The Pampa Harvesters (1-2) will hit the road Friday night down U.S. Highway 287 to travel to Decatur. The Eagles (0-3) are an outstanding football team, despite what the record shows.
I did not have the updated Padilla Poll before press time for this article. All three of Decatur’s opponents have been state ranked. Decatur was ranked #11 themselves in last week’s poll.
As we will do all season, I sat down with head coach Cody Robinson to reflect on last week’s game and preview the matchup for this week.
Robinson was really proud of the effort from the Harvesters.
“I was proud of our kids. We played a school with 2100 kids in it. We should have beat them. We had the game right there. With a 7-0 lead, we have to be able to run the ball, period,” Robinson said. “We are on running back #4. Our whole offense revolves around being able to run the football. When we are not able to run the football, there are things in our offense that aren’t as good. That is definitely a focus going forward. Hopefully in a few weeks that will look different with a couple of our running backs back. Right now, without our top three running backs and our best offensive lineman, that’s been a struggle.”
Caprock rushed 40 times for 210 yards, 78 of which came on one play.
“Our kids played hard the entire game. That whole play was the weakside linebacker was lined up incorrectly and took two incorrect steps and boom out the gate he went. I thought our defense played much better minus the big explosive play,” Robinson said. “Our kids played extremely hard. We had three sophomore bonehead mistakes in the second half and a call that didn’t go our way. That’s football. You can either lay down in the fetal position and suck your thumb and quit or keep on playing, keep on competing, and prepare better and practice better. That’s what we are doing.”
Robinson added the loss can be summed up as part of the game of football.
“I don’t think it was a result of getting tired. They made 2-3 more plays than us in the second half. It wasn’t because of coaching adjustments or anything else. It is just how football goes,” Robinson said.
Decatur is a good football team. Pampa played the Eagles twice last year. One game was at home and the other was in the playoffs at Vernon.
“Decatur has been Decatur football for a long time. Decatur and Dumas have faced off in the second or third round of the playoffs many times. Pampa played Decatur in (I want to say 2019). It is always a team we are going to match up with,” Robinson said.
There is one thing that makes this team different Robinson mentioned and that is #7 Nate Palmer.
“The difference in this Decatur team is #7 Nate Palmer, running back. He’s a really good and special player. He is a special athlete but he is also human. Our kids can’t look at him and be in awe. Other than that, they are just Decatur, a good football team,” Robinson said. “They have another running back, #8 Abram Graham, he is a junior. We saw him in the playoff game. He is a short, stocky kid that runs extremely hard. They are going to be good.”
Robinson also mentioned #14 Antwan Gilbreath, a wide receiver who is really good.
“I don’t know if he is 100% healthy but either way he is still really good,” Robinson said. “They have several guys that are really good. Last year, they had two outside linebackers that were really dynamic. They had a defensive end who was extremely dynamic. This year, they are still a really good football team.”
#32 Wyatt Vinzant is another player to watch according to Robinson.
“He plays inside linebacker. He is a really good player as well. They are a good football team,” Robinson said.
The three losses have been to Stephenville, Anna, and Wichita Falls Rider.
“Those are all top programs in the state. They are going to be a good football team, they are just a little bit different,” Robinson said. “The thing that makes them special is #7. He is different from what most Decatur teams have. His dad is a coach there. Coach Lane (the old coach at Decatur) is who we scheduled the game with. Coach Huff, who was down at College Station, did a really good job there. He got the Decatur job and made one of the best hires in the state in the coaching world when he hired Nate Palmer’s dad to coach there.”
Robinson went on to talk about stopping Palmer on the ground.
“You gotta play the game. Last year, Palmer made two really good plays in the first game against them. It was an inside run and then a pass out of the backfield. Coaching is really simple in those regards when you watch them on film,” Robinson said. “They line up in a simple formation, and trot him (Palmer) out of the backfield before the snap, and after the ball is snapped they just chuck it out there to him (Palmer) and let an athlete be great in space. We have to stop him. We gotta be great open field tacklers and we have got to get our run game going.”
The style of play they run on offense is the spread.
