Eye an unbeaten non-district start before bye week
Robert E. Lee head football coach Tim Finn says it’s all about taking things one step, one goal at a time.
So far, that has helped him in his third year of rebuilding the Ganders program as they went from 1-8 to 4-6 in his first two seasons at the helm and has seen REL blow out to a 2-0 start this season.
Next, the Ganders aim to reach a first goal for 2019: Finish non-district play unbeaten at 3-0 before the bye week and ensuing District 12-5A DII play.
REL plays host to Galena Park 7 p.m. tonight at Stallworth Stadium.
“More than getting 3-0 is to play our best game of the year to this point,” Finn said. “That’s our whole goal: To improve each week. It’s to worry about us and do the things we’re supposed to do and the win-loss thing should take care of itself.
“One of our offseason goals was to have an unbeaten, non-district schedule. Our goals come in stages. You can’t have all your goals matched at one time.”
Last year, REL went 2-1 in non-district play – including a 15-9 win at Galena Park.
The hope is this year will be less dramatic behind the hot starts of quarterback Ijenea Wooley (442 yards passing, eight touchdowns and no picks), Keke Davis (11 carries, 157 yards, three touchdowns), receivers Trudell Berry and Adrian Boston (four catches each) and a frenetic defense that pushes the attack to the whistles.
“We wanted to improve ourselves this year and we’ve set ourselves to meet one of our initial goals coming into the season,” Finn said. “I don’t care what level of football you are playing, but when you are going to have a bit of a layoff, it’s always good to go into it with a good taste in your mouth. It’s important to have a terrific mindset coming out of your non-district schedule.”
Galena Park (1-1) will be salty and ready to make this contest contentious after a 52-7 loss to Dayton a week ago, according to Finn.
“You want to get on them early and have things go your way,” Finn said. “We’ve jumped on two opponents and there is going to be a game where that doesn’t go your way. They are going to be an angry team after having a very good first week winning convincingly over Pasadena. They were feeling good about themselves and Dayton hit them in the mouth.
“Galena Park is a very competitive and tough group and they aren’t going to take that loss well. They will be fired up and ready to play. Last year we had 15 possessions and nine were three-and-outs.”
REL rolled past Splendora 75-35 last week and it was a game marked by a 62-point first half sparked by a tone-setting defense and a machine-like offensive performance.
“Both teams walked out on the field thinking they were going to win the game,” Finn said. “That was a first half of football where almost everything went right for us.”
The players are keeping last week’s performance in perspective.
“We just can’t get our heads too pumped up,” junior linebacker Edgar Pulido said. “We have to keep moving and show that we have arrived. Last week was a great game, but we have to keep doing it every week and not get too comfortable.”
Junior linebacker Danavious Hill was part of a defensive effort that scored two touchdowns – including his own pick six – and a safety.
“It was an important win,” Hill said. “We were mentally prepared for the game and stayed focused and didn’t get our heads all blown up.”