Tidehaven freshmen quarterback Brandon Litzau runs through a drill during practice in El Maton on Monday.
Originally published on Monday, October 8, 2012
EL MATON - Tidehaven coach Brent Mascheck has encountered more than few raised eyebrows when he starts talking about the playoffs.
Mascheck played on Shiner's 1986 state championship team, but insists he is filled with optimism about the Tigers' prospects rather than his hometown's most famous product.
"We're fighting for a playoff spot right now," Mascheck said during Monday's practice. "That's our goal to be in the playoffs. People think I'm crazy when you start 0-5. But we knew coming in that we were going to struggle early on with a new system and so many young kids."
Tidehaven lost its first five games to extend its losing streak to eight games.
But the Tigers evened their District 15-2A, Division I record at 1-1 - their first loss coming to district favorite and No. 4 East Bernard - with a 31-0 win over Wallis Brazos on Friday night.
"They really bought into our system," said Mascheck, who came to Tidehaven after coaching at Columbus last season. "On Saturdays we've pointed out the things they were doing right and the things we were doing wrong and told them if we just fixed those things we would win football games. They saw that."
Mascheck knew it would take the Tigers some time to become a cohesive unit.
Tidehaven has three seniors and two juniors and the remainder of the squad is sophomores and freshmen.
The Tigers are starting two freshmen on the offensive line, a freshman wide receiver and a freshman at quarterback.
"They are learning," Mascheck said. "Our freshman quarterback (Brandon Litzau) this past week is the first week we started letting him audible. This week we're going to start a little more and as the season progresses and next year we're going to be able to call a lot of plays at the line of scrimmage."
Sophomore running back Eric Villarreal knew it was just a matter of time before the Tigers were able to grasp the new offense and defense installed by Mascheck and his staff.
Villarreal rushed for 171 yards and two touchdowns and had over 200 yards of total offense in the win over Brazos.
"As a small town, people are always telling us there's bigger and better things but we know that," Villarreal said. "We're tough enough to get through it as a team. You keep your heads up and good things happen."
Installing toughness was a goal for Mascheck, who remembered how difficult it was to play against Tidehaven when he was at Shiner.
"Coach Mascheck tells us all the time that we've got to be a mean team and a tough team," Villarreal said. "We've got to play hard because that's how they were back in the day and that's why they did so well and that's what you have to have to be a good, successful program."
Mascheck believes it's simply a matter of when and not if Tidehaven will have success. He'd prefer the winning come sooner than later starting with Friday night at Matagorda County rival Van Vleck.
"You judge them by the their progress day by day and you see stuff in practice they couldn't do two days ago and now they're doing it," Mascheck said. "They work hard, they do what you ask and they want to win. We've just got to show them how to do it."
Wharton lost its season-opener to Cuero when the Gobblers threw a 30-yard touchdown pass with 2 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
The Tigers got to experience the thrill of a last-second victory on Friday at Sealy.
Quarterback Bartee Grissom threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to Leeshad O'Neal on the final play of the game.
Wharton improved to 2-0 in District 25-3A with the 36-35 win and will host Columbus this week.
Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.