The Amarillo Tascosa Rebels are off to one of a 4-0 start and are coming off of a big win against arch-rival Amarillo High. As the team enters District 2-6A play on Friday, how will the Rebels fare and what will be the keys to their success?
TexasHSFootball.com spoke with head coach Ken Plunk earlier this week as the Rebels prepare to face Odessa High on Friday.
TexasHSFootball.com: You’re off to a 4-0 start this season. What has been the biggest key to getting off to such a strong start?
Ken Plunk: We’ve been really consistent so far, particularly on offense. We haven’t turned the ball over much and we’re generally a good defensive football team. It’s helped us get off to a good start.
TexasHSFootball.com: You’re coming off of a big win against your rival in Amarillo High. It’s always a big game and coming off of a win like that, what does it do for the team moving forward?
Ken Plunk: I definitely hope it builds our confidence. You always get nervous after a winning a game of that magnitude. Certainly, you’re excited about winning it. Some of our better teams in the past have had trouble in that game and didn’t come away with the victory.
We’re worried just because we start district play this week. These are the games that count and you want to make sure that you’re ready for it. It was a lot of fun to win but now we have to worry about Odessa High.
TexasHSFootball.com: As you get set to start district play, things are already looking tough. Your team is one of four undefeated teams (Odessa Permian, Midland Lee, San Angelo Central) in 2-6A and also going up against an improved Odessa High team on Friday. What’s the message to your team as you navigate a tough district?
Ken Plunk: There’s no doubt it’s a tough district. All these games are important and on any given night you have a chance to get beat. You have to make sure that you’re prepared each week. I feel calm this week knowing that we don’t have to travel and don’t have to worry about that aspect.
As for Odessa High, they’re a much-improved team and I think that they’re a contender for a playoff spot. When you’re facing another contender, you just have to find a way to get those wins in case you end up in a tiebreaker situation. We just try to take it week-by-week.
TexasHSFootball.com: With the way District 2-6A is set up, your team is the odd one out when it comes to distance and travel. How do you handle the situation with your team where you have to travel seemingly every other week to play a game?
Ken Plunk: At this point, we’re pretty well acclimated to it. It’s something that we don’t worry about too much. We do have a good plan on how we travel and I don’t think it has too much of a negative effect. It does wear on you as the year goes on but we don’t make a big deal about it.
TexasHSFootball.com: This is a Tascosa team that has run the triple option offense for years and looking at the numbers, you have quite a few players that you can count on to handle the football. In general, what is it about your offense that makes it so successful?
Ken Plunk: The main thing is that we have a lot of guys that we have faith in. There are a number of the guys on the stat sheets and it’s not that we try to do that; it’s just the way that we practice. We give quite a few players reps during practice and during the game and we stay fairly fresh by doing that.
We do some other things as well. At this point, we do have to get better throwing the football and get our play-action game going better than where it is right now.
TexasHSFootball.com: Two of your top runners this season have been quarterback Connor McAnaul and running back King Doerue. What have they done so far to stand out?
Ken Plunk: They’re both good athletes. In fact, I would say King is an outstanding athlete. Connor is a good athlete but he’s executing the offense really well right now. He’s taking what the defense gives him and operating our offense. As long as he does that at quarterback, we’ll have a chance to be successful.
TexasHSFootball.com: Looking ahead to the matchup with Odessa High, what will be the biggest key to come out on top?
Ken Plunk: We’re focusing more on ourselves. We have to get better. They’ve done some good things and they’re a ball-control offense and so we’ll have to plan for that. We don’t 100 percent know what they’ll do defensively just because they haven’t played an offense that’s similar to ours.
Like I said, we’re just focused on what we do and we’re ready to get back to work. We’ll get better fundamentally and we’ll learn to run our offense on multiple fronts just like Odessa High runs.
TexasHSFootball.com: I know the team is off to a great start and already in the Top 20 in Class 6A in the state (No . 13 AP). In your mind, how far do you think this team can go and what will it take to get there?
Ken Plunk: It’s hard to say right now. We’ve at least made to the second round the last three times in the playoffs and made it to the third round in one of those years. I think we have a team that’s every bit as good as the team that went three rounds deep and maybe even better.
But, we have to get there first and not get ahead of ourselves. If we continue to improve over these next six weeks, then we can make a run. If we stagnate and don’t do what need to do from a preparation standpoint, we won’t be very good.
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