The Pampa Harvesters (1-3) come back home Friday to celebrate homecoming against the Perryton Rangers (0-4). Perryton is always a tough matchup for the Harvesters and their record should not be an indication of how the game will go. They barely lost, 33-30, to Dalhart. They played Canyon tough in a 42-34 loss. They lost to Dumas 26-7. Canadian rolled them last week 63-13.
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. He also added something special at the end of the interview which I think will be a good read for all.
Even in a bad loss like last week, Robinson was able to find positives or things to improve upon.
“Hopefully we learned a lesson. Some of us went to Decatur and were in awe or didn’t think we had a chance. You always want to put your best foot forward when you are competing against athletes like that,” Robinson said. “Of the athletes I have been able to see compete live, guys who are playing in the NFL, or played in the Big 12 or SEC, I would say (Nate) Palmer is in the top three along with a guy who is still playing for the Cardinals and Adrian Peterson. Peterson is the most dynamic I have seen live but Palmer is up there. When you are competing against someone like that it is exciting to me. You are on the same field with them and play against them, tackle them, and compete against them and see how you do against them.”
He also talked about how Decatur is a really good football team that will be playing in the playoffs a long time this postseason. The week before they played Pampa, they played a double overtime game with another top 10 team in the state in Stephenville.
“The disappointing thing for me is we are really young and inexperienced right now. We had some big time mental mistakes like the opening kickoff. The plan was not to kick to Palmer on the opening kickoff. We have to prepare better and plan better. In the end you gotta compete and be a fighter. We made a lot of mental mistakes,” Robinson said. “There were some things when you watch film where we have spots where we are inconsistent. We have some kids do things that are really high level when you watch film but two plays later they are doing things not at a high level. We have to be consistent. We have to be able to protect. Some of those you are putting together the quarterback reading the defense and the offensive line protecting. You have to be able to get rid of the ball on time and we have to be able to protect. Some of those guys there is not a way to block them. You have to get rid of the ball or hit your checkdown and hit a hot route.There are a lot of things we have to get better at.”
Robinson talked again about the pass protection as well as running game being things the Harvesters need to improve upon.
“We have to be able to establish the run game. Your time of possession is huge. There are aspects of our offense we are not even able to use right now because of being limited personnel wise. We don’t want to get away from those aspects because we are going to be using them in a few weeks when we get our people back,” Robinson said. “Our pass protection up front has to improve in some spots. I did think Brant (Hill) did some good things in the passing game. We had Juddy (Judsen Hancock) step up. He made a few catches and got him involved. Bryce Lynn made some tough catches against a really good defensive back (Palmer’s brother #14). We did have a couple of drops.”
Despite it not going right for the Harvesters, Robinson is excited to put it in the past, learn from it, and move on to this week’s game.
“There are always positives to take from any game. We have to learn from it. This week of practice has been really tough. Those simple things like not giving up on special teams. We got some extra conditioning and reminders on how we are going to do things this week. Hopefully they sink in,” Robinson said.
On the Homecoming Atmosphere
“It’s good to be at Harvester Field. It is an awesome place to place a football game. The homecoming game is just like any other home game. Any game at Harvester Field is an awesome atmosphere. Homecoming is a little bit different. The homecoming game I always want a good football game. I want to compete our tails off on homecoming,” Robinson said. “I like rivalry games on homecoming. It’s a big game Friday. Everyone ought to be excited about it. If you can’t get up for that, something is wrong with you or you are in the wrong locker room. It’s exactly what you want a homecoming game to be.”
Perryton might be 0-4 but as Robinson will tell us, that does not mean they are a pushover team.
“Perryton is a good football team. They play extremely hard from watching their film and games. In the last two years we have played them, they fight their tail off. They schedule other teams in our district to get ready for their district. Every year they do well in their district because of that,” Robinson said.”
