Shoring Up the Bobcats' Battered Defense is Key to Season Turnaround


SAN ANGELO, TX — Friday night the San Angelo Central Bobcats suffered defeat at the hands of a talented Frenship Tigers squad, 49-32, to open up district play. The Bobcats are now 2-3 overall, and 0-1 in district play.

Both teams’ offenses scored at will for most of the night, and the final score showed little of how close the game actually was. Offensively, the Bobcats continued to have success both on the ground and through the air but ultimately failed to produce late in the game with the game within reach. Defensively, the ‘Cats entered the game missing key players on the front seven, and it showed. They struggled to stop the run for most of the night, and poor tackling in the secondary again reared its ugly head. With the game on the line late in the 4th quarter, however, the defense managed to pull themselves together and generate two stops in a row to give their team a chance to win the game. It was too late, though.


This Central team is in the midst of a crisis on the defensive side of the ball. Friday night, they had another rough night, although several injuries in key positions, notably Bryson McNutt, made their challenges even more formidable. The Frenship Tigers had an incredibly talented offensive line and a quarterback and running back who made running the ball look easy.

“They have a couple of Division I guys on their front, a running back that is back from last year, and solid quarterback as well. Defensively I thought we got better as the game went, but that’s a hard team to match up with,” said Bobcats Head Coach Kevin Crane about Frenship.

With the game on the line, the defense did manage to force back-to-back stops against a Frenship team that otherwise had their way with the Bobcats all night. The secondary locked down the outside receivers, and the passes for big yardage just disappeared. Jacoby Yates, in particular, should be commended for his performance. His name does not come up in the stat sheet much, and that is a good thing. The receivers he is covering aren’t even looked at by the opposition QB because they are not open. He had a highly contested throw broken up in the endzone late in the game, where he had perfect coverage on a much bigger receiver than he was. Although the Bobcats defensive front struggled throughout the night to stop the run and pressure the Tiger quarterback, they eventually began to wear Frenship’s offensive line down. This resulted in two sacks late in the game that led to the stops they had.

Another apparent problem for the Bobcats is fundamental tackling. Too many times last night, the Tigers ran through the arms of an opposing Bobcat. As a result, runs that should have been stopped at the three or four yard mark turned into a nine or more yard gain. Because of the poor tackling, some these plays turned key explosive touchdowns that put the Bobcats behind on the scoreboard early.

However, I still know that this Bobcat squad is capable of playing at a high level. We have already seen it from this team this year. Killeen Shoemaker is every bit as athletic as the squads from the subsequent opponents to whom the Bobcats lost — Austin Vandegrift, Amarillo Tascosa, and Frenship — but the Bobcats stopped Killeen. This turns us to injuries. Those injuries to the defensive front hurt the Bobcats when playing athletic teams, so our hope is as the D-line gets healthier, they will play better. I have faith in this coaching staff. Time spent on getting back to the basics of tackling, filling gaps, and pursuing the football will turn it around for this season moving forward.


The ‘Cats showed spectacular plays on the offensive side of the ball. First, the run game once again proved to be the Bobcats’ greatest strength as they chewed up most of the field on each drive on the ground. Then, with over a 5 yard per carry average, the backs showed how dangerous they could be. The production keeps coming, whether it is the light-footed, quick cuts of Navarrette or the running style more akin to a wrecking ball from Floyd. Adding in the occasional run from the Bobcats’ dual-threat quarterback, Tyler Hill, and this team is dangerous. The receivers also continue to perform at a high level. Trevor Scott and Jacob English lead the way in receptions and yards, but the veteran presence of Cayden Box always allows Hill to find a safety net and a sure completion. Most surprising is the growth of Junior receiver Jaedyn Gipson. He had more than one explosive play Friday night, and his improvement is evident. He runs crisper routes, is open more, and secures more and more catches as the weeks roll by.

Central also had success much earlier in the game than in previous weeks. By putting up twenty points in the first half, they stayed competitive throughout the game instead of starting the second half with a score deficit with momentum slipping away from the team.

“I think the offense played well in the first half. We had to force the issue a bit in the second half trying to play catch up and got behind the eight ball, but offensively we are doing some good things, and we need to continue to improve,” Crane said.

Although the Bobcats have always been a spread offense passing team over the past decade or so, I believe the offense is undergoing somewhat of a strategic shift by incorporating the run more often. The Bobcats have a talented quarterback in Hill who continues to improve every week, they have talented receivers on the roster who can make big plays, and the offense still can go fast and put up a lot of points. The Bobcats’ run game is more potent this year, though. Friday night showed that a true strength of this current team is to run first, but pass when the ‘Cats catch the opposing team napping. Hill had the most success passing the ball last night out of play-action situations where he faced single coverage in the secondary. It is easy to suggest running more if we lived in a perfect world where the Bobcats are not facing both a score deficit and a winding down game clock simultaneously. When the score Friday night was slipping away from the Bobcats, abandoning the run game to an extent made sense, but longer Bobcat offensive drives showcasing their running game capability in the early stages of the next games will save the defense and make the D-line more durable when they are struggling to stop a tough opposing offense. In other words, use the run to keep the ball longer.

The San Angelo Central Bobcats (2-3) (0-1) travel to Ratliff Stadium in Odessa to face the Odessa High Bronchos (2-3) (0-1) next week, Oct. 1, at 7 p.m.

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