Before the 2021 season, the Monahans football team was still looking to get a grasp on head coach Fred Staugh’s offensive system.
The Loboes made progress last year with a playoff appearance, but the head coach said he feels good seeing his team take things to another level this season.
Monahans currently owns a 9-3 record and is set to face Aubrey in the third round of the Class 4A Division II playoffs at 12:30 p.m. at Abilene Wylie’s Sandifer Stadium.
“Our kids worked really hard, they’ve done a great job,” Staugh said. “They’ve adjusted, they’ve played some really good football teams and they’ve battled.”
The Loboes have worked on their mental toughness along with the fundamentals of their systems and that has showed at multiple points over this year’s campaign.
Monahans started off the season with a six-game winning streak, defeating multiple playoff teams as part of its nondistrict slate.
The Loboes faced a tougher test in district play, suffering losses against Snyder, Greenwood and Sweetwater.
The play of quarterback Cheno Navarrette has helped Monahans find the rhythm it has needed to make a deep playoff run and keep the season alive through Thanksgiving week.
Navarrette has thrown for 2,432 yards and 23 touchdowns this season to go along with 1,232 rushing yards and 12 scores on the ground.
The sophomore is now in his second year leading the Loboes, finding more confidence in his play through his experiences on the field.
Staugh said he has seen growth in his quarterback from last year, where he seemed nervous in a bi-district round loss against Perryton.
“I think he’s gotten a lot better,” Staugh said. “There’s one thing that’s pretty telling to me, when we went to Perryton last year and played, I felt like he was just a bundle of nerves.
“Now he’s played in two more playoff games and he’s won two playoff games, so I think he’s just more confident in what he’s doing and he’s done a great job taking care of this offense and leading this offense.”
Navarrette has spread the ball out evenly to his receiver group, which includes players like Leonard Davis, Adan Saucedo, Tanner Jones and McClay Ortega.
Each receiver has caught passes for at least 200 yards on the season to keep defenses on their toes.
Navarrette said he has a lot of trust in the players running routes for the Loboes every week.
He added that he feels comfortable running the offense for his team, despite only being in his second year of high school.
“To me it really doesn’t matter that I’m a sophomore or if I was a senior, I just got to play my role and do the best I can for my team,” Navarrette said.
Along with strong plays from its offense, Monahans has also seen its defense make strides with its speed and athleticism after switching from an even front to and odd front to fit its personnel better.
The trio of Tre Gomez, Ryan Ramirez and Bryan Bejarano has combined for 316 tackles throughout the season.
Jones and Davis are players that have made considerable impacts on both sides of the ball, with Jones recording eight sacks and Davis reeling in seven interceptions.
In this year’s playoffs, Monahans has picked up some convincing victories over Lubbock Estacado and Van Alstyne.
Staugh said the Loboes have done whatever it takes to come out with wins during the first two rounds of this year’s playoffs.
The head coach believes his team will have to play its best football game to come out with a victory over an Aubrey team that owns an 11-1 record.
“They’re a really, really good football team and we’re going to have to control the ball,” Staugh said. “We’re going to have to take care of the football, we’re going to have to cause turnovers and maybe get a defensive score or a special teams score.
“We’re going to have to play an all-around, really good football game.”
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