Gobblers beat Columbus in first round
BY JULIE GARCIA - JGARCIA@VICAD.COM
Nov. 16, 2013 at 5:16 a.m.
EL CAMPO - The first round of playoffs are all about mindset.
The Cuero Gobblers (7-3) obviously channeled a victorious way of thinking Friday night when they defeated the Columbus Cardinals (6-4) 42-21 at Ricebird Stadium in El Campo.
"The first one, a lot of times, is the the toughest one to win," said Cuero coach Travis Reeve. "Everybody has big hopes and aspirations, and I thought our kids came out extremely determined and played a great football game."
After a disappointing week 10 loss to LaGrange, Reeve said the team focused more on getting its heads right at practice for playoffs.
"(We knew) if we wanted to be able to advance against a good football team like Columbus, we were going to have to fight for that win," Reeve said. "The goals we set, we're going to have to go fight for them every week, and we did that tonight."
Junior tight end Colby Ebrom, who caught a 31-yard touchdown from quarterback Jared Vernor in the third quarter, said that the morning after their 42-12 loss to La Grange was when the real work started.
"(Coach Reeve) made us put everything behind us; he's a great coach and a great leader," said Ebrom, who kicked a 48-yard punt early in the game. "He got us ready, and every day at practice, he got us focused, and we came out prepared."
During the course of the game, Ebrom said Reeve told his team to remember back to last summer when they attended a boot camp.
"It's really for us to prepare physically and mentally for whatever we have during the season," Ebrom said. "That's what he referred back to during this game: those last perfect days of boot camp and how it applies here on the field."
Boot camp did more than unify the team and coaching staff.
"It's all mental; you have to be right into it when you first step in there," Ebrom said. "It's all electric, and you have to be flowing with it, or you're not going to make it through."
Positive electric current has been flowing for the younger set of Gobbler players all season.
Ebrom, Vernor, junior running backs D'Anthony Hopkins and D'Andre Gallagher and freshmen D'Mond LaFond and Tre Miles make up a young firecracker offense for the Gobblers.
Hopkins, who came into the game with 1,391 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns for the season, ran for 142 yards against the Cardinals and scored three touchdowns.
Running back Miles ran for 49 yards and caught two passes for a total of 45 yards. He also made a few hard tackles on defense against Columbus.
"Our young kids have really matured over the course of the year. They are major contributors for us," Reeve said. "They have great senior leadership, too, and with that combination, it's a good thing."
Cuero was taken out in the first round last season by Bellville. Already exceeding that point, Reeve couldn't be happier.
"I'm just proud of our kids; they've overcome adversity this year. They earned everything they've accomplished this year, and I just couldn't ask for anything more from this special group of kids," Reeve said.
Cuero faces a tough area round opponent against Navarro, which beat its first-round opponent, Sam Houston, by more than 40 points Friday.
"That's a team that's extremely well-coached," Reeve said. "They've got a good football team; we'll have to play well next week."
In preparation for next week's game, Ebrom said the team again will need to focus.
"We're going to come to practice and work every day like we always do - it'll be a normal week for us. We're not going to put too much hype into it," Ebrom said. "We're going to save our energy for the game."