Robinson mentioned some key players being #14 Julian Cervantes (he plays QB and safety) as well as #4 Caden Rodriguez (he plays RB) and #3 Erik Mijares (he plays WR and corner).
“Their quarterback is a really good football player, he is a dude, #14 (Julian) Cervantes. He is really good and starts both ways. It’s exciting and should be a really good game. Also, running back #4 has some speed and receiver #3 are both short, quick and explosive players. We have to be able to keep them under wraps because they will open up other things in their offense. Robinson said. “We have to be ready for the scramble drill. We have to be ready for the quarterback run game. (Cervantes) is a really good player. He accounts for about 30 percent of their explosive plays (run over eight yards or pass over 12 yards). We have to be able to contain him.”
Robinson also talked about #10 Samuel Perez (he plays outside linebacker).
“Their outside linebacker #10 is another really good football player. He goes in the backfield some too. He is physical, comes off the edge. The defense they run is 10-1. It is all about pressure and man coverage. It is about getting after folks. He is always coming off the edge,” Robinson said.
Robinson continued to talk about how Perryton is always a good football team and they play well no matter the game situation.
“They are a good football team and they are working hard to get better. All of their games have been relatively close with the exception of Canadian. Last year, when we played them they also played Canadian in the week before. They had some players injured in that game and Canadian got after them pretty good. Then, they played lights out against us,” Robinson said. “The game that sticks out to me against Perryton is two years ago. We were in a big time dogfight in Perryton. They had a screen to an offensive lineman with two minutes left. Both teams were running trick plays left and right. We ended up winning up there. That was a great game. We also went to watch Perryton and Dumas last year on Dumas’ homecoming. It was a heckuva football game. They do a great job getting their kids motivated up there and they play hard, tough football.”
Robinson closed his thoughts regarding Perryton talking about how it is cool to play them and Borger in back-to-back weeks.
“It is kind of cool to me playing them and Borger back-to-back. I’m not saying anything is like playing Borger but it is pretty similar,” Robinson said.
Keys to the Game
1. Get the running game going.
“We have to be able to get the running game going. We should have a new face back in the backfield Friday. Isaac (Almanaza) will also be back there some, too. I thought he (Isaac) was a bright spot against Decatur. He is a young kid and that was a big situation for him. We have to be able to run the ball and take care of the football,” Robinson said.
2. Contain #14 - Julian Cervantes
“We have to be able to contain #14. That is a huge key. Every game they have been in that is a close game, he has kept them in it from running the football. They do a really good job mixing up their quarterback run. It is hard to tell when it is coming (designed quarterback runs). He’s good. We worked the dog out of scramble drill this week. Receivers on a scramble are going to do certain things. The secondary has to be aware of that. Secondary contain by your inside and outside linebackers has to work a certain way,” Robinson said. “We have worked that all week. That is definitely a key to the game because he can take over. For example, it’s second and eleven and you get some pressure on him and affect him but then he gains 30 on a scramble. You have to not let that happen. You also have to understand there will probably be a time in the game where he does get loose and not freak out about it.”
3. Protect the QB
“Their pressure in the 10-1 you have two guys coming off the edge every play. There are some things you can do to impact where they come off the edge from. It is a goal line defense every play in some ways. It is a bear front defense like the 1985 Chicago Bears. You have a nose, two threes, two fives, and they are blitzing everytime. Everyone else is playing man. So, if you put six guys over there, they will put six guys over there. In a way, that is good but they are coming at you every play. You have to be able to protect and account for those people, one of them is a really good player,” Robinson said.
Other District games
Hereford (4-0) plays at home against Plainview (4-0) in a big game. Canyon (3-1) plays host to Midland Greenwood (0-4). Randall (3-1) travels to Palo Duro (1-3). In another big game, Dumas (1-3) travels to Bushland (3-1). Borger (2-2) hosts Dalhart (4-0). The Harvesters will travel to Borger next Friday night.
