For the first time in more than a decade, the Hays Rebels are striving for possible perfection.
By virtue of a dominant 55-7 win over the rival Lehman Lobos Friday, Hays (7-0, 5-0) kept its unblemished record intact and continues the program’s best start to a season since the 2005 campaign.
But with key tests against state-ranked Westlake and Lake Travis in back-to-back weeks, Rebel head coach Les Goad believes adhering to their “one game at a time” mantra is vital.
Even so, for seniors such as quarterback Xavier Martinez, the ride is indicative of the change they hope can continue within the program.
“We want more and we know it (going 7-0) hasn’t happened in a long time,” Martinez said. “We want to change the culture and we’re happy in the way it’s going.”
Martinez, who finished with five total touchdowns Friday, played a pivotal role in the Rebels’ 13th straight win over the Lobos. Hays sped out of the gates to take a 21-0 lead before the Lobos battled back.
Martinez said capturing momentum early from Lehman was important; he also credited his offensive line for creating open lanes for Rebel runners.
Keeping defenses off-balance with multiple running threats, as well as a burgeoning pass game, also aided the effort, Goad said.
On the opposite end, Lehman head coach Bruce Salmon lauded the play of his defense, which forced a fumble and a turnover on downs in the first half. However, breakdowns on a few plays, along with a few missed assignments, hurt the Lobos and allowed the Rebels’ Slot-T attack to gain success.
“It’s a tough deal when you play against that, but you have to do your job over and over,” Salmon said. “Eighty-five percent of the time we did that. The other 15 percent of the time, we have to make sure we don’t have any mental breakdowns.”
Lehman notched its only score of the game on a three-yard touchdown from running back Keyshaun WIlliams, which capped off a five-play, 70-yard scoring drive. Lehman cut the Rebel lead to 21-7 early in the second frame.
But problems with consistency hindered the Lobo offense for most of the contest. Lehman twice was able to move the football inside of the Rebels’ red zone, but only capitalized once.
Struggles in pass protection, as well as winning one-on-one battles, are part of what’s needed to be successful at the 6A level, Salmon said.
“We have to get that stuff shored up and not take some sacks and have negative plays behind the chains,” Salmon said.
Those struggles gave Hays’ offense, which amassed 539 total yards in the contest, enough momentum to break away. The Rebels scored 34 unanswered points to close the game.
Running back Sam Scott led the way with 137 rushing yards and a touchdown, while running back Quaysean Cropper had 115 yards and a score. The Rebels rushed for 437 yards on 58 carries.
Goad said scoring the team’s 7th straight win provides a boost of confidence and a sense of accomplishment. But they also recognize the gravity of their next two contest, which will be against two of the elite programs in the state.
“But the truth of the matter is football is a long road and your focus is on the next one,” Goad said. “We’ve won three of our games by the skin of our teeth, which is a testament of the character they’re playing with.”
Hays travels to play at Westlake Friday at 7:30. They return home to play Lake Travis Nov. 2.
Lehman hosts Anderson Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Shelton Stadium for Homecoming. The Lobos play Bowie Nov. 1 at Burger Stadium in Austin.