Not many things are able to stand the test of time, but the annual Guadalupe River Bowl between New Braunfels and Seguin has done just that.
The last season that the Unicorns and Matadors failed to meet on the gridiron was back in 1926 — when Calvin Coolidge was still in the White House. Ever since, the two rivals have played one another at least once each and every year for a grand total of 106 contests.
New Braunfels head coach Glenn Mangold said the 107th edition features a revamped Seguin squad that has steadily improved under the guidance of fourth-year head coach Travis Bush.
“He’s done a great job and their coaching staff has got those kids ready to win each week,” Mangold said. “They’re very prepared and motivated.”
The Matadors enter the contest at 0-1 following a 42-21 loss to Antonian on the road. Still, Seguin has a myriad of performers on offense that are capable of lighting up the scoreboard.
That list starts with athletic senior quarterback Jhalen Mickles, who amassed 191 total yards and a score last week.
“He does a great job scrambling and running the ball,” Mangold said. “They design runs for him, and he’s most dangerous when he goes back to pass and he’s got a lot of green grass in front of him. He runs well and makes great decisions.”
Mickles started last season’s Guadalupe River Bowl but was lifted in favor of backup Anthony Gonzalez after the Mats fell behind 21-9. Seguin rallied to take a 29-28 lead in that contest before the Unicorns drove for the go-ahead score to extend their win streak in the rivalry series to five consecutive games.
Mangold said his players are well aware of how close the Matadors came to springing an upset in 2018.
“All you have to do is put on the video of last year’s game to get our kids’ attention,” Mangold said. “We had to come back and take the lead at the end to win the game and I think we only had 78 yards rushing against them last year, I believe. We have to be ready to play.”
Seguin’s offense this season also features wide receivers Dravan McKnight, Trevor Waz and Jonathan Patterson. Last week, McKnight made 12 catches for 157 yards to lead the committee. The Mats also have running back Marques Washington, who ran for 157 yards and a pair of touchdowns in Seguin’s opener while also adding two grabs for 10 yards.
New Braunfels’ defense will attempt to slow the Mats’ attack after allowing 71 total points in the last two meetings combined. The Unicorns looked solid during their opener against Alamo Heights, as they gave up just two scoring drives, which came on back-to-back possessions in the third quarter.
Thankfully, New Braunfels answered with 24 unanswered points to turn the tide against the pesky Mules.
“We didn’t fall apart and start pointing fingers,” Mangold said. “We just kind of pulled together and started playing a little better and that was very encouraging that we showed a little bit of resiliency where we had some things not go our way. We were able to regroup and go back to work and take the lead back.”
Still, Mangold used the opening portion of the third quarter as a teaching point this week to remind his team that all 48 minutes are crucial.
“We can’t lay an egg in the third quarter and give up two scores and then not move the ball,” Mangold said.
One of the most impressive aspects of the Unicorns’ season opener was their work on special teams. Punter Myles Miller averaged 44.3 yards per boot and often flipped field position, while punt returner Lucas Dorrow broke loose for a 44-yard gain that helped seal the victory late in the fourth quarter.
“Those are big,” Mangold said. “The odds of us going 95 yards aren’t as good.”
New Braunfels also got a solid outing from sophomore running back Ryker Purdy, who showed toughness and good vision while posting 71 yards and a pair of TDs in his varsity debut. Dorrow was also outstanding at wide receiver, as he hauled in two scores in addition to his long return.
The Unicorns have a plethora of other weapons, which could all be unleashed tonight at Matador Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. as New Braunfels looks to improve upon its 65-38-3 lead in the all-time series.