The Weatherford Kangaroos defeated the Granbury Pirates, 23-20 in week one of the 2018 season, a contest which marked the beginning of two very different campaigns for the teams involved.
Weatherford went on to earn its first playoff berth in 11 years, while Granbury missed the postseason altogether, finishing with a 2-8 season record.
Now, Weatherford will look to get off to a similarly strong start Friday when the team travels to Granbury’s home turf for the teams’ season opener.
It is a matchup the Roos expect to win, but also one they must work hard for and demonstrate consistency in, Head Coach Billy Mathis said.
“I expect a good game,” Mathis said.
“Granbury’s got a great squad, Coach Zschiesche and those guys are great coaches who prepare very well.
“Last year we came out hot, and got kind of cold in the second half, so our goal is to go out and be consistent throughout the whole game.
“I expect us to go out and win, but I know Granbury is going to be ready for the game.”
As Mathis noted, Weatherford barreled its way to a 23-7 halftime lead, before holding off a 13-0 run by Granbury in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
In Granbury’s case, redemption likely stands as a major motivational tool, Mathis said, while stressing that his own squad has plenty to prove as well.
“90 percent of the game is mental, so I’m sure Granbury’s gone through all offseason getting ready for the first game,” Mathis said.
“A game that I know their coaches thought they should have won last year. Even though they’re all important, the first game is most important because that’s the game happening right now, so that sort of mental preparation is huge in a game. We’re gonna be over there at their stadium, home field advantage is a big deal. But it doesn’t determine the whole game, so, I do believe they have redemption on their mind, but that’s fine because we’ve got a lot on our mind too.”
Shutting down Pirates’ running back Zachariah Watson, who accrued 890 rushing yards last season, will be one of the Roos’ most important objectives come Friday, Mathis said.
“Their returning running back is really good,” Mathis said.
“He’s explosive, we’ve gotta be able to control the run game and make them throw the ball. We’ve got to be able to get off the field on third downs, we can’t let them have these first downs.”
Making sure the team does not put itself in a tough spot because of self-inflicted errors is another goal for the Roos, Mathis said.
“Our biggest deal is us getting lined up right and not blowing coverages or jumping offsides,” Mathis said.
“Things that are self-inflicted wounds.”
Statistically, the Roos excelled in many areas versus the Pirates last season, outproducing the latter, 424-241 in total yardage gained while picking up three sacks, six tackles for a loss and an interception.
A repeat performance, (especially on the road) may not directly impact Weatherford’s postseason chances, but could very well help set the team up for sustained success down the line.
The Roos will look to make it happen come 7 p.m. Friday.