SAN ANTONIO — This Friday night, the O’Connor Panthers are looking to continue their collision course with destiny as an undefeated. But the hurdle coming from across town isn’t a small one.
The Jay Mustangs (5-2, 1-1) lost their first game last week against Warren. But the balanced offense has remained solid, scoring at least 33 points in every game, except for one.
O’Connor (7-0, 4-0) coach David Malesky is set with the task of planning for the Mustangs. Both facets of the Jay offense is averaging more than 220 yards a game.
As coach Malesky will tell you, though, the first step to stopping the Mustangs is stopping running back Jaylin Hastings.
Hastings, who has 1,255 rushing yards, along with 10 touchdowns on the year.
“That guys a really good player and everything kind of operates through him in regards to if you’re able to limit their run game and then they’ll get more in their throwing game,” the veteran coach said. “But then you turn right around and they got a quarterback and that guy is extremely talented with his arm and also with his legs.”
Thankfully, the game is at home, which will bring a lot of noise and chatter for the crosstown rivalry. But fans need not worry, as Malesky’s Panthers might thrive in this kind of atmosphere.
“It’s a blessing that our community supports O’Connor High School,” Malesky said. “We’re generally going to have more people than anyone else. That helps in whoever we’re playing.
“How does the noise affect us? I don’t think it affects anything, it just encourages us.”
Offensively, O’Connor has plenty of threats to run the ball. Meaning one can have an off night, as the team has five players with at least 100 yards on the season.
But a car can’t go without its driver. That’s where senior Roel Sanchez comes into play.
“The better game he has, the better he makes people around him,” Malesky said of his signal-caller. “I think it’s also going to be imperitive up front with the offensive line. I think those guys having a great game are going to help open up some things for us.”
Although both teams definitely have threats on the offensive side, both are quite fierce on defense.
Jay (79 papg) and O’Connor (58 papg) are as stout as anyone, but O’Connor won’t be basing its gameplan off that alone. Instead, Jay’s strengths and weaknesses in many different situations are what the Panthers look at.
“There’s a few things that we hang our hat on. We’re going to do it, regardless of what you’re in and we’re going to try to run those things,” Malesky said. But he also knows that it won’t always work out that way.
“There’s never a time where you can just say we’re going to do this, or we’re going to do that. You’ve got to be able to adjust according to what you see week in and week out, you’ve got to be able to adjust every play.”
Gametime is at 7:30 Friday at Dub Farris Athletic Complex.
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