The Jourdanton Indians have reached the third round of the Texas high school football playoffs for the first time since 1985.
To do so, the Indians (11-1) had to navigate injuries in a 42-28 win over the Edna Cowboys at Indian Stadium on Saturday night. The moment was almost indescribably sweet for Head Coach and Jourdanton alum Darrell Andrus. He was in grade school the last time Jourdanton reached the third round.
“I would say it’s about as good a feeling as you could have,” Andrus said. “That’s a heck of a ballclub over there [at Edna]. I’ve known Jimmie Mitchell a long time. I look up to him. … To get a win like we did here tonight was special for us.”
The Indians set a blistering pace in the first half, scoring on passes of 35 and 59 yards from Cole Andrus to Payton Gonzales and Colton Schuchart on their opening two possessions. They ran just eight plays to take a 14-0 lead in the first frame. Andrus finished the game 25-of-39 passing for 394 yards and four touchdowns.
“We lost to them two years ago and these kids have kind of had that chalked up in the back of their mind this week,” coach Andrus said. “[They] just came out on fire, man. We were clicking on all cylinders.”
Gonzales would add a second touchdown to his total on a 9-yard reverse in the second quarter, while the Indians rattled off 21 unanswered points to take a 35-6 lead at halftime. Jourdanton outgained Edna in total yards 350-74 at halftime.
Setting that pace was crucial for the Indians looking to knock a young Edna team out of rhythm early.
“It was very big that other players and I could step up and execute the plays and make sure we were running on all cylinders,” Gonzales said. He would finish the game with 62 total yards of offense in addition to his two touchdowns.
Jourdanton’s defense, in addition to just six points allowed at halftime, had one interception from Justin Ledesma and forced six three-and-outs on the night. That’s where Jourdanton set the tone for Saturday night’s game.
“We had a great week of practice and our defense is taught to play with a lot of tenacity,” Gonzales added. “That’s what we did. We came out strong and hit them in the mouth.”
But Jourdanton had to battle injuries in the physical game. Senior running back Aidan Borth left the game just before halftime. Sophomore Juan Lerma stepped up to deliver 78 yards rushing and a touchdown on 13 carries.
That next-man-up mentality is something that helped carry the Indians to the win, despite being outscored 22-7 in the second half.
“It affected us a little bit, but we knew we had to adjust to it,” said QB Andrus, who was dealing with a lingering foot injury from their bi-district win over Comfort. “But now that we’ve got another week to recover and get back to 100%, we’ll be ready for Llano.”
The senior signal caller said the next couple of days of preparation for the third round will determine who wins the regional semifinal.
“That’s what’s going to determine the outcome of this next game,” Andrus added. “We know we can’t take them lightly. We’re going to prepare the best we can.”
The Indians and No. 7-ranked Llano (11-0) will meet at Cedar Park’s Gupton Stadium on Friday, Nov. 27, at 6 p.m. On Thanksgiving week, playing playoff football narrowly trumps holiday hunting in south Texas.
“In south Texas when you’re still coaching football and not able to deer hunt [on Thanksgiving], you’re feeling pretty good about things,” coach Andrus joked.