For the Lopez Lobos, the mindset heading into tonight’s game against the Donna High Redskins is the same they’ve had all season long: keep their blue-collar mentality and play until the end.
Lopez will face Donna High (3-1, 2-1) at 7 p.m. today at Sams Memorial Stadium in District 16-5A competition.
Last week, the Lobos (2-2, 1-2) fought off the Porter Cowboys in a close Battle of Southmost.
“That was a great game for our kids,” Lopez coach Armando Gutierrez said. “We felt as a coaching staff that the kids were able to overcome a lot of adversity during that game. Moving forward, we know our kids have that kind of work ethic instilled in them.
“We’re looking forward to the challenge of Donna. They present a good challenge and they’re a really good-coached team. They’re solid on both sides, and we just want to maintain that blue-collar mentality that we have, and our kids have that same mindset, going forward.”
Gutierrez said the Lobos focused on fundamentals during practice this week in preparation for their showdown against the Redskins.
Lopez plays a physical and aggressive game every time it steps into the field. The Lobos’ coach said doing so, if executed properly, will help the team take control of the game.
“We like to dictate the pace to people and on the way we play football,” he said. “We like to control the game and control the clock, stuff like that. We have to do certain things a little bit more efficient to be able to do that against a good-coached team like Donna.”
A staple for the Lobos has been their defense, which helped them beat Porter in Week 4.
Linebacker Carlos Arellano is a big part of that equation.
Gutierrez said Arellano has stepped up and taken on a leadership role, which helps motivate the Lopez defense in every game and practice.
“He’s the one that kind of guides everybody one way or another,” the Lopez coach said. “He’s kind of our field general. He just moves people where they need to be, especially on the way we do with our multi-front in our defense. He’s able to sit there and diagnose stuff that he sees on offense. The coaches trust him so much that he’s made moves before where it fits our scheme and things of that nature because he understands the system very well.”
Arellano and the rest of the pack will have a tough test ahead of them when the Lobos attempt to stop the ground and air attack of the Redskins.
“They’re a great-coached team and I know they’re looking for another district win and so are we, and we’re on the uprise, but we just have that same focus we’ve had from Day 1: We’re going to take it week by week, and we’re going to go out there and do what we do, and let the chips fall where they may,” Gutierrez said.
Donna High coach Ramiro Leal knows how tough the Lopez defense is, but the team is prepared to take on the challenge.
“They have a very aggressive defense,” Leal said. “We’ve played them in the past, and they played some very good defense. Our biggest thing is going to be execution on our offensive plays. They do tend to blitz a lot, so taking care of the blitz is going to be important. I think the biggest thing is going to be staying on blocks.”
For the Redskins, playing smart football will be key to winning today, the Donna High coach said. Leal added that the team likes to have a well-balanced attack against every team it goes up against.
“Any time you have a balanced attack, throwing the ball and running the ball, it correlates together,” he said. “If your priority is to run the ball, which Donna is known for running the ball, that’s fine, but if you get to a situation where loading up more than you can block, you better be able to throw the ball. If you can’t then you become one-dimensional, and you can’t be one dimensional.”
Being able to execute a good ground and air attack was the tool that helped the Redskins defeat La Joya Palmview 31-21 in Week 4.
“The biggest showing we had against Palmview is that we were able to be, basically, balanced,” Leal said. “We had about the same amount of yards passing as we did running, more or less. If you’re not one-dimensional, it helps your odds against any ballgame that you play.”
Donna High is aiming to have a similar performance tonight at Sams Memorial Stadium. The last time the Redskins traveled to Brownsville, they lost 17-9 to the Pace Vikings.
This time around, Donna High is looking to turn things around in order to get more victories under its belt as the postseason approaches.
“We’re looking forward to a good, hard-nosed game,” Leal said. “We’ve played them a couple of times before. We’ve had some good games with them and we’re hoping we can go out there and play, and at the end of the day, may the best team win.”