The Odessa High football team is riding the wave that comes with early-season success.
It’s a well-deserved journey as the Bronchos have played solid football their past 11 quarters, outscoring opponents 128-47 after falling behind in the first quarter of the season opener against Lubbock Monterey.
The close loss to the Matadors (32-27), followed by victories against Del Rio (49-0) and Lubbock Coronado (52-35) have built confidence within the program that has been lacking in recent seasons.
Within the coaching staff as well, as all the players were unknown commodities six months ago when head coach Dusty Ortiz was hired and building his staff.
Ortiz has shaken the chaff from the wheat at this point and likes what he sees.
“(Quarterback) Diego (Cervantes) is really good, that’s the big thing,” Ortiz said. “He’s going a really good job, stepping up, just being the leader we need and the player we thought he’d become.
“He’s doing a great job picking up the offense. Think about it, he’s really had three games; 7-on-7 really doesn’t count because it’s a whole different view.”
The Bronchos (2-1) are going to get a different view this week was they travel to face Wichita Falls Rider, the No. 10 team in Class 5A Division II.
The Raiders are 3-0 this season, having defeated Dumas, Frisco Independence and Midlothian, passing for more than 500 yards in their most recent victory.
Ortiz knows his defense is going to get tested, but is confident that the Bronchos will be in the game.
“Defensively, our guys are scrappy, they’re ball hawks,” he said. “They have a nose to find the football and think the quarterback is throwing to them.
“I think that if we show up and play our game, it’s going to be a fun.”
>> TRAVEL TIME: The Bronchos will face Rider this week at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls.
It is a four-plus, possibly five-plus hours drive, which always gives coaches concern about how the players will react to all that time on a bus.
Ortiz isn’t as worried heading into the final nondistrict contest of the season.
“This will be our third really four-hour-plus trip,” he said. “We’ve gone to Amarillo (scrimmage), Del Rio and now Wichita Falls.
“They have traveled well and I’m sure they’ll be fine this week. We’ll find a place to stop midway through the trip for them to get out and stretch and move around.
>> TEMPO: With the change in staff came a change in philosophy on the practice field and in the game.
The Bronchos get down business in practice, out at work before the sun comes up under the lights on Coleman Field, working quickly through the scripted workout.
That’s what Ortiz wants during the games, as well, with the Bronchos set to snap the ball every 15 to 20 seconds, forcing opponents to wear down.
Odessa High’s offense also is well-suited to move methodically down the field, given the options present by opponents.
“We like to stretch the field because that opens up things for us,” Ortiz said. “But if you want to play back and give us 5 or 6 yards a play on the pass, we’ll take that.
“(Offensive coordinator) Creighton (Reed) is very good at taking advantage of what he sees the defenses are doing.”
>> UNDERCARD: The Bronchos were 0-1-1 last week as the JV team lost, 16-6, to Lubbock Coronado at Lowrey Field in Lubbock, while the Freshmen earned a 34-34 comeback tie against the Mustangs at Ratliff Stadium.
“I was at that game and what a great effort from our kids to come back and get the tie,” Ortiz said. “The goal of our subvarsity teams is to get reps for the kids, get them playing team and to prepare them.”
>> Follow Lee Scheide on Twitter at @OALeeScheide
ODESSA HIGH AT WICHITA FALLS RIDER
>> When: 7 p.m. Friday.
>> Where: Memorial Stadium, Wichita Falls.
>> Last Season: Did not play
>> Records: Odessa High 2-1; Wichita Falls Rider 3-0.
>> Radio: KHKX (FM-99.1).
>> Live Updates: Follow on Twitter at @OA_CAmaya.
ODESSA HIGH PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Last Week: Finished with a team-high 12 tackles (11 solo, 1 assist) in the Bronchos’ 52-35 victory against Lubbock Coronado Friday at Ratliff Stadium.
This season: Leads Odessa High with 29 tackles (21 solo, 8 assists). Also had one fumble recovery and one pass break up.