“There will be some 20-personnel situations. This year, they probably run a little more 10-personnel formations. They will spread you out. They will get in some different looks with bunching up receivers and things like that. As far as their scheme goes, it is not really special but they are really good at what they do,” Robinson said. “They’ve got some read game and some RPO (run-pass option) game where they get you out in space. They look at your box. If they hand the ball to #7 and your run-fitter is outside playing the run, and he can’t get back in, that was one of the long touchdowns we gave up last year. It’s a good scheme but it’s not anything super fancy.”
On defense, the Eagles give a few different looks to teams.
“They will be an odd front sometimes, they will move down to bear front some. Bear front gives you problems sometimes because it is basically a lot of one-on-one matchups. They will also move to a four-down. That is a little bit different. Last year when we played them they had done a little bit of that but they were mostly 3-4. There are some things in how they align to certain formations on defense that give you a little bit of advantage. Still, what they do is sound,” Robinson said. “We have to be able to identify fronts with your offensive lineman. They have to tell the difference in what they have (the defense) and sometimes with a 16-year-old kid that is difficult because those kids are having to identify three different things quickly.
Keys to the Game
As one might already tell from what we have discussed so far, the biggest keys to this game for the Harvesters are to establish the run on the offensive end and slow down #7 on the defensive end.
Palmer is a special athlete who already has 37 offers from Division 1 programs. He made a verbal commitment to Texas Christian University (TCU) on June 16 this past summer. If Pampa can slow him down, they have a real shot at taking the win.
Robinson talked a little bit about the quarterback situation as well as the running game situation.
“We are in a peculiar spot. Right now, we have two quarterbacks where neither one has seized the quarterback position. No one has come up to the coaching staff and the team and slapped them in the face and said ‘I’m the quarterback.’ Neither one has made it obvious,” Robinson said. “Both of them have things they can bring to the table. One of them is two years older (Brant Hill). He should have a better understanding of the offense. The younger one (Jarren Hill) brings a different dynamic and different attitude to the offense.”
The offensive packages Pampa likes to run revolve around the running game.
“Our offensive packages and identity revolve around the run. Anyone can throw 50 times a game but if you can’t run the ball, you’re not going to be very good. In some situations as coaches with Max (Neff), Bensin (Martinez), and Hunter Atwood out, putting us at running back #4,5 and 6, some coaches would start reaching for straws. They would do things that kind of aren’t you. We aren’t going to do that. We have to get our guys up front better at running the ball,” Robinson said. “We are missing Tucker (Bruce) and those three running backs. We could come out and throw the ball 50 times a game. That’s great. But, one that is not us. Two, it is really easy to defend. When we do get those guys back in 2-3 weeks, who are we going to be?”
Robinson continued by talking about how Pampa just needs to keep doing what they are doing and just continuing to get better each practice and game.
“We just have to keep doing what we do. There are a few different looks this week we have worked on to help us run the ball. We have a couple of different looks on our wide zone and then a couple of plays off of that wide zone which I think will be really good plays for us in the future,” Robinson said. “Depending on the quarterback, we have some quarterback run game that will maybe help us get going. We have a couple of personnel packages that might help us get going. But, right now, you don’t want to get in panic mode and start being who you are not because that is not going to help you later down the road.”
Other District games
Hereford (3-0) plays at Dick Bivins Stadium at Tascosa (1-2). Dumas (1-2) plays at Plainview (3-0). Canyon (2-1) plays at Dick Bivins Stadium on Thursday at Caprock (1-2). Randall (2-1) plays at Wichita Falls Old High (0-3).
Next week’s opponent, Perryton (0-3) plays at home against Canadian (3-0). Rival Borger (2-1) plays at Bushland (2-1).
How to watch
The game will begin at 7 P.M. in Decatur. The Harvester football team will always love and appreciate those who come on out and show their support, whether home or away.
The game will be broadcast on Harvester Sports Network on YouTube. You can subscribe to get live game notices. Week Four is sponsored by Verona Italian Bistro.
Kevin and Michael Hunt will have the radio play-by-play call on 103.3 KDRL FM and 1230 KGRO AM. Their feed is also piped into the YouTube broadcast. The pre-game show will begin at 6:30 P.M.
Follow Harvester Sports Network on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. You can also follow Kevin and Michael Hunt on Facebook at Baldy Brothers Broadcasting.
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