Considering the way Calallen looked in its two preseason scrimmages, longtime coach Phil Danaher wasn't sure what to expect in last week's season opener against Mercedes.
The Wildcats didn't disappoint.
Calallen traveled to the Rio Grande Valley and dominated the Tigers in a 40-7 shellacking. The Wilcats piled up 404 total yards – 236 rushing, 168 passing – and held Mercedes to nine first downs and 169 total yards.
That kind of effort this early in the season bodes well for Calallen (1-0 overall) as it prepares for Friday's hom opener against Weslaco East (1-0).
“I thought we executed pretty well for the first ballgame,” Danaher said. “The teams that make the fewest turnovers are the teams that usually win in the first week and we took care of the ball pretty good. We made some improvement and that’s good because we didn’t look good in the two scrimmages. We came back out from halftime and played hard.”
The Wildcats fumbled twice against the Tigers, losing one. That hardly made in a difference, however.
First-year quarterback Derek Scheible went 13 of 22 for 147 yards in his debut under center. He also had 13 carries for 50 yards and was one of five ball carriers to cross the end zone.
Running back Chris Price led the team with 67 yards on only two carries, including a touchdown, while Robert Maldonado added 51 yards and a score on 11 attempts.
Tristan Crossland led all receivers with five catches for 57 yards, followed by Nathaniel McDonald with three catches for 37 yards.
Danaher was also pleased with the defense, which features a revamped secondary. The Wildcats gave up 103 yards through the air and came up with one interception by Brice Kniep.
“We broke down a couple of times on some coverages, but other than that for a young secondary they played real well,” Danaher said. “But we’re not anywhere where we want to be yet.”
Danaher anticipates a real challenge from Weslaco East.
“They don’t quite have the size that they had the last time we played them, but they have a lot of quickness. They look to be a lot quicker on defense than what they have been. When you don’t have the size you have to be,” Danaher said. “(Offensively) they’re very powerful. Last time we played them we beat them on the next to last play of the game. That was a barn burner and a physical game. They’re well-coached and very strong. They are big into powerlifting. It doesn’t matter how small they are, they’re all strong.”
Danaher said the key will be to remain as balanced as possible on offense.
“I think we have to execute like we did last week and not turn the ball over,” Danaher said. “We have to execute the passing game as well as the running game and try to keep them off-balance.”
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