With their first playoff trip since 2009 secured, the Santa Fe Indians will look to wrap up the regular season Friday night with some momentum, but will face a stern test from a quality Barbers Hill Eagles team.
“They’re a spread team, and they’re going to throw the ball around, and they’ve got a really good coaching staff,” Santa Fe head coach Mark Kanipes said. “It’s definitely a big ball game. It’ll be a tough task.”
Leading the Barbers Hill program is head coach Tom Westerberg, who previously guided Allen to state powerhouse status prior to taking the reins of the Eagles in Mont Belvieu.
After stepping in for the Eagles’ starting quarterback last season, receiver Dalton Holland has been the top target in the passing game for Barbers Hill this season. Lead running back Spencer Long will look to keep the offense balanced and keep the Santa Fe defense honest.
For Santa Fe’s offense, led by the QB-WR tandem of Nathan Kruger and Austin Lamb and running back Bryce Montemayor, it’ll be all about ball control to limit opportunities for Barbers Hill’s explosive offense. The Indians’ playmakers will look to take advantage of an Eagles defense that has surrendered an average of roughly 33 points per game in its six District 12-5A-II contests this season.
“We’ve got to try to keep the ball out of their hands and control the clock like we did against Crosby,” Kanipes said. “And the big thing for us is to not give up big plays, make them work for it.”
Regardless of Friday’s outcome, Santa Fe will cap a regular season that far exceeded many pundits’ preseason expectations. For example, the popular Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine predicted the Indians to finish next-to-last in a district that saw completely brand-new opponents on Santa Fe’s schedule.
“With the change in districts, we were in kind of unchartered territory, but it just worked out,” Kanipes said. “The kids have showed up to play, had fun and worked hard.”
Kickoff for the Santa Fe-Barbers Hill game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Joe Raitano Field.