By TONY EIERDAM
It is do or die for the Mineral Wells Rams today in their hunt for a playoff berth.
The Rams (5-3, 1-2) will travel to Springtown (4-4, 2-1) in a must-win District 6-3A contest for MWHS.
The Rams need to defeat Springtown today and first-place Kennedale on Nov. 9 at home to clinch a playoff berth. In fact, if the Rams can win their last two games they would also own a share of the 6-3A title.
Rams head coach Chuck Lawrence said the focus now is the job ahead.
“We need to win the last two to make the playoffs, but right now we are focused on Springtown,” Lawrence said. “Springtown is playing two quarterbacks, and they are scoring a lot of points.
“They have excellent receivers who all have good hands, and Tyler Robertson (94 carries, 528 yards) is a good running back who runs hard.”
The Porcupines like to throw the ball, but Lawrence said they also do a good job of trying to stay balanced offensively.
“I would guess they throw the ball 55 percent of the time, and that’s fairly balanced,” he said. “But they really like to throw, and at a fast pace. They will spread the ball around to many receivers, and they compliment that with zone and zone read (running plays) and a little bit of a power running game with Robertson.
“They will show double and triple wide receivers to either side on every snap.”
Lawrence said the Porcupines have had success by playing two quarterbacks – freshman Landry Turner and junior Colby Moore – in each game. The freshman signal caller is the son of Springtown head coach Brad Turner.
“Turner has a good arm, and both run very well,” Lawrence said. “Their quarterbacks are playing well, and as long as it is working they will stick with it.
“Moore runs the ball a little more, and they both pass well, so it doesn’t matter to us which one is in there.”
Lawrence said the key to slowing down the Porcupines’ offense is putting pressure on the passers. The coach feels the front four of Hunter Moss, Matt Aguilar, A.J. Williams and Preston Hoskins will have to find a way to get to the quarterback. The Rams may also find other ways to get pressure on Moore and Turner.
“We have to make the quarterback uncomfortable and get him off his spot,” Lawrence said. “We need to make him either deliver the ball faster than he wants to, or make him hold it longer and get some sacks.
“We understand that we have to pressure their quarterbacks.”
Springtown has four receivers with at least 17 receptions and two others with 13 apiece. Junior Dylan Ray led the Porcupines with 33 catches for 362 yards and seven touchdowns, while junior Ryan Hester leads the team with 443 reception yards on 29 catches. He has scored five TDs.
“Their receivers seem to catch everything,” Lawrence said. “The balls stick to them like they have glue on their hands. They have made some unbelievable catches in some tight spots this year. The quarterbacks get the ball to the uncovered spots, and the receivers get to those balls.
“They also have a good offensive line that has been giving the quarterbacks time to throw. They pass block very well.”
As in all games, turnovers are key.
Lawrence pointed to turnovers as a big reason the Rams lost to Lake Worth, and he feels the Rams can put themselves in good position to win by limiting their own turnovers while creating fumbles and interceptions on defense.
“Lake Worth turned the ball over (more) against Springtown and got beat; and Springtown turned the ball over more against Kennedale and lost,” he said. “Heck, the Cowboys turned the ball over (Sunday) and got beat.
“Usually, the winner of the turnover battle ends up on top. That will be paramount in this game.”
Of course, the Rams’ formula on offense will be to run the ball successfully. Senior running back Gilbert Castorena has rushed for more than 100 yards in all of the games this year except the opener, and last week the Rams had a third member of their team rush for more than 100 yards when sophomore Josh Hardee piled up 123 yards last week in MWHS’ 57-0 win over Diamond Hill.
Senior Travis Mallory also has had a 100-yard game on the ground.
On defense, Springtown runs out of a basic 4-3 look – will show 4-2 at times – and their strength is the front four.
“Their front four is very good, active, and they are big,” Lawrence said. “I think the key to the football game will be their front four against our offensive line.
“They blitz quite a bit, and we will have to control that.
“Our main goal is to try and keep control of the ball, which will keep their offense off the field.
“We will have to able to run the football and control their defensive line.”