More than a game
Robinson said he is excited to see the team play on Friday but he also wanted to take a few moments to talk about a team letter he does each week.
“One of the things I get to do every week is write them a team letter. I got the idea from a very successful head coach. One of the things he does is that. I thought it was the neatest thing in the world. It is like a character lesson in the form of a letter your team gets every week. Sometimes I give it to them Monday and sometimes I give it to them on gameday. I would say 90 percent of the players read them. They aren’t long. If they read them once, that is good. It is always an opportunity to plant a seed,” Robinson said.
Robinson talked about the team facing a lot of adversity this season and related it to Joseph in the Bible.
“When we started this football season, this team was very different in how they competed and practiced and worked. Their mentality had an edge about them that was competitive. We were really excited about the season. It was a cool thing to watch. Then, in one scrimmage we had two huge injuries, two of our better players on the team in Max (Neff) and Bensin (Martinez). Then, the next week we had (Hunter) Atwood, the third running back, go down and Tucker Bruce as well. That was four starters and all of those things were uncontrollable. We lost Pedro (Hernandez) as well,” Robinson said. “But, you don’t want to forget where you were at that point. Sometimes adversity can do that to you. I had a couple of seniors ask me after Pedro was injured who were visibly down. They said ‘I just don’t understand why things like that happen. We’re so excited to get to our senior season and then we have these freak injuries no one can do anything about.’”
It is hard for any athlete or coach to understand why things happen the way they do. Why do certain guys get injured who work hard all their careers?
“The players and coaches both have a hard time understanding why that is happening. It is tough. You work your tail off to get to that point. You can’t sit and dwell on it though. You just have to keep working,” Robinson said.
Robinson used the story of Joseph in Genesis to talk about perspective this week.
“The letter this week was telling them about Joseph in Genesis 37. He has all these great things going for him and he is the favorite son. His brothers turn on him and sell him into slavery. Things get better and he gets put in charge of Potiphar’s palace. It is an honor. Joseph probably thought ‘hey maybe if I do a good job I can get out (of slavery)’. Then, Potiphar’s wife steals his garment from him and accuses him of trying to sleep with her. She tells on him and frames him. So, he gets put in prison. He didn’t really do anything. He did what he was supposed to do and got put in prison because he said no. While in prison, he interprets dreams and he is able to save Egypt through the famine. The rest is history. He had a lot of bad things happen to him that were unexpected. But, in the end, God’s plan was way better than what he imagined,” Robinson said. “That is in the team letter, it is all about perspective. It’s one of those things (the letter) that is way more important than football. I do hope they read it. The team letter always kind of goes with Wednesday, we do a character lesson. That all goes together. In order for Joseph to do all of that he had to be resilient. Slavery was probably not extremely fun nor was prison. Neither were easy to endure.”
After sharing the team letter story, Robinson talked about this season far from over!
“Right now everyone in the district is 0-0. It is kind of hard to know that we could probably be 3-1 overall right now. It is one of those things that just makes you shiver a little. If some of those things (injuries) did not happen. That is what I am trying to get the kids to understand,” Robinson said. “This group really is different from the last couple of teams we have had. I love all those kids but every group of kids is different in their own way. This team can’t forget that. They have to keep going and remember that. Let’s be those guys when we get the rest of our players back. Let’s be a better version of that.”
Robinson closed with giving a little bit of injury update.
“Last week, (Jarren) Hill couldn’t play. He is not able to throw as much as he should be able to. But, he will be able to play a little bit. Bensin (Martinez) is coming back this week. Is going to play 110 snaps? I don’t know about that but it is still exciting to get him back because he changes, defensively, a lot of the things we do. There were two or three runs in the Caprock game that stand out to me where we could have used him,” Robinson said.
How to watch
The game will begin at 7 P.M. in Pampa. The Homecoming Court festivities will begin around 6:30 P.M. 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 Five is sponsored by Flogistix.
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.