Unable to pick up wins in their first two games of the season, the Whitesboro Bearcats’ schedule didn’t get any easier Friday, Sept. 11.
Whitesboro matched up with defending Class 3A Division II state champion Gunter and while some strides were made against the Tigers, the Bearcats fell 42-10 to drop to 0-3 on the season.
As positive as head coach Cody Fagan felt about his team’s performance, he knew the Tigers would be ready to play, especially coming off their first loss of the season to Pottsboro.
“They’ve got big-play potential and they’re a disciplined football team that runs their offense very well,” Fagan said. “Their kids just play really, really hard and really physical. Their kids are always in the right place and until further notice, it’s going to take a good long while for a lot of teams to catch up to the way they do things. I think our kids were preparing and doing things right, but that’s a No. 1 team in the state for a reason and they’re going to make a deep, deep run again this year.”
The Bearcats know how good Gunter is from season to season, but that didn’t deter them from wanting to play the Tigers.
The experience against a good team and the illumination of some holes in Whitesboro’s game are very valuable as the Wildcats prepare for district play.
“That’s why we keep them on the schedule every year,” Fagan said. “They’re going to be a top five team every year and we learned a lot about ourselves. Obviously we got beat, but at the same time we found out some offensive things we can do. We’ve progressed and it’s hard to see that when you get beat 42-10, but we found out we can run the ball against a really good defense.”
The Bearcats did put up a season-high 10 points and had a successful eight-minute drive to start the second half, but that possession ended in an interception.
Whitesboro threw two picks on the night, but Fagan said he thought his team improved from its turnover-laden 26-3 loss to Aubrey the week before.
“We cleaned that up,” Fagan said. “Last week we had five fumbles and we didn’t have any this week. We protected the football much better and the kids took that to heart. Even the two interceptions is too much though so we’ve got to clean that up and have no turnovers. We’re not killing ourselves in all areas, but we’ve got to play perfect in that area.”
While the score was lopsided, Fagan boiled the game down to a few key moments that went against Whitesboro.
“Just like in any game, there are three or four plays that make the difference and you could pinpoint those plays pretty easy in this game,” Fagan said. “We gave up three long passes on 3rd-and-long, but at the same time, our kids never gave up or stopped fighting. We blocked a punt late and did some good things, but I don’t know that we’ll play a team that good for the next few weeks.”
Fagan said Friday’s match was the best the Bearcats have played this season and that he was excited about several facets of their game, particularly their defense.
They also received a key blocked punt from Sterling Gartin that gave the Bearcats some life and led to their first and only touchdown of the game.
Whitesboro will have a bye week this week before picking back up Friday, Sept. 25, against Ponder.
In the meantime, the Bearcats will be emphasizing the need to improve their red zone offense.
“I think the bye week hits perfect for us as far as getting guys healthy before district play,” Fagan said. “Hopefully we can get on a roll here early in district and treat it like a new season. We’ve made progress each and every week and Ponder is a good football team that’s won a couple games. They were a lot like us this time last year. We’ve just got to not worry about chasing that win necessarily. We need to chase greatness each and every day and each and every play.”