No one outside of Calhoun’s locker room expected the Sandcrabs to still be in the playoffs during Thanksgiving week.
Yet, the Sandcrabs spent this week braving the chilly late November weather as they prepared for their Class 4A, Division l regional semifinal game against Boerne at Jourdanton Indian Stadium on Friday at 6 p.m.
“We’re excited. The kids getting to practice during Thanksgiving is always a great honor,” said Calhoun head coach Richard Whitaker. “The kids are excited about the opportunity coming up on Friday.”
Calhoun’s journey to the regional semifinal has been one filled with adversity.
After starting the season 0-7, the Sandcrabs (5-7) have won five straight, including their area round game against Canyon Lake last week to advance to the regional semifinals.
Just over a month ago the Sandcrabs were 0-7. Now, after a win over Canyon Lake in its area playoff game, Calhoun is moving on to the regional semifinals for the first time since 2018.
“This was a crazy year for us,” Whitaker said. “People don’t know the things that we went through early in the season. They have no clue. We got through all of that, and we started playing good football at the right time, and right now we feel like we’re playing house money.”
“We’ve been thriving,” said junior linebacker Edgar Munoz, who ended last week’s game with 17 tackles. “With the 0-7 start we didn’t have that much confidence, but after winning these last five games, we’re starting to build up confidence knowing we can stop any team that we go against.”
However Boerne (12-0) isn’t just any other team that the Sandcrabs have faced.
The Greyhounds, which is coming off of a 50-21 victory over Pleasanton in the area round, have put up an average of 44.1 points per game this season.
Their offense poses a threat in the passing attack, led by sophomore quarterback Jaxon Baize, who has thrown for over 2,700 yards and 43 touchdowns.
However, their running game is just as dangerous, as they’ve rushed for 1,860 yards over their 12 games.
“You don’t completely stop somebody like this because they’re so good at running and throwing,’’ Whitaker said. “But, you have to take something away and you have to try to slow them down and get some stops.”
To do this Whitaker knows his offense has to try to control the time of possession on Friday.
“There’s no secret for us, you gotta make first downs,” he said. “You have to keep their offense on the sidelines. The best defense we can play is having long sustained drives. If we can do that and shorten this football game and keep their offense on the sideline as much as possible then we got a chance.”
The Sandcrabs are hoping to have another big day from their ground game after last week’s 334 yard performance.
Senior running back Tony Hensley ended last week’s game against Canyon Lake with all four of the Sandcrabs’ touchdowns and 223 rushing yards.
“It was a great game last week with our blocking and our running,” Hensley said. “I feel like this week we’re gonna come with a little bit more heat and we’re going to show everyone how Calhoun’s running game is.”
Hensley and the Sandcrabs faced this Boerne team in the 2020 area round, but ultimately fell 27-24.
“Two years ago was a big upset with us losing to Boerne, so this year we’re hoping to play a lot better than we did last time,” he said.