Teams to watch: Giddings

Photo by Russell Wilburn

After knocking off Rockdale, the defending Class 3A Division I state champion, in the season opener, Giddings made a statement last Friday night with a blowout win over Wimberley to improve to 2-0 with a pair of quality victories right out of the gate. 

By defeating the Texans in dominant fashion 63-13, the Buffaloes avenged last season’s Week 2 loss to Wimberley while also sending a message to the rest of Class 4A Division II under first-year coach Wade Griffin. 

Giddings surged to No. 6 in the latest DCTF 4A DII rankings after being unranked a week ago and will now take on Taylor at 7:30 p.m. Friday night with a chance to start the season 3-0 for the first time since 2015. 

“It gives you a lot of confidence,” Griffin said. “If you look at our schedule, everybody we play is really, really good. So, for us to play two really good teams and start feeling good about what we’re doing is big. It really did make us feel like we could play with anybody.”

Griffin, who spent the last four years at Class 5A Brewer, was hired to at Giddings in the spring when former coach Chris Jones took over at Pecos. 

After working through some jitters and first-game mistakes in a sloppy first outing against Rockdale, Griffin said the Buffaloes looked much more polished and comfortable in the team’s new offensive and defensive systems against Wimberley. 

“When I first got here, there were some questions because we had a bunch of new players and a whole new staff was coming in,” Griffin said. “They were all kind of feeling each other out. But the kids have really done a great job of just buying in and doing everything we’ve asked them to do. 

“The community support right now is just unbelievable. Giddings is a special place – they love football. Everyone is fired up to be a Buffalo right now.”

Giddings finished without a turnover against the Texans and was able to impose its will running the ball all over the Wimberley defense. Running back Ja’Darius Johnson, listed at 6’1, 230 pounds, upped his production on the season to 45 carries for 300 yards and two touchdowns to lead the way for the Buffaloes’ offense. 

Quarterback Alex De La Torre has completed six passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns – both to Jaylon Joiner – through two games and also has 15 carries for 88 yards and two scores. Chad Adams (nine carries, 64 yards, three TDs), Bryan Zoch (four carries, 81 yards, two TDs), and Daven Birnbaum (nine carries, 62 yards) have also contributed on the ground.

“Our philosophy is we want to run the ball and if we can pound the ball with our big backs and make people commit multiple safeties and get those guys down in the box, we feel like we can take deep shots,” Griffin said. “It definitely is the most critical thing to have a back like Ja’Darius that you trust to carry the ball 25 or 30 times a game.”

The Buffaloes managed to keep the traditionally high-powered Wimberley offense in check as well. The Texans managed just 26 carries for 79 yards and completed 9 of 26 passes for 153 yards in the loss just a week after racking up 476 total yards in a 32-25 win over Burnet. 

Tito Segura has led the way defensively at middle linebacker while Michael Fox and Kyle Campos stepped up at defensive end to disrupt the line of scrimmage. In the secondary, Joiner and Nick DeHoyos have an interception apiece. 

Giddings will take on Taylor this week in their first road game of the season before traveling to take on Cameron Yoe, the No. 10 team in Class 3A Division I, next week. The Buffaloes will then host Navarro in their final tune-up for District 12-4A DII play, which begins Oct. 12 against Caldwell. 

Four of the district’s six teams – Giddings, Smithville, Bellville and La Grange –  are off to a 2-0 start to the season.  

“We really have the same goals everybody else has,” Griffin said. “We want to be the district champion, and then our goal here is to play football in December – there are no bad teams playing football in December. We feel like we have enough players to do that if we continue to improve and stay focused. 

“We’ve got some really good football teams to play between now and then and we’re definitely not going to overlook any one of them.”

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