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Much has changed since last meeting between Calhoun-Cuero

By BY MIKE FORMAN - MFORMAN@VICAD.COM
Sept. 16, 2011 at 4:16 a.m.

The reflection of his football team bends along lines of his Raybans as coach Rick Owens faces a difficult opponent this week, The Calhoun Sandcrabs.FRANK TILLEY/FTILLEY@VICAD.COM

Former Texas coach Darrell Royal summed up the mood of Longhorns fans after a loss to Oklahoma.

"The sun came out today," he said. "We just couldn't see it."

Cuero coach Rick Owens can relate to Royal's sentiments following the Gobblers' 0-3 start.

"When it rains it pours," Owens sighed.

Owens was referring to the news that four injured Cuero starters would miss Friday night's game against Calhoun at Gobbler Stadium, and not the weather in Port Lavaca last season when the Gobblers claimed a 34-21 win over the Sandcrabs.

More than the weather has changed since Cuero turned its season around behind a 385-yard, four-touchdown performance by running back Trent Jackson.

Calhoun has been bolstered by the addition of running back/defensive back Daniel Brooks, an Oklahoma commit, and is ranked No. 7 in the state Class 4A poll after getting off to a 3-0 start.

Jackson is no longer with Cuero because of legal problems and the Gobblers are staring at their first 0-4 start since 2002.

"You've got to win around here," said Terrence Fryer, who played football at Cuero and is now an assistant coach. "You have high expectations. We're disappointed, but you've got to keep working."

Cuero can take some solace in playing three road games against teams with a combined 7-2 record, including Wimberley, ranked No. 2 in the state Class 3A poll.

But the Gobblers have scored a total of 26 points, are averaging less than 200 yards per game and have passed for a total of 109 yards.

"We did expect our offense to move the ball a little bit better than we have," Owens said. "We've been inconsistent there. We're struggling in the passing game a little bit so that's causing people to tighten down on the run even more."

Cuero's struggles have been a new experience for the players, who were in grammar school the last time the Gobblers missed the playoffs.

"It's really different," said senior linebacker Torin Dobbins. "We're doing the best we can. We're not giving up. We're finishing games the best we can."

"We don't like it, but we're doing our best through practice to keep up the hard work," added senior offensive lineman Randy Sierra. "Pretty soon the results will show up."

The Gobblers face a steep challenge against a Calhoun team that is averaging over 40 points and 446 yards per game in its option offense, including an average of over 411 yards rushing per game.

"Everybody's got to do their job," Owens said. "You can't do somebody else's job for them. You have to play very disciplined defense."

The Sandcrabs haven't forgotten last year's game, but have been mostly circumspect in their comments.

"I feel good going in," said senior fullback Brandon Griffith, who has rushed for a team-leading 303 yards. "It's going to be a hard game, but we don't take any game lightly. Any team can knock you off, so we are going to take this one like we take every other game. We are going to take it serious, and not give them anything."

Calhoun coach Richard Whitaker sees the game as another step in preparing for District 30-4A play.

"I know what their record is coming in, but that program has a lot of pride, and they are a good team," Whitaker said. "We always find things to work on. We continually work on our tackling and blocking and all the basic things that every team works on. We just continue to try and get better each week."

The Sandcrabs have three weeks to prepare for their district opener against Victoria East.

The Gobblers begin District 28-3A play next week at Pleasanton, but won't dare look ahead.

"It's definitely not the same situation as last year," Owens said. "We're going to have to control the ball and move the ball on offense and play assignment football on defense. We're going to have to have some breaks go our way."

Advocate assistant sports editor Clay Whittington contributed to this report

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