Houston–The coaches of both Friendswood (12-1) and Montgomery (12-1) know that in order to advance to the state playoffs, they must look to place a check on the players in their opponent’s backfield.
“[Leroy Dobbins] is one of the best running backs we’ve seen,” Van Meter said.
Likewise, Montgomery head coach John Bolfing knows that if he wants his Bears to advance, they must stop Friendswood quarterback Pete Maetzold and running back Johnathan Johnson in the UIL 4A Division I Region III championship game at Rice Stadium on Saturday at 7 pm in Houston.
“He’s a very tough kid,” said Bolfing of Johnson. “He does as much blocking as he does catching the ball or carrying the ball.
“He’s like our kid Leroy–very versatile.”
Johnson, who only had 2 yards on 2 carries in the Mustangs 35-13 win over Humble before leaving with what appeared to be a concussion, has 1,357 yards this season and 14 TD’s. He helps keep the defense honest when they focus too much on the passing game.
When the passing game is working Maetzoid can beat teams with both his arms and, if he has to, his legs. Last Saturday, Maetzold ran for 129 yards and a touchdown against Humble, his second 100 yard rushing game of the season. On the season, he is 244/389 (62.7% completion percentage) for 3,127 yards passing and has 483 yards rushing (including yards lost on sacks).
“They execute very well and play hard,” Bolfing said. “They remind me of us where while there is not a lot of Division I talent on the field, it’s a whole bunch of kids who play hard, intelligent and get after it.”
Maetzold leads a Friendswood offense which averages 38.8 points per game and one that has scored 505 points per game. They scored 40 points per game in a brutally tough District 24-4A that has three of the four combined remaining teams in the 4A Region III Finals (Divisions I and II), not including a non-playoff 7-3 Santa Fe team that handed Friendswood it’s only loss.
Meanwhile, Dobbins of Montgomery has ran for 1,807 yards rushing and 28 touchdowns this season. He is among the more elusive backs in the Houston area, one that raised concern from Van Meter.
“We’re gonna have to limit his production,” said Friendswood coach Steve Van Meter. “If he goes off on us for 300-something yards, we’re gonna have some issues.”
Montgomery runs a very balanced offense that prides itself on giving the opponent multiple looks, ranging from formations with no running backs or ones with as high as three backs in special scenarios.
The Bears also pride themselves on being efficient and not making mistakes. Quarterback Tyler Bolfing, the son of Coach Bolfing, went 101/177 (56.8%) during the regular season with only 3 interceptions and a 109 passer rating. The only time he played poorly this season was in a 31-26 loss to state ranked district rival Brenham on October 15, when he went 8/23 for 136 yards and a passer rating of 52.
“Sometimes we’ll lean heavily one way or the other but generally we’re pretty balanced,” the elder Bolfing said.
Both coaches agreed that the game will also likely come down to making the most of the opportunities given to them and not offering them to the other team.
“You’ve got to take care of the football and not give them opportunities because if you do, they’re gonna make you pay,” said Bolfing.
Van Meter felt his team needed to execute on offense and take what the Montgomery defense gives them.
“They can’t defend everything we do so we’re gonna have to take advantage of what they do defensively,” said Van Meter.
Friendswood is making their third straight appearance in the regional final while Montgomery is making their first trip to the regional final since moving up to Class 4A.