Vista Ridge is already in playoff mode.
The Rangers (4-3, 2-1 District 25-6A) have three games left on the schedule and host Hays in a potential postseason-deciding game Friday night at Gupton Stadium. The Rebels (3-5, 2-2) are just half a game back and still have their bye week.
“Our kids understand that we’re sitting one game better than we were last year at this time,” Vista Ridge head coach Rodney Vincent said. “They also understand the importance of the last three and getting this one.”
Last season, Vista Ridge had just one win through its first three district game and took control the fourth spot with a 46-43 despite allowing 29 points in the fourth quarter and made the playoffs for the third straight season.
The Rangers have looked much better on offense this season, winning their first two district games by a combined score of 84-35.
Coming off their bye week, the Rangers lost 42-0 at Vandegrift last Friday night. They came up well short of their season averages in both passing and rushing yards and gave up more than 40 points for the third time this year.
Jamil Pittman was injured in the first half of the loss to Vipers and did not return. He has done a little of everything for Vista Ridge and leads the team with 613 receiving yards and six touchdowns. He has thrown, caught, rushed, and returned an interception for a touchdown this season.
Joe Goodwin leads the Vista Ridge ground attack with 447 yards and three touchdowns.
“The biggest thing is resetting the kids’ minds,” Vincent said. “You don’t want to let a performance like last week lead to another performance like that and let that loss become another loss.”
Hays began the district season with losses to the Cavaliers and Chaparrals and were within a touchdown of Westlake at halftime before giving up 17 points in the second half. The Rebels beat Lehman and Leander in the last two weeks.
The run-first Rebels average more than 200 yards per game on the ground, led by Thailand Mayberry, who has eclipsed the century mark three times and has 657 yards and five touchdowns. Cade Powell and Xavier Martinez are each over 300 yards on the season and have six scores each.
“Hays is a playoff type team,” Vincent said. “With them, it’s going to come down to stopping the run. And then on offense, we have to be able to take what they give us and be patient as an offensive unit.”
After the showdown with the Rebels, Vista Ridge has one of the toughest closing stretches in the entire state. It goes to No. 3 Lake Travis on Nov. 3 and finishes the regular season hosting No. 2 Westlake on Nov. 10.
“We’ve got three weeks guaranteed so treat them like playoff games,” Vincent said.