SAN ANTONIO - This week's Big Game Coverage Road Trip will take us to Natalia for the first time this season where the Mustangs will host the Poth Pirates in a district contest.
After graduating 13 seniors from a team that went 9-2 last season, Natalia is a young football team that is still learning how to close out games.
The Mustangs are 0-2 in District 15-3A-II but only lost those games by a combined 9 points.
Natalia, which has allowed 10 points per game in district play, is leaning heavily on defense to keep them in games.
"Our defense is a more veteran defense, and they've kept us in the ballgames for most of the year," head coach Ilyan Martinez said.
"They've done a really good job of carrying our football team. We have great senior leadership on our defensive squad. They've done a good job of rallying our team and keeping them together," Martinez said.
Natalia Football has some great senior leaders like @maannuel_22 and @mattc3222. Guys who lead by example. The Mustangs will host Poth Friday night. @NataliaISD @NataliaSports @Natalia_High @IlyanMartinez @KSATbgc #KSATsports pic.twitter.com/UasiLoaxYI — Larry Ramirez (@LRam2) October 25, 2018
The team's seniors are another huge reason why the Mustangs are staying in games.
"We are the most veteran group, the defense right now," senior cornerback Manny Padilla said. "I've started all four years since my freshman year up until now. We have a couple other guys who've started alongside me. We've played the same defense since seventh grade, so it's not much of a difference. It's just lining up, executing and studying all week."
"Making sure we know what's going to come once Friday night comes," he said.
What's coming for Natalia this week is a very good Poth football team, winners of five straight.
The Pirates are 2-0 in district play, outscoring those opponents 124 to 14. Natalia's defense is gearing up for its toughest test of the season.
"They are a really good football team, and what we have to do is keep working and practice and working on our tackling drills, because that's where we are kind of lacking right now," senior linebacker Matthew Contreras said. "Just a bunch of tackling and reading our keys. I'm sure once we get that done and our tackling down, we'll be able to stop them."
Game 1: Poth Pirates (6-1, 2-0 District 15-3A-II) vs. Natalia Mustangs (3-4, 0-2 District 15-3A-II) at Mustang Stadium at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Game 2: Jourdanton Indians (5-2, 2-1 District 15-3A-I) at Lytle Pirates (3-4, 1-2 District 15-3A-I) at Walter H. Joyce Jr. Stadium at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Game 3: Port Lavaca Calhoun Sandcrabs (5-1, 4-0 District 15-5A-II) vs. Somerset Bulldogs (6-1, 3-1 District 15-5A-II) at Bulldog Stadium at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
You can see the highlights Friday on the Nightbeat and at BigGameCoverage.com.
For score updates throughout the night, follow us on Twitter @KSATbgc.
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