Off to a 1-2 start this season, the Calallen Wildcats find themselves in unfamiliar territory headed into Friday nightís matchup against the Alice Coyotes, as possible underdogs. Coming off a loss to Rio Grande Valley Class 5A program Los Fresnos last weekend and a loss in their season opener against perhaps the Valleyís best 4A program Edcouch-Elsa, itís very well could be the Coyotes who are the favorites in their upcoming clash.
Alice (3-0) is off to one of their best starts in recent years and is ranked No. 2 in local media polls, while another District 31-4A team, the Tuloso-Midway Warriors, is ranked No. 5 also with a 3-0 record.
Usually itís the other way around with the Wildcats atop the poll, but this time around itís the Wildcats clawing to get back into the top spot in an early district matchup that could set the pace in the title chase.
The Wildcats have uncharacteristically been having trouble holding on to the ball and look to improve on their miscues against Alice.
"We just havenít been consistent with our execution, and because of injuries, we havenít had any continuity," Calallen head coach Phil Danaher said. "That stuff makes a big difference and itíll cause you to turn the ball over."
Alice has big wins over Mission Veteranís Memorial, Scotts Valley (Calif.) High and Corpus Christi Ray.
After their season opening loss against Edcouch-Elsa, in which the Wildcats didnít score an offensive touchdown, they held on for a big 21-15 win over rival Gregory-Portland. That followed with their loss last weekend to Los Fresnos.
However, in those losses, the Wildcats have also had to deal with some adversity in the form of injuries.
"Weíre having to rob Peter to pay Paul. Like in that first game against Edcouch, (Bryden) McClure went down hurt," Danaher said. "Then, we had to use our second string running back and then move a receiver to safety to cover for McClure there."
And the shuffling continued.
"Our second string started cramping, and by the time we knew it, we had our fourth-string running back in. When you have your quarterback handing off to different people every time and your receivers are having to play defense, it ruins all of your timing."
"Itís (the losses) really a combination of things, but weíre just not playing well," Danaher said. "Itís not something we canít work on and fix. The kids are playing hard, and I know theyíre frustrated."
While itís still early, a loss to the Coyotes could make the Wildcats feel† pressure that they havenít felt in quite some time.
Pete Garcia contributed to this story.