From the first whistle to the last Friday, the Hays Rebels quite literally hit the ground running.
Doing so, thanks in part to a three touchdown night from running back Sam Scott, paid immense dividends as the Rebels ran roughshod over the San Marcos Rattlers in a 28-17 season opening road win.
While there are still some kinks to iron out, Rebel first year head coach Les Goad believes the win is a key step for a program looking to build confidence and momentum.
“Football is a game of momentum and we’ve got to get that thing going. These guys are seeing the confidence in what they’re doing right now, seeing the hard work is paying off,” Goad said. “The sooner you start getting in that win column, the better their mindset is to getting back to work.
Hays’ success was predicated on use of Slot-T offense, which focuses on ball control and execution. The Rebels put the scheme to work in the team’s first two drives that each encompassed more than 10 plays and were over five minutes in length. Overall, the Rebel offense dominated possession
and ate away more than 25 minutes of game time Friday.
Third-down execution played a pivotal role in the Rebels keeping drives alive and the Rattler offense off the field. Hays went 11 for 13 in third-down conversions in the contest.
Goad credited the Rebel offensive line, who are getting “better and better” and are “growing more physical up front.”
“They are all seniors and it’s their turn,” Goad said. “They understand this offense is built behind those guys and they’re getting better each week.”
On the opposite side, the Rebel defense kept San Marcos’ high-tempo offense at bay. The unit limited Rattler quarterback Alex Garcia to 103 yards on 5 of 16 passing with a touchdown.
All of those phases helped Hays build a 7-3 first quarter lead, which eventually grew to 14-10 at halftime. Hays’ defense put its foot down early in the second half by forcing a fumble that was later turned into a 13-yard touchdown run from Sam Scott, which increased Hays’ lead to 21-10. Scott finished with three total touchdowns and 104 yards rushing.
Rebel senior Jamison Eddleman said the team wanted to “wreck havoc” at the line of scrimmage, with the team plugging Rattler run lanes.
While there were mistakes to improve upon, Eddleman said the unit is on an uphill swing.
“It’s an old rivalry game and we wanted to come out and stop them and make a statement,” Eddleman said.
San Marcos, however, didn’t back down and got revenge several minutes later. A forced Rebel fumble midway through the third quarter turned into gold for San Marcos via a 68-yard touhdown run from running back Takai Madgett. The Rattlers cut the Rebel lead to 21-17 and obtained momentum.
Hays recaptured momentum for good on the very next drive. A 70-yard, 11-play drive was capped off with a three-yard touchdown from Scott, who punched in the score on a fourth down play in the fourth frame.
Rebel running back Xavier Green, who led the team with 110 yards rushing, said taking things one play at a time helped the offense overcome adverse moments in the game. Green said he enjoyed the methodical pace of Hays’ offense.
“I’m confident we can score every drive, if we do everythig right,” Green said. “It’s the mental errors that get us. I think we’re going to do big things this year. We’re underestimated.”
The focus shifts to Dripping Springs, which has beaten Hays each of the last two seasons. Goad said getting faster and stronger to match a physical Tiger team will be priority.
“We have to be the most physical team on the field,” Eddleman said. “We’ve got to be fast and conditioned. We’re looking forward to Dripping Springs.”