Is San Angelo Central's Season Finished?

CANYON, TX — Friday night, September 17, the San Angelo Central Bobcats suffered their second straight loss in a row, ending the 2021 pre-district games with a record of 2-2. The final score was not pretty either. At 46-28, one could say that this loss to Amarillo Tascosa was as bad as the loss to last week’s Austin Vandegrift.

Much of the problem is how poorly the Bobcats have performed during the first half of play. How the Bobcats responded in the 3rd and 4th quarters to both lopsided first half quarters offers some hope and it is not time to hit the panic button. This team has room to grow for sure, but as a whole, the Central Bobcats (2-2) are entering district play as an overall better team than the team that started the season.

That being said, defensively, the Bobcats were an absolute mess. Poor tackling and a lack of discipline in the run game led to a 400+ yard performance on the ground by the Tascosa Rebels. The ‘Cats had the Tascosa offense stopped multiple times throughout the game only to miss a tackle. As a result, what should have been 2-4 yard gains became 15-20 yard gains. The Bobcats managed only one stop the entire evening and never managed to force Tascosa to punt the ball. Head Coach Kevin Crane praised the Rebels’ athleticism.

“That’s a really football team over there; they have a lot of size and a lot of speed. They are a top 5 ranked team for a reason,” Crane said.

The Rebels executed the triple option to near perfection Friday night, and the coaching staff of Tascosa deserves all the credit. Despite all of this, Central performed much better in the second half than they did in the first. While the defense only managed one stop in the second half, they certainly stopped getting run over. The Bobcats have to stop allowing big plays to be the majority of their opponents’ points moving forward. This team is better at stopping the run game than it showed last night and can perform better next week.

Offensively, the Bobcats performed at a much higher level than they did the previous week against the Vandegrift Vipers. Although much of the first half resulted in frustration, the second half produced 21 points, with seven points coming off of turnovers. In the first half, however, the inability to move the ball on their opponent’s side of the field allowed the game’s score to get out of hand. A failed 4th down conversion on the Rebel 35-yard line and a fumble near mid-field essentially decided the game for the Bobcats.

Things finally came together in the second half. Not only did the Bobcats only have to punt the ball away one time, but Tascosa had difficulty slowing Central down.

“We regrouped and played better than in the first half. That wasn’t us...I’m proud of the way we responded in the second half,” Crane said.

Had San Angelo played that way the entire game, the Bobcats could have won this game.

Despite the lopsided loss, Tyler Hill continues to progress as a passer. In the first couple of games this season, Hill looked uncomfortable in the pocket. He seemed hesitant to go through his reads and deliver the ball. Instead, he was always quick to run when his initial read was not there. Against Tascosa, however, Hill passed the ball with the most confidence we have witnessed this season. He almost broke 300 yards and had a touchdown pass. It should have been two touchdown passes, but a bad call from the line judges took a Central touchdown off the board.

On the ground, running backs Navarrette and Floyd continue to be a dangerous duo in the backfield. I would like to see Floyd get even more carries than now because that man is dangerous with the ball. Friday night, his bruising runs reminded me of some of the runs Jerome Bettis had back in his Pittsburgh days. I expect these running backs to be the heart and soul of this Central team. Moving forward, the Bobcats need to lean on their running backs.

District play opens this week, Sept. 24, at San Angelo Stadium, at 7 pm, against the Frenship Tigers. The Bobcats have a chance to do some good things against the other district teams this season but need to grow and grow fast. Practice will not be enough to beat teams like Odessa Permian and Midland Legacy. Most importantly, Central needs to improve its first half performance to be the powerhouse ball club it has the potential to become.

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