ALVARADO — The Alvarado Indians continue their perilous non-district schedule Friday in their first road game of the season at Kennedale.
Alvarado and Kennedale have met each of the past five seasons, with the Wildcats holding a 4-1 mark over the Indians, but two of Kennedale’s wins in that span have come by a combined five points.
Alvarado is coming off a wild 49-42 loss to No. 10 Decatur last week where the Indians set a new record for rushing yards, led by a record-breaking performance from Colby Sampson, who rushed for 394 yards.
“Decatur’s a good football team,” Alvarado coach Jeff Dixon said. “It’d be hard to find a better team offensively in the state than they are. Their quarterback runs it. He’s 6-foot-3, poised, a coach’s kid, and he does a really good job. They have receivers who catch it. They have a tailback who’s thick and physical. They have a really special athlete at inside receiver. They’ve got weapons all over. Knowing all that, I thought our kids battled defensively.
“We controlled the clock best we could. Physically, up front, I thought we whipped them. Defensively the screen game is a big part of what they do and we shut it down. They hit some deep balls against us but couldn’t run their bread and butter. Offensively, we hammered them. Our linemen took control of it. We haven’t done that in quite some time against a good team so it was encouraging.”
Sampson rushed for 394 yards and three touchdowns on 43 carries to set a new school record for rushing yards in a single game.
“Colby is a strong and physical runner,” Dixon said. “He fits what we do real well. He carried it over 40 times and he had an outstanding game. Colby’s rugged and a good ball player. I’m proud of him. Behind him was Isaiah Hernandez, who had over 100 rushing yards as well. It was a good rushing night because of what our hogs did up front.”
Kennedale sits at 1-1, coming off a 35-28 win over previously ranked Midlothian Heritage. The Wildcats lost their season opener against Decatur, 35-21.
“First of all, don’t let anybody tell you that Kennedale is down,” Dixon said. “They’re very talented. They happen to have six or seven sophomores, so that tells you about that class; those are some talented young men. They got beat by Decatur week 1. Well, Decatur’s a good football team. They did not have an answer for what Decatur did offensively. Also, Kennedale didn’t have a second scrimmage. So I think Decatur probably snuck up on them.
“They rebounded and beat the No. 5 team in the state of Texas in Midlothian Heritage, and Heritage is really good. Kennedale got after their tail. They are typical Kennedale. We’ve got to be physical. We’ve got to be able to run the football and then on defense get lined up and play great defense. It should be a battle. We’ve got to try to eliminate the big play. When those backs get to the second level, they’re gone. So we’ve got to contain the running game.”
Dixon said defending an explosive running game requires proper alignment before the snap and every player sticking to their assignments post-snap.
“We’ve got to get lined up right defensively and read our keys,” Dixon said. “Our kids have to do their job. We get in trouble when they don’t do their job, and good teams expose that. They’ve got wing-T stuff and people don’t run it much. So preparing for it in a short time poses some problems. But the main thing is get lined up and be gap sound. We’ll be OK if we do that, and if we don’t we’ll probably give up some big plays.
“They don’t throw much but they are dangerous enough to play-action and next thing you know a guy’s wide open and they get it to him. So our corners have to be disciplined as well.”
Dixon admits to referring like a broken record at times regarding Alvarado’s keys to success, but the Indians stick to a similar, if unchanged, game plan on a weekly basis.
“Offensively we need to be able to move the football and get first downs,” Dixon said. “If we do that, we will help our defense and allow them a chance not to be on the field as much. It’s the same game plan as always for us. Seems like now days everybody we play is potent offensively, so to combat that we’ve got to keep our offense on the field and have no turnovers.
“The strength of Kennedale’s team is on defense this year. Those guys can play. They fly to the football. They’re not as young on defense as they are on the offensive side. It’s going to be all we can do offensively, but at the same time I think we’re good enough to move the football on them.”
Kickoff between the Indians and Wildcats is 7:30 p.m. Friday from Wildcat Stadium.