Mustangs hoping for fast start against Foster
There are times when a regular season football clash can almost parallel the significance of a playoff matchup.
Such a situation presents itself this week for the Friendswood football team.
When Richmond Foster rolls into town Friday for a District 10-5A meeting, the ramifications of the outcome will likely be felt down the road.
Friendswood (5-0) and Foster (3-2) each bring 2-0 district records into the game, and it hasn’t escaped Mustang head coach Robert Koopmann that his team would benefit greatly from a sixth straight triumph.
However, Koopmann says Friendswood can ill-afford another rough beginning as it did against Galveston Ball this past Friday when it failed to score in the opening period.
“We’ve got to start better,” he said. “We scored 21 points in the second quarter like last week (against Texas City), and kept it going.
“It’s not like we’re not playing well on offense, we’re just not finishing things. We’ve had bad rhythm from coaching on down, from not getting plays in on time to bad body language, and just the overall mechanism not working.
“We have to just relax and go play. We’re fixing to hit this run of Foster, Shadow Creek and Hightower. I’m afraid you can’t give up the first quarter against any of those teams and win games.”
Friendswood defeated the Golden Tors, 35-7, at Kermit Courville Stadium in Galveston. The win allowed the Mustangs to match their first 5-0 start since 2012, Koopmann’s first season as head coach.
“Defensively, we played lights out for four quarters,” Koopmann said. “We moved the ball on offense, but we threw one bad ball for an interception, and then had another one tipped, and it was picked off.
“We kept piddling around until we found our rhythm.”
Koopmann wasn’t overly concerned about playing on one of the few grass fields remaining at the Class 5A or 6A level when his squad made the trip to the island. He stressed as much to his players.
“The grass was in great shape for all the rain we’ve had,” the Mustang head coach said. “It was a great playing surface…no problems at all.
“I told our kids on Thursday that I don’t want to hear anything about it. We’ve played a hundred 7-on-7 games on grass this year. We play freshman games on grass. We play JV games on grass. We made sure grass was not going to be an issue.”
Friendswood quarterback Luke Grden completed 24 of 35 passes for 326 yards and four touchdowns, but was also intercepted three times. Three of those TD tosses came in the decisive second quarter.
The first of those covered 26 yards to Christian Lee, and the next two went to wide receiver Austin Alvarez, who hauled in passes of 14 and 11 yards.
With 7:02 left in the third quarter, Mustang running back Colton Halata scored on a 6-yard run as Friendswood widened the bulge to 28-0.
After Ball scored a touchdown on a 31-yard pass from Martavian Jackson to Nigel Lee, Friendswood added a fourth-quarter TD on an 8-yard pass from Grden to Halata.
The Mustangs now turn their attention to Foster, which isn’t short on talent.
“They’ve got one D-lineman (Chidozie Nwankwo) that’s for real that just committed to Houston this week,” Koopmann said. “They also have a really talented, athletic quarterback, and a receiver (Shadeed Ahmed) that can go.
“Foster has been all about the big play, but they’ll run the ball on you. They really like to get the ball to their good receiver downfield and they like to let the quarterback use his feet. Our defensive line can’t let the quarterback run around in space or we’ll have a long night.
“Defensively, their line is very, very active. I think they were a state quarterfinal team a year ago, and looking at them, you can understand why.”
Recording two more district wins would all but assure Friendswood of a playoff berth, but getting those will be no easy task.
“The challenges are just beginning for us,” Koopmann said. “We knew this three-week span would be important, and here it is.
“The good news is that we have two home games coming up. It doesn’t feel like we’ve played at home much this year.”