RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas –
The Randolph Ro-Hawks, outweighed but not outmanned in a 28-7 loss last week against the Navarro Panthers, still have an opportunity to contend for District 27-2A honors.
Three teams will emerge from district play and make the postseason, giving the Ro-Hawks (1-3) optimism, despite their record.
"We made too many mistakes and that's been our perspective since the season opener," said Pete Wesp, head coach, whose team fumbled three times and lost two against a Navarro squad that averaged more than 275 pounds per player along the front line positions. "We fell behind initially, then drove inside the five-yard-line before fumbling it away. It's those kinds of things that cause us the most problems. The determination of the kids has not been an issue. It's just mistakes."
In the first quarter, Kyle McNally took a right-side pitch and ran for big yardage, down to the four-yard line to set up a golden opportunity. Two plays later, the Ro-Hawk tailback got the call to the left side and was flipped by a lunging defensive back before fumbling.
A Navarro lineman carried the ball back to midfield to end the threat.
"Navarro is a three-yards, cloud-of-dust running team and they grinded it at us," Wesp said. "Fortunately, they weren't able to put together any short drives after we fumbled, but they did have longer scoring drives of 70 and 50 yards that sort of exemplified the type of team they are."
Randolph eventually got a scoring run from McNally, who led the team with 70 yards on eight carries, but Navarro came out on top in nearly every statistical category in posting the road win.
The Panthers outgained Randolph 268-150 on the ground but both teams combined for just four pass completions.
"They had a good team and we knew they would be talented," Wesp said. "But we need to not put ourselves in the types of bad situations due to turnovers. Evidently, this team has not learned how to hold on to the football."
Tony Smith has been perfect on extra-point kick tries so far and Anthony Ravella is punting well, allowing the Ro-Hawks to be constructive with the weekly battle of field position. Smith, McNally, Deron Terrell, Danny Atalig are all averaging between five and seven yards per carry in the RHS backfield, making the Ro-Hawks one of the most productive rushing teams in the area.
"A goal would be to have four players rushing for 100 yards or more in a game, but if one back is getting big yardage he will likely get the ball more than the others," Wesp said. "It goes without saying."
This week's game opens District 27-2A play, with Blanco set to host Randolph for a 7:30 kickoff tonight. Blanco was picked in a preseason coaches' poll to win the district championship.
"Blanco is a mirror image of our team," Wesp said. "They like to work out of the Wing T-option and they run the ball more often than they throw. We are going to have to play mistake-free, or close to it."
Sophomore defensive tackle Mack Blount had 10 tackles in the loss to Navarro and was one of seven defenders with double-figure stops in the loss. Nic Walters led RHS with 18 while Atalig had 16, McNally had 15, Smith and Cesar Ledesma had 13 apiece, and Josh Dodgen had 11.