SWEENY — Sweeny has a young team this season, but that doesn’t mean they’ll let the district championship hype get to their heads.
“Practice has been going pretty good for our guys this week, the weather has dropped a bit, but they have been focused all week,” Sweeny football coach Randy Lynch said. “We’ve renewed our focus and it’s been good throughout the whole team.”
The Sweeny Bulldogs (8-2) clash with the Smithville Tigers (6-4) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at T.J. Mills Stadium in Sealy for a Class 4A Division II Region III bidstrict playoff matchup.
The Bulldogs have won seven straight games after a 1-2 start to the season and their defense has played a big part in that. In that win streak, they’ve held opponents to 17 points or less and have pitched three shutouts the past three games. As a whole, the Bulldogs only surrender 211 yards per game defensively and haven’t given up double digit points since beating the Fulshear Chargers 28-17 Sept. 20.
That defense will have its hands full against the Tigers with quarterback Lane Otto leading the offense. Otto has thrown for 1,787 yards and 21 touchdowns while also rushing for 327 yards and eight touchdowns this season. His main receiving targets have been wide receiver Kurt Hawkins with 31 catches for 558 yards and three touchdowns and Charles Hodge IV with 26 catches for 416 yards and five touchdowns.
“Their offense is very explosive, they spread you out and Otto is a good quarterback,” Lynch said. “He’s a good sized guy at 5-10, 200 pounds and he can throw it and run it. He does a lot of good things for their offense.”
Bulldog senior linebacker Trey Fields and senior defensive back Justin Garner will be key for the defense as Fields is one of the leading tacklers on the team and Garner leads the team in interceptions with five.
“Defensively, they’ll be hard to prepare for, because they run multiple looks on offense and that’s tough to handle,” Lynch said.
Sweeny’s defense will match up against one of the better offense’s they’ve seen all season, but so will the Tiger’s defense.
Bulldog quarterback Trey Robbins has made the offense multi-dimensional, throwing for 1,358 yards and 12 touchdowns. His confidence to give his receivers a chance to make a play has been positive, especially since No. 1 receiver Justice Clemons has been in the fold. Clemons has 794 yards on 30 catches and he’ll be someone the Tigers will have to watch out for Friday night.
The rushing attack will be critical to the Bulldog’s success, as rushing leader Xavier Woods has run for 791 yards and seven touchdowns while Fields has run for 259 yards and seven touchdowns. Woods is the shiftier back while Fields is the short yardage, bruiser of the bunch.
To keep the Tiger defense off-balanced, both parts of the offense need to click because the Smithville defense isn’t a slouch.
“Their defense runs to the ball very well, they have some good athletes on that side of the ball,” Lynch said.
Through records, the Bulldogs look to have an edge on the Tigers on paper, but that won’t let Lynch and his team underestimate them by any stretch of the means.
“Smithville is a really good football team and that’s not just coach talk,” Lynch said. “They’re four points away from being district champions and they may be the best four seed team in our region. It’s going to be a challenge for us, but like I’ve said it’s playoff time and we’ll be ready to play.”