Zach Garcia combine for a majority of the rest.

With senior two-way players Kelby Duque (TE/DB), Ryan Berger (WR/DB) and Juan Trevino (WR/DB) all either on the injured list for the remainder of the season or out indefinitely, the Tigers will have their hands full attempting to contain the Sharks.

"With all these injuries, we've had to redo our defense," Cunningham said. "We started out with a 4-3, and, now, we've started changing to a 3-4.

"We've had to revamp the defense and revamp some positions."

The voids are being filled by young and inexperienced players, who are still attempting to find their way on the varsity roster.

"They are growing up real fast," Cunningham said. "(Varsity-level competition) is a whole different game for them both physically and mentally."

While the growing pains have somewhat stunted the defense's maturation, the offense hardly missed a beat.

Orchestrated by sophomore quarterback Dalton Sturm, Goliad scored at least 19 points in each of its games, maxing out at 42 in a season-opening road loss to San Antonio Cole.

Junior running back Jeremy Pena boasts a 4.5 yard-per-carry average and junior receiver Davis Ohrt has 117 yards on 7 receptions as the replacement for Duque.

"We have to limit the number of big plays Goliad gets on offense," Treybig said. "We can't turn the ball over, and we have to capitalize on every offensive possession we have."

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