WEST COLUMBIA —There’s a fine line between confidence and being too sure of one’s self, but the ‘Necks are on the side of confidence when it comes to being prepared for their upcoming opponent.
“We’re excited for the challenge, they are the reigning region champs and I’ve told our guys we have to beat the champ to be the champ,” Columbia head football coach Brent Mascheck said. “If we play our style of football we will win.”
The Columbia Roughnecks (9-1) take on the Liberty Hill Panthers (4-5) at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Waller ISD Stadium in a Class 4A Division I Region III bidistrict matchup.
The Roughnecks have leaned on their running game all season, and that’s not going to change anytime soon. They average 297 yards per game on the ground, with four players rushing for over 500 yards this season.
Roughneck running back Jordan Woodard leads the team with 741 yards on 73 carries and five touchdowns, while Jamaurion Woodard has 658 yards and seven touchdowns. Jame’son Rebector has run for 583 yards and nine touchdowns and bruising fullback, Luke Arias, has run for 552 yards and nine touchdowns.
Columbia will have to get through University of Texas-San Antonio commit defensive tackle William Baty, who accumulated 13 tackles for loss and three sacks. He is a big defensive presence at 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds that the Panthers use to disrupt defenses.
“He (Baty) creates a lot of problems on the defensive side of the ball. We have to do a good job sustaining our blocks and avoiding mental mistakes,” Mascheck said.
Defensively, the ’Necks will have their hands full with the slot-T, an offense predicated on running the football. It’s something the Roughnecks have focused on getting a feel for and stopping.
“They’re definitely a running team, a real pound it out with three yards and a cloud of dust,” Mascheck said. “We have to make sure we’re trusting our keys and our reads and play sound defense. “
The Panthers have two backs who have run for over 1,000 yards. Running back Trey Seward leads the offense with 1,359 yards on 134 carries and 14 touchdowns while Blake Simpson has run for 1,162 yards on 156 carries and 13 touchdowns. Combined they average 280 rushing yards per game and are the bulk of the Panthers’ offense.
Mascheck and the Roughnecks have only surrendered 110 yards per game on the ground and believe they can match the physicality being brought to them tonight.
“We’re been pretty good defensively all year, they’re going to be physical and we’re going to match their physicality,” Mascheck said. “It’s going to be a bruiser type of game and we’re ready for that.”
With all the success the ‘Necks have had this season, it’s brewed a confidence that could take them a long way if they can’t get out of their own way.
“Our players have responded well and have been focused all week,” Mascheck said. “The only thing that’s beaten us is ourselves.”
The winner of this game will play either La Vernia or La Feria in the area playoff.