WEST COLUMBIA — Despite cruising to an easy victory, the Columbia Roughnecks insist they weren’t clicking on all cylinders in their season opener.
“Our passing game, we had thought we were going to make some big plays there, but were 3-of-11,” Columbia coach Brent Mascheck said. “But I think that with this offense it will take some time, and we kind of went back to an old school Wing-T approach, so we had some timing issues.”
The running game, however, showed no similar sputtering. Columbia had 277 yards on the ground in dominating Victoria East, 38-7. The ’Necks will try to have the whole offense on track when they head to Wharton to help the Tigers open their new stadium Friday.
Columbia’s defense had its unit clicking, holding the Titans to just 169 yards of offense.
“What makes it better was that we were missing two starters and we had some young guys step up and make some big plays,” Mascheck said. “They had one long drive, the second drive of the game where they moved the ball on us. But our coaches made some adjustments and shut them down the rest of the game. There are some things that we need to clean up, like the defensive linemen not trusting their keys. Defensively, everyone has to do their part, so there is room to improve there for sure.”
Senior Luke Arias sat out the opener with an ankle sprain he suffered against Angleton in a scrimmage. Linebacker Richie Garza is questionable for the Roughnecks this Friday.
“We are going to be cautious with these players during the nondistrict schedule because we want them 100 percent once they get to district,” he said.
Getting the passing game in gear will rely on quarterback Cameron Ward becoming comfortable in the modified offense. Ward had two interceptions and two touchdowns against Victoria East.
“I think he is doing well and it is two different reads for him,” Mascheck said. “Everything is kind of new to him as far as this offense, but it will work to his advantage because eventually we will be distributing the ball a lot more and that will work into his favor. I feel the passing game will come around because of Cameron and the way he throws the ball.”
The Tigers had an unpleasant visit to T.J. Mills Stadium last week, taking a 55-0 beating at the hands of host Sealy.
“The score didn’t tell the whole story; it was only 6-0 early in the second quarter,” Mascheck said. “Wharton had two touchdowns called back and the wheels came off on them.”
Wharton quarterback Donovan Krushall completed five out of 24 passes for 39 yards and an interception. Krushall is a three-year starter who threw for 29 touchdowns last season.
“We will have to do a good job of containing him by pressuring him and mixing our coverages up,” Mascheck said. “We also have to give him different looks. They also have some good receivers and defensively they return eight starters and a team that went to the area playoffs last year.”
Friday’s contest will be the 68th between the two teams, with each winning 32 and three ties. Columbia beat the Tigers last year at Griggs Field, 39-20.