Gobblers bounce back after disappointing start

Oct. 3, 2011 at 5:03 a.m.

Cuero head coach       gives out instructions during a preseason practice.

Cuero head coach gives out instructions during a preseason practice.

CUERO - A.J. Bustos has played football in Cuero since seventh grade. But until this season he'd never been on a losing team.

"It's been real tough," Bustos said. "All the seniors, none of us are used to losing. We were so mad after our first four games."

Cuero lost road games against Wimberley, Liberty Hill and Bellville before being shut out by Calhoun at home and falling to 0-4 for the first time since 2002.

The Gobblers' four non-district opponents have a combined record of 18-2 and Calhoun and Wimberley are ranked in the state poll.

"It is tough with talk and stuff and having to fight through that stuff," said Cuero coach Rick Owens. "I know it wears on them a little bit and it's a testament to those guys rising up above that."

The mood of Bustos and his teammates has improved since Cuero opened District 28-3A with wins over Pleasanton and La Vernia.

The Gobblers have extended their district winning streak to 42 games and are tied with Gonzales for the district lead heading into their bye week.

"That really boosted our confidence," Bustos said. "Coach has been telling us that district is the only thing that matters. That's the only thing that determines whether we go to the playoffs or not."

Cuero has hardly been an offensive juggernaut in district play.

But after scoring a total of 26 points in their first four games, the Gobblers scored 23 points against Pleasanton and 22 against La Vernia.

"We've always used a lot of different formations to run the same plays," Owens said. "We're still doing that. The last couple of weeks we've been able to run our counter, our G's and our zones and when we've been successful we've always been able to do those things."

Cuero has had 10 running backs carry the ball and seven backs have 20 or more carries.

The Gobblers are averaging 4.2 yards per carry even though they often face nine-man fronts.

"We need to establish a passing game and get the defense to where it respects it," Bustos said, "so it won't just stack the box against us so we can just be a balanced team."

Bustos has been unable to carry the ball since suffering a hairline fracture in his left hand against Bellville.

But he moved to cornerback where he helped spell Darius Mathis, who has been out with a deep thigh bruise.

The Gobblers have also played the last two games without running back Clint Davis, who had sciatic nerve injury.

But Owens hopes Bustos and Davis will return to the backfield and center Billy Rodriguez and offensive lineman Caleb Harvey are back from injuries for the Oct. 14 Yoakum game.

"You can kind of see on their face a little confidence," Owens said. "We got to the point where we wanted to be for district. Our goals haven't changed from year to year. We're still going to go out there and prepare to win all our district games and see who we get seeded up with in the playoffs and move on from there.

"There may have been some doubts going into those first two district games, but I think they feel a little bit better now."View from the top

Refugio maintained the No. 1 spot in the state Class 2A poll following its 82-6 thrashing of previously undefeated Riviera.

Schulenburg moved from No. 3 to No. 2 following its 31-0 win over Weimar and previous No. 2 Godley's 30-28 loss to Eastland.

Refugio defeated Schulenburg 42-35 in the Class 2A, Division II quarterfinals last season.

Ganado held on to the No. 1 ranking in the Class 1A poll following its 28-7 win over Class 3A Palacios.

Calhoun had a bye and remained at No. 6 in the Class 4A poll.Around the area

Bay City quarterback Derek Brown passed for 365 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 112 and two touchdowns in a 40-37 overtime win against Brazosport, in the Blackcats' District 23-4A opener.

Calhoun, Gonzales, Refugio, Schulenburg, Ganado and Hallettsville Sacred Heart remain unbeaten.

Gonzales and Schulenburg play key district games this week.

The Apaches host No. 9 San Antonio Sam Houston in 28-3A.

The Shorthorns are at home against East Bernard in 15-2A, Division II.

Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361- 580-6588 or mforman@vicad.com, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.



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