• December 13, 2019

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Greenwood set for next challenge - Odessa American: Sports

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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Greenwood set for next challenge

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Posted: Thursday, November 28, 2019 8:22 pm

Greenwood may have yet to lose a game this season but head coach Rusty Purser and his players know that the farther they advance in the playoffs, the more challenging everything will get.

That includes this week’s regional semifinal round against another undefeated team in Lubbock Estacado.

The Rangers (12-0) will face the Matadors at 7 tonight at Wildcat Stadium in Abilene.

“The rounds are going to get tougher and tougher,” Purser said. “Estacado is a very, very good football team. We have two 12-0 teams that matchup really well.

“It’s a battle for West Texas in all honesty. You have a Lubbock school and a Midland school and both of them have been playing very well. Estacado is a very talented group. They’ve done everything they can to win games. There are a lot of things that stands out about them.”

 Coached by Joe Cluley, the Matadors come out of District 2-4A Division, going undefeated to win the five-team district title.

Estacado started its playoff run with a 53-20 win over Sweetwater before defeating Graham in the area round last week, 40-21.

“I think on offense, they have a lot of different dynamics,” Purser said. “They have a lot of players that are really talented. They have a talented running back who can take it all the way.

“They also have the ability to throw the ball to a couple of receivers who are very good. You have to show down their run game but they can also spread the ball. They have some speedy receivers. Those are just some of the factors.”

It’s a versatile offense that the Rangers haven’t seen much of this season from other teams.

“To be honest, as far as their ability to do both things like throw the ball and run it, we haven’t faced anyone with that ability,” Purser said. “We have some good run teams that we faced last week which was really good. This group has got the ability to do both.

“Throughout district, we’ve faced some teams that can run and throw the ball as well as the  nondistrict game against Herford. You kind of get a comparison between both schools but as far as a group that we’ve seen, that would be the only one.

Greenwood is coming off a 36-16 win against Aubrey from the area round last week, a game that Purser thought caused problems for the Rangers.

“Coming off that game, we got a little frustrated,” Purser said. “I really think we got out of our comfort zone. We didn’t play great football.

“We had to make some adjustments at the half and played better in the second half. I was proud of our abilities in the second half and playing like we were capable of playing instead of letting that frustration carry over. We came out and played a different ball game.”

Junior running back Trey Cross, who has rushed for 2,365 yards on 198 carries and has scored 27 rushing touchdowns, feels like everything is going his team’s way.

“We just want to go out and play hard,” Cross said. “We have to make sure everything is clicking. We can’t panic when things go wrong. Hopefully everything goes our way.”

The Rangers have been in this round recently. Last year, Greenwood’s season came to an end with a 35-14 loss to Iowa Park.

Cross and his teammates are determined to not let that happen again and added that they feel more familiar playing this far in the playoffs.

“Last year, knowing that this was as far as we went, we know it’s going to be the same atmosphere as we last year,” Cross said. “We just need to go and play hard so that it’s not our last game.

“We need to have the right mindset and play harder and to not make mental mistakes.”

Quarterback Weston Wilber has helped carry the Rangers’ offense, completing 96 of 178 passes for 2,066 yards and 34 touchdowns.

“We have a pretty big game coming up,” Wilber said. “We we’re going up against an undefeated team and we feel that we got a good week of practice. We’re getting ready to get going.”

Despite the challenge against Estacado this week, Wilber said the confidence levels are high.

“We’re all very confident,” Wilber said. “We’re coming off a tough game against Aubrey last week. We want to do well. Trey’s coming off a good performance. We’re all going in very confident.”

For wide receiver Brody Ray, going undefeated has helped the Rangers’ self-esteem.

Ray leads the team in reception yards with 42 catches for 900 yards and 17 touchdowns.

 “We feel like nobody can beat us and it really builds up our confidence and it feels really good,” Ray said.

 “I’m kind of nervous because I don’t want us to lose in the same game like last year but we’re better this year so we’re feeling confident,” Ray said.

For any team that wants to win a state championship, playing during the Thanksgiving holiday is to be expected. Purser and his players are relishing the opportunity to again practice for a playoff game during the holiday week.

“Number one, everyone loves to play during the holidays. Everyone’s goal is to practice through the Thanksgiving week. What it does for us is that it lets the kids focus on football. They won’t have to worry about going to geometry,”

“We give them Thursday off for Thanksgiving. I’m a big family man and I want our kids to spend time with their family. Then we come back on Friday and have a big team breakfast and get ready for the afternoon.”

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