On Friday night, a pair of state-ranked squads will tangle in Glen Rose with 7-3A positioning on the line.
No. 17 Glen Rose (6-1, 0-1) enters the matchup off its bye to host No. 14 Alvarado (6-2, 1-1), which comes in off a loss to No. 3 Stephenville 32-20. Prior to that, the Indians faced Bridgeport (64-13), Mexia (56-14), Fort Worth Southwest (20-13), China Spring (28-14), Waco Connally (13-14), Decatur (35-0) and Hillsboro (63-7).
Tiger coach Tommy Dunn believes his team used the bye wisely, but that remains to be seen.
“We’ll find out how beneficial this bye was on Friday,” Dunn said. “We had good workouts all week and it gave us a chance to step back and recharge. Sometimes it can disrupt your routine, but we’re getting back in the swing of things because we don’t have time for anything less; Alvarado is very good.
“We used the break as an opportunity to hit the weight room and our conditioning hard. We reevaluated some things on both sides of the ball and the objective was all about getting better.”
Certainly it was beneficial for Tiger coaches to examine the Alvarado-Stephenville matchup closely.
“I thought both teams did a good job,” Dunn said. “While Alvarado is very good defensively, Stephenville was able to create some opportunities in their passing game. They left some points on the field with penalties and turnovers, including a fumble on the (Indian 1). Overall, the game turned out about the way I expected it to.”
At a glance, Alvarado seemed to challenge Stephenville at a level similar to what Glen Rose did a week earlier.
“It’s hard to compare how well we played Stephenville to how well Alvarado did, because our teams are so different,” Dunn said. “Stephenville is a pass-first team and we haven’t really seen that otherwise, so I think we match up better to Alvarado’s run-heavy approach. I do know that we have several very good teams in this district, and it usually comes down to who can play the cleanest football.”
The Alvarado offense has been able to take advantage of favorable matchups, considering it has produced at least 56 points three times this season.
“Their quarterback Kenny West has over 35 games of starting experience and he operates that offense flawlessly as the leader,” Dunn said. “Their running back (Lee Hardy) is very tough, and they will also bring (Marcus McNeil) in at running back. He’s a faster kid who also starts on defense.
“One of the advantages for Alvarado is that most of their kids only play on one side of the ball. They have three starters back on their offensive line and a good tight end (Michael Vanderhoff).”
The Indian defense had an answer for every opponent to date except Stephenville, Even it its loss to Waco Connally, Alvarado only gave up 14 points.
“Marcus McNeil is outstanding at safety, and their middle linebacker Marcus Villarreal is a very good player,” the coach said. “Their D-line is pretty good. They are real comparable defensively to Stephenville.”
The task at hand
Even though the Tigers’ game against Stephenville is becoming a distant memory, Dunn won’t soon forget the sea of red that night.
“We had a tremendous crowd,” he said of the turnout at Stephenville. “That was the biggest (Glen Rose) crowd I can remember us playing in front of and I hope everybody will come out this week to give us more support. It’s a big game, so hopefully the stadium will be full.”
Injuries won’t be a concern for the Tigers, as Dunn said everyone who has been playing through the Stephenville game would be available this week.
The Tigers are certainly capable of beating the Indians, but the margin for error will be slim.
“I think we have to limit the number of long drives they have where they eat up the clock,” Dunn said. “We have to take advantage of our special teams, because I think they can give us good field position. Getting ahead of them is critical, so we have to put points on the board.
“Beyond giving up 32 to Stephenville, the most points they’d given up this season was 14. We definitely have a challenge to consistently move the ball on them, so we just have to be very precise in what we do.”