Rebel Varsity Football Team Reaches State Playoff Tournament Back to Back Seasons

Aidan Martinez , Sports editor

After the 2017-2018 Rebels varsity football season, the community was left with many questions. Former head coach and Hays High School Athletic Director,Neal LaHue announced his retirement in January and headed to Seguin to be the assistant coach at Texas Lutheran University. With the loss of defensive coordinator Julius Scott, defensive line coach Garry Gady, and coaches Mitch Phillips, Joel Hinton, Terry Bonner and James Howard the program was going through an uncontrolled spiral.

“At first I was concerned because of the uncertainty for the changes. However once we met the new coaches we were reassured knowing they were fully committed to our program,” Xavier Martinez, 12, said.

With a talented 2019 and 2018 class the coaching change led to several players departures. Thailand Mayberry, brother of former Hays Rebel running back Taven Mayberry, headed to Vista Ridge High School after taking home a first team all district running back award the previous season. Along with Thailand Mayberry junior and athlete Desmond Young left as well and is now the starting quarterback at Bastrop High School. With two pieces gone and the graduation of four of five starting lineman, the offense looked to struggle early in the year.

Running back Xavier Green, 11, realized he needed to step up while filling in Thailand Mayberry’s shoes.

“I was thinking about what I had to do to put my team in the best situation and play a team role. Whether that means I have to be the best blocker or leading rusher I knew I had to stand out,” Green said.

Green said he’s learned a lot from players and teammates who have helped him do his role on the field. “Thailand was a great running back. I learned a lot from him. At the beginning of the season I knew if I gave it my all every snap God would help me fulfill my goal for rushing for over 1000 yards,” he said.

The new offense has worked well for the Hays Rebels as they averaged 37 points per game throughout the season. The offensive line has proven themselves as they work the trenches giving their Quarterback Xavier Martinez and running backs plenty of time to run their plays.

“Since being the only returning offensive lineman I felt I had to become more of a leader. I knew that the guys who were going to fill in the spots and I trust them one hundred percent,” Brandon Garcia, 12, said.

The offensive line needed to step up after a new coaching and offensive playbook change.

“We began learning the new offense in the spring. This offensive line is not as passive as others have been in years past. With the quick and hard to track plays we learn I feel more like a defensive lineman. Our team is stronger faster and more agile than the players who played before us,” Noah Hernandez, 12, said.

Throughout the year both the offense and defense have stepped up when needed the most. Rebel varsity football team was looking for revenge after a heartbreaking loss to Dripping Springs high school in the 2017 season. As the Rebel football team got off to a hot start the Dripping Springs Tigers made an unforgettable comeback that was foreshadowed by a game saving block from the defense giving the Rebel varsity football team a 35-34 win.

“The win was a huge boost. It was our first real test of our talent. After the game everyone was more confident and comfortable, Aiden Fitzgerald, 12, said. The Rebel varsity football team would ride this win to a 7-0 start defeating Anderson High School, Bowie High School on a game-saving play from defensive back Jaidon Bialaszewski who stopped Bowie receiver Jackson Lord at the Rebels one yard line as time expired. The Rebels varsity football team would also defeat Akins High School, Austin High, and cross town rival Lehman High School while scoring at least 48 points in all three games.

The Rebel varsity football team would then run into trouble with powerhouse and 25-6A district champion Westlake High School and six time State Champions Lake Travis High School. The Rebel Varsity football would suffer their first two losses of the season and ultimately finishing third in district play. While in this tough situation starting quarterback and three year letterman Xavier Martinez would remind the team to focus. “In tough situations I remind the team that we have to focus on our own game and only take it one play at a time. In better times, I remind the team to stay humbled and remember where our success comes from,” Xavier Martinez, 12, said.  

The Rebel varsity football team would then finish district play with a win over Del Valle High School while earning third place in the district and a playoff spot in Region Four in the Division one Texas State Playoff Tournament.

“The season has given us confidence in knowing that we are a good team. We had a few hiccups but we are still confident,” The Rebel Varsity football team will enter their bi-district playoff game against Judson High School and will play in Converse Texas on November 16th at 7:30 P.M.

“Our goal is to win the next one. It is very important for our defense to stay calm and I believe we will be fine. We see this as just another game. We understand the win or go home circumstance, but the mindset we have is that it is just another game. We have to go to work, we aren’t afraid,” Michael Mireles, 12, said.

The Rebel varsity has changed to culture of the program. With an 8-2 record the Rebel varsity football team will begin the road to creating their own history like great teams before them.

“As a team we think it’s of utmost importance to go out and do our best to win games. We play for each other and we strive to set a standard for next years’ teams,” Martinez said.