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Flyers work to get healthy as Schulenburg looms

By Taylor Mitchell
Sept. 7, 2012 at 4:07 a.m.

St. Joseph's Eric Alvarez runs the ball a past a Goliad's Chris Gutierrez during last Friday's game. Alvarez is expected to play Friday against Schulenburg, but several other starters will sit out as the Flyers heal up for district play.

SCHULENBURG AT ST. JOSEPH

7:30 p.m. start, Friday at Patti Welder Stadium

Winning is important to every coach, but winning district is more important because of the playoff implications.

St. Joseph head coach Kevin Auten wants to make sure his Flyers are at 100 percent heading into district play Sept. 28 against Austin St. Dominic Salvo.

If that means sitting out his starting running back Cameron Zafereo and two starting offensive linemen, Robby Medrano and Michael Low against Schulenburg this Friday night, so be it.

"We're better off in the long run to make sure they're healed," Auten explained Thursday evening. "We don't want to risk them dealing with nagging injuries and just make sure they're healthy for district."

Zafereo rushed for 67 yards last week against Goliad, while Medrano and Low both missed a majority of the 34-10 loss. Luckily, the Flyers do have leading rusher Eric Alvarez (87 yards) and senior Marcus Rendon, who missed last week's opener with an illness. Junior Barclay Proctor will fill in for Zafereo, as well, at linebacker and running back.

"They moved the ball extremely well last week," Schulenburg head coach Tommy Bludau said. "They have four or five backs who can really run the ball in that stack-I formation. Their quarterback is a good athlete, too. They just have a lot of weapons that can run the ball."

Against Goliad last week, the Flyers managed to find the end zone just once, despite recovering two onside kicks, including the opening kick off. If St. Joseph is to upset Schulenburg, they'll need to capitalize on every chance they get to put points on the scoreboard.

"We've got to control the ball, execute and move the ball continuously," Auten said. "We have to sustain drives. When we get into scoring position we have to punch it in. We have to be able to score, whether it's seven or three points."

That may be easier said than done against a Schulenburg team that gave up just one touchdown a week ago against College Station. Despite the success of the final score, Bludau says his team needs to tackle better.

"We had a good opening game," Bludau said. "We have to improve on offense and tackle better, though."

The Shorthorns dominated their opening game, posting 424 total yards (226 passing, 198 rushing) while giving up just 268 total yards, only 109 of which came on the ground.

"They reloaded and are good again," Auten said about Schulenburg. "(Tommy Bludau) has done a great job. They have a great winning tradition. Their kids are go getters. They come after you every play."

One player that will be coming at St. Joseph on Friday night is Ross Bludau, who completed 10 of 13 passes for 226 yards and two scores to go along with his 60 rushing yards and one touchdown. But he's not the only one the Flyers will be keeping an eye on.

"Both of their running backs (Jyron McKenzie and Gerardo Montoya) are really good," Auten said. "Their tight end is good all around."

Lara is a major threat for Schulenburg's passing attack, catching six passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns against College Station. McKenzie and Montoya combined for 103 rushing yards a week ago.

"Our running backs had some success last year. Jyron McKenzie is an explosive back for us who rushed for 1,000 yards last year," Bludau said. "Lara has some good speed out at split end. Ross threw the ball well last week, but I think he ran the ball the best he ever has."

The Flyers' injury woes have been a major concern for Auten during practice this past week. To combat the lack of depth, conditioning has been a focal point of St. Joseph's practices.

"Our numbers are down this week. So we've run and run," Auten said. "We're making sure we stay in the game with the numbers we have."

Kick off between St. Joseph and Schulenburg is set for 7:30 p.m. at Patty Welder Stadium. It will be the first home game of 2012 for the Flyers.

"They're excited," Auten said about his players playing at home for the first time. "we want to try to do is harness and control those emotions. We don't want emotions to run wild with us there."

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