MAY - With two straight district championships to their credit, the May Tigers find themselves in a must-win situation just two weeks into their district schedule.
Following a 72-28 home loss to No. 2 Strawn last week, the Tigers now venture to No. 6 Gordon at 7:30 p.m. Friday with their postseason hopes at stake. If May (4-2, 0-1) were to come up short against the Longhorns (5-1, 1-0), the Tigers would need major help from the rest of the district to get back in the playoff picture.
“Mathematically we’d still be in it, but realistically we’d have a real, real hard time making the playoffs if we were to drop this one,” said May head coach Craig Steele. “We’re looking at this one as one we’ve got to get to have a shot at the playoffs.”
Strawn and Gordon are alike in many ways, according to Steele, which could lead to another tough challenge for the Tigers on both sides of the ball.
“Unfortunately they’re pretty similar,” Steele said. “Gordon has good size with some speed and they like to pound the football, so they are very similar to Strawn in that regard. It will be another tough challenge to match up with them size wise on defense, and to slow them down. Hopefully we’ll do a better job than last week.”
The 72 points Strawn scored on May was the second most this season, outside of the 102 Throckmorton produced in its epic five-overtime win earlier in the season. Despite the lopsided outcome last week, Steele was pleased with the Tigers’ effort.
“We played hard and did a few good things, Strawn was just a real good football team,” Steele said. “I didn’t have a problem with how hard we played or with how well we played. There were a few things we didn’t do well, but I attribute that more to how good of a team Strawn is, not us playing poorly.”
The Tigers will attempt to get more production out of an offense that has averaged 55 points per game, but mustered a season-low four touchdowns last week.
Nathan Howard continues to be the spark plug for May’s offense as he has completed 102-of-158 passes for 1,587 yards with 27 touchdowns and rushed for 780 yards and 12 scores.
The Tigers have several receiving options available to Howard, including Matt Pruitt (25-415, 7 TDs), Cody Brown (23-335, 4 TDs) and Tyler Hammond (18-368, 7 TDs). Jeremy O’Briant also caught three passes for 65 yards and a touchdown last week.
“Strawn really impressed me with how well they played the spread, but that’s what we do best and that’s what we’ll do again this week,” Steele said. “We’re going to have a similar game plan, but it won’t be completely the same because they have different personnel. We’ll do things different based on who they have playing out there. But with only six kids on the field, there’s not a whole lot of changing that’s going to happen.”
May has won 29 of its last 32 regular season games, while Gordon - which hammered Gustine, 56-6, last week - has won five of six this year with the lone loss coming at two-time defending state champion Richland Springs. The Longhorns held a double-digit second-half lead before the No. 3 Coyotes rallied for a 60-50 win.
The Longhorns are averaging 71.5 points per game and have scored at least 50 points in every game. May’s defense - which gives up 45.3 points per game - is led by Howard with 71 tackles, while Michael Turner has added 46. Pruitt has picked off six passes, while Brown has recorded three interceptions.
“We’re going to be who we are and do what we do best,” Steele said. “We’re not going to get out of character. Hopefully we’ll have a better week and Gordon doesn’t play as good as Strawn.”