To be the best, you have to beat the best.
The Jourdanton Indians did that with a dominant 35-14 win over the Marion Bulldogs, who have won back-to-back district championships. The Indians led by as many as 35 points with three minutes left in the fourth quarter.
“I felt like the boys played as well as we’ve played all year, defensively,” head coach Darrell Andrus said. “It’s one of those deals where, in a game where they’re back-to-back reigning district champs, we’re trying to come in and beat them and take that from them. When you can look up at the board and see 35-0, you feel pretty good. I’m not at all worried about how we looked because they’re a … dang good football team.”
It didn’t come easy for the Indians, who only led 7-0 at halftime. In their four first-half possessions, the Indians picked up just 124 yards, punted twice and turned the ball over on downs once. Junior quarterback Cole Andrus was just 6-of-9 passing for 70 yards and a touchdown through the first half.
“They’re a very good, strong, powerful defense,” the 6-foot-3 quarterback said. “We just had to get used to it. They were really fast and physical. Nothing like I’ve seen in a while.”
Marion’s defense was giving the Indians all they could handle.
“They played really good. We couldn’t get any rhythm,” coach Andrus said. “It was one of those deals where I felt, if we could feel them out, we could eventually break a few.”
Jourdanton did “break a few” in their third possession. After being pinned at their own 1-yard line, Andrus hit his number one receiver, Jarel Lilly for 35 yards and some breathing room inside the final minute of the first quarter.
During the same drive, the two would connect on a 12-yard touchdown pass to open the scoring with 10:34 left in the first half. That capped off the 11-play, 99-yard drive and gave the Indians a beat to march to.
“That’s that spark. You’re looking for that in any sport you play,” coach Andrus said of the 35-yard pass. “Those kids have been doing it since sixth grade. If we get one-on-one matchups, we’re gonna try to throw it up a couple times to Jarel and just let him be Jarel. I swear he knows where that ball is going to be prior to the ball going in the air. They’re very fluid with that. We missed Jake [Reyna] a couple of times and a couple other things in the pass game I wasn’t pleased with. But, you’ve gotta credit Marion. Their blitz packages were good, their front four played well. I thought our line blocked great in the running game.”
The second half was a different story. Jourdanton, after just 131 yards of total offense in the first half, got the wheels moving and posted 226 yards of offense in the second half.
Aidan Borth picked up 87 of Jourdanton’s 230 rushing yards to go with two touchdowns and Andrus showcased his ability to run with 66 yards and a score on 12 carries.
The defense kept their momentum throughout the game, allowing 146 yards in the first half and 173 in the second. They forced Marion to turn the ball over twice and a Bulldog team known for a run-oriented offense was forced to pass more than usual — 17 times to be exact. It was also the fifth consecutive game where the Indians held opponents under 20 points.
Having a stout defense is what Andrus feels will guide Jourdanton to a possible district title.
“I think that’s how you win district championships and then some, is having a great, sound defense,” Andrus said. “We’ve replaced some really good linebackers and these kids are really coming into their own. I think it’s one of those deals where we need to keep building on it.”
The win pushes Jourdanton to 6-0 for the first time since 2011, the last time they won a district championship. Andrus feels this team can meet those expectations, so long as they stay focused on the goal.
“What I really like about them is how together they are. You can see the community support,” coach Andrus said. “Just a great win to build on. We’re 6-0 for the first time in a long time and [we have] a chance to do something special.”
Jourdanton (6-0, 2-0) will travel to Cotulla (6-1, 2-1) on Friday, Oct. 18.