CUERO – The lights were on, a chill was in the air and players were trying to catch their breath after running sprints when practice ended at Gobbler Stadium.
But running back Chance Albrecht and his Cuero teammates wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It’s a lot of fun now that it’s the playoffs,” Albrecht said.
The Gobblers (12-1) are back in the quarterfinals for the fourth consecutive year and will try to advance to the semifinals for the first time since 2015 when they face Geronimo Navarro (10-2) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at San Antonio’s Comalander Stadium.
“I’ve been extremely proud of our kids,” said Cuero coach Travis Reeve. “I think we’re playing with great confidence, great energy and our kids are having fun. That’s one of the challenges on long playoff runs is to be willing to come out and put in the work to prepare so you can play well Friday night.”
The Gobblers have accepted the challenge after losing in the quarterfinal round the last two seasons.
“A lot of it comes down to our decisions we make on the weekends,” Albrecht said. “Not being selfish about it. Coming out here on Saturday morning and running out the soreness and lifting weights and watching film. Keeping the same mindset and staying hydrated throughout the week.”
Cuero’s main focus this week is on the Panthers’ slot-T offense.
“You’ve got to win first down, but you also have to be prepared to stop them for four downs,” Reeve said. “They’re going to go for it quite a bit on fourth down. It’s extremely hard to stop somebody four times. It’s a battle of wills. You’ve got to be ready to lay it on the line for 48 minutes.”
The Gobblers did so to near perfection in their 43-7 District 14-3A, Division II win over Navarro.
“You have to focus on your assignment because their offense can be very confusing,” said linebacker Justin Ficklen. “If you’re watching in the backfield, you’re in trouble. You have to focus on what the coaches have assigned you.”
Cuero knows Navarro has made some adjustments, but the Gobblers have done the same.
“It will test our team and reveal our character,” Ficklen said. “We’ve got to respect that they’re a fourth-round team and have gone as far as we have. I’m sure they’ve gotten better over the course of the weeks, but so have we.”