Goats seek first playoff win in 25 years against Dallas Madison
Groesbeck’s second-place showing in District 8-3A, Division I with a 4-1 record this season was the highest finish by a Groesbeck football team in 25 years.
It’s also been a quarter of a century since the Goats won a playoff game. But if they are to snap that streak, it will have to be done without one and probably two of their best offensive players.
Groesbeck will take on Dallas Madison, the thirdplace team in District 7-4A, Division II, in a bi-district contest at 6 p.m. Saturday at Waco ISD Stadium.
The Goats will be without sophomore running back Ma’Quay Smith, who has a slight tear in his meniscus and will undergo surgery Friday. Smith did not play in Groesbeck’s regular-season finale against Fairfield. He has rushed for more than 1,300 yards this season.
In addition, Groesbeck will likely be without sophomore quarterback Allen Lewis, who sustained a knee injury near the end of the Fairfield game.
“He’s very questionable for this game, if he plays,” Groesbeck coach Jerry Bomar said. “If he plays, he will be restricted. But there’s a good chance he won’t be able to play.”
If Lewis can’t play, Zack Wilson will get the nod at quarterback. Wilson, who also plays linebacker on defense, started two games earlier this season when Lewis was injured.
With Smith unable to play, John Reed will start at running back. He gained 85 yards in the victory over Fairfield and “had a solid game,” according to Bomar.
Bomar said Dallas Madison will challenge Groesbeck with their athleticism.
“Dallas Madison is the most athletic team we’ve played, with the exception of Malakoff,” Bomar said. “They have outstanding athletes. They have the fastest team that we’ve played since Malakoff. They’re capable, on offense, of scoring anytime. They can look pretty average and, bang-bang, they’ll hit you quick.”
Madison lines up in a spread formation and is led by quarterback Chris Tucker. The 6-foot-4, 195-pound junior can sling the ball all over the field. He can also make plays with his feet. He scored on a 90-yard touchdown in last week’s loss to defending state champion Grandview.
Madison was within 24-17 in the third quarter of that game before Grandview pulled away to a 52-17 victory.
“They’re a throwing team. They like to throw the ball a lot,” Bomar said. “They have the capability to run. They have a big, strong, quarterback who’s a great athlete. They have a really fast running back. They’re two of the best athletes we’ve seen this year.”
It will be important for the Goats to be sound in their tackling on defense.
“We’ve got to tackle well. You cannot miss tackles,” Bomar said. “If you miss tackles, it’s over. We really have to play smart and intelligent on defense. It’s going to require great effort by our players to keep our discipline and not allow them to have any big plays.”
On offense, the Goats will try to do what has gotten them to the playoffs, even if they are without their two of their major players.
“I think we’re going to have to play with the same formula that we’ve been playing with,” Bomar said. “Establish the run and then we throw when we want to throw. We have not thrown more than 20 passes in a game in all our district games.”
Still, Bomar said, his team will take its shots down the field.
“We have to take some chances throwing the ball this game,” he said. “The biggest thing is, we can’t turn the ball over. We just cannot do it in this game. We cannot help this team.”
Where the Goats are now is a far cry from where they were a year ago, when they finished with a 2-8 record and lost all six of their district games. The youngsters who played on that team, including Lewis and Smith as freshmen, have grown physically and also have that year of experience under their belts. Bomar credits the coaching staff with accelerating the improvement.
“I think the key to the turnaround is that our coaching staff stayed with the plan and we never wavered from our discipline and being structured with the kids and not accepting mediocrity,” Bomar said. “And not allowing the kids to quit when things get tough. I think that has been the key. Because, we’ve gotten rid of kids from the program, here and there, and we’ve got kids that are still in there that we’ve kept pushing forward to not give up and not quit. I think it’s been a consistency with our staff from the start of this year.”
Bomar said in the past, Groesbeck football teams have had trouble staying the course when adversity strikes during a game or a season. This year, they have battled through the hills and valleys of a football season.
“We have not wavered,” Bomar said. “We’re not going to accept anything less than their ability to compete all the time and not quit when things get tough. That’s the way we’ve played this whole season. When you play like that in high school athletics, you’re always going to have a chance. That does not guarantee you’ll win. But you’ll have a chance, you’ll be competitive, you’ll have a shot at it. That’s what we’ve done up to this point.”
And Bomar expects his team to continue playing that way Saturday, even without two of its best offensive players.
“That’s two huge losses,” he said of being without Lewis and Smith. “I have a lot of confidence in our other kids. The team knows this happened earlier in the year. We’re gong to have to rally, play as hard as we can and play very intelligent.”