Hard work pays off for Tigers
GOLIAD - Davis Ohrt remembers when John Mares spoke to the players the day after he was promoted to Goliad's athletic director and head football coach in January.
Mares had been an assistant at Goliad for the 2010 and 2011 seasons and during that time the Tigers had a 4-16 record.
"He said for us to win, you have to want to win more than you hate losing," recalled Ohrt, a senior who plays tight end and on the defensive line. "I think we really want to win. There are a lot of people out here who are going to do what it takes to win. A lot of people talk about they don't like to lose. You've got to do the stuff that people that are losing aren't doing."
The hard work Ohrt and his teammates have done has paid off in the form of a 3-1 record as Goliad begins District 15-2A, Division I play against Jourdanton on Friday at Tiger Stadium.
The Tigers will take a winning record into district play for the first time since 2004 when they qualified for the Class 3A, Division II playoffs.
"When you add wins you see people's confidence level go up," said senior Jeremy Pena, who plays running back and linebacker. "That comes out in the new offense and defense. It's been a good change. Everyone's more positive about things."
The Tigers began working on the new offense and defense during athletic period last spring and continued the orientation during two-a-days.
"We've progressed with every ballgame," Mares said. "The fundamentals have gotten better. We've still got a lot of things to work on, but I've been very pleased with the kids' attitudes."
The players' outlook took a turn for the better when the University Interscholastic League's realignment and reclassification was announced in February and Goliad dropped from Class 3A to Class 2A, Division I.
"I think we're learning how to win," Pena said. "As a group we've never been the type to go out and beat people. We're learning how to cope with it and trying not to boast about it. We don't want to get ahead of ourselves. We've still have a hard district."
Goliad began the season with wins over St. Joseph and Yorktown before losing to Edna. The Tigers bounced back last week to beat Mathis, a team which had beaten them 54-32 last season.
"I think we learned more from our loss than anything," said Ohrt of the 42-28 setback against Edna. "Edna has a pretty good team. The first half we came out and played horrible. The second half a lot of people thought we were going to let them run the score up on us and we came out and fought back and gave ourselves a chance to win."
The experience helped in Goliad's 21-14 win over Mathis. The Tigers scored the winning touchdown in the fourth quarter.
"Our offense is a run-oriented type offense," Mares said. "But Dalton (Sturm) can get in there and chunk with the best of them and that's what helped us in the Mathis game. They stuffed us pretty good and we kind of spread out and got after it."
Mares is pleased with Goliad's start. But he knows the Tigers have more work to do to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
"You've got to learn how to do that," he said. "After our first victory, you could already see the kids saying well we won. They didn't know what the next step was. That's part of it. When you're not used to winning and you start winning, you've got to learn how to win.
"The kids accepted it well and went back to work the next week, and that's what you've got to do is go back to work the next week."
Playing for keeps
District play also begins this week in 30-4A, 23-4A, 25-3A, 13-2A, Division II, 14-2A, Division II, 15-2A, Division II, 16-2A, Division II and TAPPS Division II, District 3.
Calhoun, El Campo, Hallettsville, Palacios, East Bernard, Refugio, Woodsboro and Runge remain unbeaten heading into Week 4.
Calhoun faces the biggest challenge this week. Calhoun comes off a bye week and opens District 30-4A play against Calallen at Sandcrab Stadium in Port Lavaca.
Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.