Matagorda County teams ready to change course
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Sweeny at Bay City, 7:30 p.m.
Boling at Palacios, 7:30 p.m.
Stafford at Tidehaven, 7:30 p.m.
Aransas Pass at Van Vleck, 7:30 p.m.
BAY CITY - The football landscape in Matagorda County has already shifted, but the change most desired has yet to occur.
No Matagorda County team has advanced to the playoffs since Tidehaven made it to the bi-district round in 2008.
The recent struggles are a far cry from the norm in a county which three schools have won state championships, and had all four of its teams reach the state final.
"Our slogan this year is tradition reborn," said Bay City coach Dan Burk. "A baby's born. They first start out drinking from a bottle , they pull up and then they crawl and they walk and they run and then they run with a purpose. Hopefully, we'll get to a point where we're running with a purpose."
Burk and the head coaches from Palacios, Van Vleck and Tidehaven shared their thoughts on the upcoming season during a Happy Radio 92.5 FM live broadcast at the Fat Grass Restaurant.
Burk and Tidehaven coach Brent Mascheck are in their first year and have been busy trying to get their programs going.
"When you take over a new program and a program that's been down a little bit, you've got to start over from scratch," Mascheck said. "Everything we're doing is brand new to the kids. The offensive system is new, the defensive system is new. Even how we're lifting weights is new.
"The kids have really bought into the system. They really want to win and they've really bought into what we're preaching."
Mike Treybig remains at Palacios and Greg Bagby is back at Van Vleck, but both schools changed classifications.
Palacios dropped from Class 3A to Class 2A, Division I and Van Vleck dropped from Class 2A, Division I to Division II.
"We really felt the district we were in last year we were kind of fighting with one hand behind our back," Bagby said. "We were short on kids, we were short on coaches. We really like our chances this year. Numbers wise we're better."
Palacios moved into what is essentially Van Vleck's old district, which produced state finalist Hempstead.
"It's all quality football," Treybig said. "I doesn't matter if you're Division II or Division I in 2A. It's going to be just as hard for us."
Palacios advanced to the championship bracket of the 7 on 7 state tournament over the summer and Treybig has seen some carryover during preseason workouts.
"It worked out really well because it forced them into leadership roles and forced them to call their own plays and call their own defense," he said. "If they grow up and do their job, that will determine how successful we're going to be this year."
Van Vleck and Tidehaven will not only be county rivals, they'll also be district opponents.
"The atmosphere in the field house, the practice field, the weight room is the best it's been since I've been here," Bagby said. "I think part of that is winning the kids' trust. I know there's been some turnover. I think the kids really want someone to stay and we really feel like we can get it turned around."
"What we're preaching day by day is effort," Mascheck said. "We're teaching effort and we're playing hard. Go back through the history of Tidehaven when they were very good. They played great defense, ran the football very well and were great on special teams. Tidehaven was known as a strong, physical football team that played great defense and that's what we pride ourselves on."
Burk has made extensive changes in Bay City's daily routine.
"We've instituted a year-round strength and conditioning program," he said. "I think they were in a little bit of culture shock the first first couple of days with our weights and condition. We're out there lifting and flipping tires and doing other things like that."
Burk is a firm believer in building a program from the ground up.
"Our goal is to take one day at a time, one step at a time, one play at a time," he said. "We want our kids to become better athletes from the seventh grade to the eighth grade on up through the time they become seniors.
"We're not only going to work the dog out of them," he added, "We're going to love them too."