Photo: Adrian Broaddus/TexasHSFootball

El Paso Montwood Head Coach Ariel Famaligi has called his team one of the most fun teams he’s coached. Fresh off a 42-35 bi-district win over Midland High, the Rams are playing confidently and are in a good state of mind heading into the area round.

“We really wanted to come out of the gates firing early and we did that,” Famaligi said. “We wanted to get our younger guys in there and we felt like the game was in hand. It wasn’t pretty but they got it done.”

El Paso Montwood quarterback Andrew Fernandez finished with six total touchdowns last week. Melynda Venegas/TexasHSFootball

The Rams will have one of their toughest games to date as they travel to Odessa to take on the Arlington High Colts on Saturday. The Colts are coming off a bi-district win over previously unbeaten Keller Fossil Ridge, their first playoff win since 2012 and the second in the last 11 years.

“This week, we want to focus on being efficient,” Famaligi continued. “We can’t afford mistakes at this point in the playoffs. They’ve got athletes over the field from left to right on film and now we have to figure out we’re going to be successful against that.”

The Colts have two talented runners in the backfield in running back Kenland McCray and quarterback D’Montae Davis. The pair have rushed for a combined 2,134 yards and 23 touchdowns on the ground and when you factor in Davis’ 1,484 yards through the air, it presents a formidable challenge for any opponent to stop.

“Now that they’re both healthy, I feel like we have as good of a 1-2 punch in Davis and McCray as anybody in the area,” Arlington Head Coach Scott Peach said.

Arlington High head coach Scott Peach calls running back Kenland McCray (2) and quarterback D’Montae Davis (7) “the best 1-2 punch in the area” in the backfield. Joseph Nguyen/TexasHSFootball

Defensively, the Rams know the difficult task they face in slowing them down but are up to the task.

“When I see those two on film, I see a lot of speed,” Montwood linebacker Everett Ruhl said. “They’re fast and strong but I’m confident that our defense can match them.”

Montwood will have some explosiveness on offense to counter of their own. Coming off a six-touchdown performance against Midland, the senior quarterback will have his usual cast of receivers to go to in Tyreese Andrus, Tury Cepeda and Edward Garibay.

El Paso Montwood LB/S Everett Ruhl Tony Venegas/TexasHSFootball

“I see a very athletic defense,” Fernandez said. “We just have to play lights out and we’re looking forward to Saturday.”

Peach knows his team will have to be ready for that explosiveness, even if it’s a departure from what they’ve seen through the regular season.

“It’s a unique offense because of how wide open it is and we haven’t seen as much of that this year,” Peach said. “If we want to win, we’ll have to be at our best defensively.”

Finally, the Rams will try to clear a hurdle never passed before in school history: A win would be the first time in program history that Montwood will have advanced to the third round. Even with those stakes, the Rams are not feeling extra pressure. Rather, they’re embracing the opportunity.

“We’re looking to make history but we have to go in with the right attitude,” Fernandez said. “We have to believe in ourselves and if we do that, I think the outcome will be in our favor at the end.”

Montwood and Arlington face off at 4 p.m. CST at Ratliff Stadium in Odessa.

Tony Venegas is an assistant editor of Texas football for TexasHSFootball, covering prep football in the El Paso region. Follow him on Twitter,@advenegas, and read more of his content here.

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