By Jim Irish/Contributing writer
Posted Aug 25, 2020 at 2:00 PM
Bastrop Tribe Consolidated has started its past two six-man football seasons with narrow losses in the Garden City Classic, a weekend tournament in West Texas that has attracted the best teams in the state.
The Warriors absorbed those losses and then went undefeated the remainder of both seasons to capture back-to-back Division I Texas Association of Independent Athletic Associations state championships. With a DII victory in 2017, they have actually captured three straight TAIAO state titles.
This season, the Garden City Classic was canceled. Tribe’s toughest opponent of the regular season will be Calvert on the road on Sept. 11. The Warriors downed Calvert 36-20 last season, but it was a physical contest against an athletic team. They managed to win without injured star receiver Graham Mills.
Mills and quarterback Grant Golemon are both playing NAIA college football in Kansas this season.
Young athletes will now face Calvert, which is ranked No. 7 in the state six-man preseason poll. Tribe head coach Brent Golemon said Calvert is returning a lot of its players.
Calvert gave Richland Springs fits before losing 34-29 in the second-round playoff game last season. Richland Springs overwhelmed opponents in its final three playoff games to claim the state title. “Trust me, everything they’re doing is getting ready for us,” Golemon said. ”(Calvert coach Ja’Marcus Ashley) will have them ready.”
Tribe Consolidated is ranked 15th in the six-man preseason poll, which astonished Golemon.
“I think that nobody has taken the time to look at how many freshmen and sophomores I have,” he said. “When you start to have a program, they start ranking you higher.”
Sixteen of Tribe’s 23 athletes are either freshmen or sophomores. Four of the six seniors will be big contributors, Golemon said.
Samuel Osborn (5-8, 150) rushed for more than 2,300 yards and scored an eye-popping 48 touchdowns last season. Golemon said Osborn would have had higher statistics, but 10 of 13 games were stopped early because of the 48-point mercy rule.
“I think he’ll blow that (figure) out of the water,” Golemon said about Osborn. “He got those playing a half a season of football. Our games will last longer. We probably won’t be as dominant defensively as we were last year.”
With his time of 4.6 in the 40-yard dash and excellent cutting ability, Osborn will frustrate many a defense. Golemon said the senior is a fanatic in the weight room and is the most physical player on the team despite weighing only 150 pounds.
Chandler Golemon, a sophomore and Grant’s younger brother, will take over at quarterback. Brent Golemon said Chandler’s arm is not as strong as Grant’s, but he’s more accurate.
Rio Mata (5-10, 130) will join Osborn in the backfield. Wyatt Knippa (6-0, 175) will snap the ball. Hansen Collie (6-5, 240) and Ethan Mallett (6-0, 196) are the receivers. All six players in six-man football are eligible receivers. Golemon said Mallett lined up against a 6-5, 315-pound opponent from Coolidge in the second scrimmage and “threw him around the field.”
Golemon predicted that Tribe will run on two-thirds of its plays as it does most seasons.
Lake Mills (5-10, 165) anchors the defense at linebacker. Osborn will start the season at cornerback but may eventually be replaced by Josh McAlister (5-9, 140). Nathaniel Heilig (5-8, 150) is the other cornerback but won’t play that position in the season opener because of an injury. But he has been cleared to kick. Last season, he converted 70 of 74 extra points and three of four field goals. Mata will replace him at cornerback.
Haddon Mills (6-0, 165) and Collie are starting at defensive end, while Chuy Gonzales (5-9, 185) lines up at tackle.
Golemon said his goal is to not have any athlete playing both ways because he has many athletes of equal ability.
Austin Royals, Victoria Cobra, and Johnson County will offer competition in the regular season. Victoria won the DII TAIAO state title last year. Tribe downed Victoria 46-0, but Golemon said it was challenging. “They were a hard-hitting team,” he said. “It surprised our guys a little bit. We took advantage of a couple of turnovers.”
Despite a number of new faces, Tribe is chasing another state title. “We fully expect to repeat,” Golemon said. “We’re not going to shy away from that goal. They’ll be hiccups along the way. I don’t think we’ve had a season where we haven’t lost key players along the way.”
Tribe opens at Brazos Valley in Bryan on Friday. The Warriors shut out Brazos Valley 54-0 last season.