Odessa High’s Tomas Gonzales found out the hard way that going half-speed during practice is not the preferred method for the Bronchos.
The junior running back, three days after his varsity debut against Amarillo High, was running a play into the middle of the line during a Labor Day practice and didn’t go full speed.
His teammate on the defensive side did, however, and the collision sent Gonzales to the sideline with a concussion that lingered long enough for him to miss games against Lubbock Monterey and Permian.
“I wasn’t expecting to get popped,” Gonzales said with a smile. “Moving up from the JV to the varsity, I saw how they hit people and I didn’t run the play at full speed.
“I was like tiptoeing in to the hole and bam, concussion. But it taught me a big lesson, of going full speed all the time.”
Gonzales seemed to take the lesson to heart, and last week against San Angelo Central when he was inserted into the lineup in place of C.J. Eddison to start the second half, Gonzales quickly made his presence felt.
Carrying the ball 15 times, he rushed for 126 yards and one touchdown in the Bobcats’ 49-7 victory at Ratliff Stadium.
“We needed to change things up at the time,” OHS head coach Ron King said of the halftime switch. “Tomas ran hard, which is what we needed.”
The Bronchos (0-4 overall, 0-2 in District 2-5A) travel for a game at 7:30 tonight against Abilene Cooper (3-1, 1-1) at Shotwell Stadium.
The Cougars are coming off a 55-20 victory against Lubbock Coronado, and Gonzales knows that the Bronchos have their work cut out on the road.
But he feels that he, Eddison and the rest of their teammates have a chance to come out of the Key City with a victory.
“We just have to do what our coaches have been telling us and control the football,” Gonzales said. “We know that Abilene Cooper is a good team, but we have the ability to make plays, too.
“It’s going to be a tough game, on the road, but I’m excited about going to play.”
Another person excited about the addition of Gonzales in the backfield is quarterback Dayton Dennard.
The sophomore signal caller will be making his second varsity start tonight and knows that having the added luxury of another strong runner will hopefully keep the Cougars’ defense honest.
Dennard also likes the way Gonzales added some spark to the Bronchos’ effort against San Angelo Central.
“Tomas came in and he really ran hard,” Dennard said. “He was quick and he kept his feet moving and was tough to tackle.
“He and C.J. make a good combination back there and it’s my job to make sure they get the ball the right way in order to get the most out of every play.”