GODLEY — After six weeks of non-district action, the Godley Wildcats and Ferris Yellowjackets will square off to begin District 4-4A Division II play Friday.
The Wildcats have gotten off to a strong start in Curtis Lowery’s first year as Godley head coach with a 5-1 record while Ferris has struggled to a 1-5 mark in its first six outings of the season.
Lowery said while they’re still searching for more consistency overall, he’s pleased with his team as they go into their district opener Friday.
“I like where our team’s at,” Lowery said. “We’ve pretty much seen everything. That’s one thing you like going into district is knowing you’re battle-tested. We’ve played tight ball games, we’ve played from behind and we’ve played ahead. We’re playing at a high level. We’d like to be more consistent on both sides of the ball, but I think we are in a good spot right now.”
The Wildcats are coming off their best offensive output of the season in a 67-40 win over Canton last Thursday in Sunnyvale. Godley junior quarterback Ethan McBrayer threw for 580 yards and eight touchdowns, finishing just shy in the running for Built Ford Tough Class 4A Player of the Week.
For the season, McBrayer has completed 100-of-167 passes for 1,762 yards with 23 touchdowns and only three interceptions.
“He’s done a great job and he’s gotten better every single week,” Lowery said. “I think overall, as an offense we played well — our offensive line and receivers have done a great job and Kolby Bartlett’s running the ball hard. Ethan is getting the ball to his playmakers and making good decisions with the football. He’s done exactly what we need him to do. He’s getting better every single game. He did some small things last week that he didn’t do the week before, which allowed him to have that big game. He’s a good kid and he continues to work really hard.”
In last year’s district opener, Ferris edged Godley, 30-22, as the Yellowjackets went 3-1 in district play to finish second while the Wildcats went 1-3 to finish fourth.
This time around, the Wildcats look to get off to a 1-0 start and hope that sets them up for an opportunity to contend for a district title.
“It’s extremely important [to start district 1-0],” Lowery said. “But every district game is important. Seeding is extremely important, but those are not things we’re concerned about right now. We’re taking it one week at a time and that’s how we’ve approached it all year. We’re going to play every snap as hard as we can and let the chips fall where they may. The wins and losses will take care of themselves if the kids play clean football and play for 48 minutes.”
Despite Ferris’ 1-5 record, Lowery said the Yellowjackets have the players to pose certain problems.
“They’re athletic as a team and they’re big on both fronts,” he said. “So they’re scary in that way. They can break one offensively at any time. Defensively they’re big up front also and I think they run to the ball really well.”
Ferris has five players with at least 100 rushing yards this season, led by Jeremiah Harrison’s 512 yards.
“It tells me that No. 1 their offensive line is playing well,” Lowery said. “They’ve got a stable of running backs who do a good job of not going down at first contact. We’ve got to tackle at first contact. That’s something we harp on here, and we’re getting better at it. I’m excited for the matchup. I think they’re a good football team.”
Facing a team that runs the ball nearly 70 percent of its offensive snaps, Lowery said it will be key for the Wildcats’ front seven — led by Landon Stevenson, Tim Zamira and Josiah Caro — to limit Ferris on first down.
“That’s always big, but I think that is what we have to do this week,” Lowery said. “We’ve been going in talking about eliminating big plays. They’re the type of offense that can make big plays but we’ve also got to keep them from getting four yards every carry. We’ve got to get push up front and get some tackles for losses. The main thing from the get-go is our defensive line and linebackers have got to step up and make plays early to set the tone and not let them have 10- or 13-play drives.”
Godley’s focus on offense against Ferris is consistent execution, no matter the play call.
“I think offensively it’s just executing at a higher level,” Lowery said. “It starts out with our offensive line continuing to play well. In order for us to run the ball, we’ve got to open holes. In order to throw the ball, we’ve got to protect. Whether it’s running or throwing, it’s about execution and not getting behind the chains.”
Kickoff between Godley and Ferris is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday from Godley Field. It is also homecoming for the Wildcats.