Gridiron Gander: A strength vs. strength battle awaits Thursday night

Trenches set to be the stage of team’s matchup against Klein


Chloe Carter

Varsity football defeated Klein last season 47-21 in their district opener.

Adeen Rao, Staff Writer

The Klein Bearkats became a regular customer on the Wildcat’s football schedule when they joined the 6A football division in the 2018-19 season. Since then, the Wildcats have consistently walked out as winners in matchups against Klein.

If you are a fan of the transitive property, then you would think the likelihood of a team victory on Thursday night is essentially guaranteed, as Klein Cain — whom the Wildcats thwarted by 15 points this past Friday — defeated Klein by 17 points earlier this season.

Football, however, is not that simple.

The Bearkats allowed 37 points on defense when facing Klein Cain, 12 points less than the Wildcats did. They also allowed 406 total yards of offense, 191 less than the Wildcats did. With this information, the average person would be inclined to believe that Tomball Memorial’s offense would have at least a more strenuous time racking up points on this Klein team.

The average person’s inclinations don’t take into account the lack of simplicity in football, though. Time of possession played a huge factor in Klein’s defensive performance, as Klein Cain only ran 49 offensive plays against the Bearkats, drastically less than the whopping 75 they ran against Tomball Memorial. In fact, when you zoom into the numbers, Tomball Memorial actually allowed around .33 less yards per play than the Bearkats did against Klein Cain.

When it comes to weapons, Klein does not come close to Klein Cain. Klein Cain showcased the premier junior running back in the country, a top 70 wide receiver, and one of the most potent offenses in the state. On the other hand, Klein’s offense since the subtraction of senior tight end Mason Tharp has been much more pedestrian.

Tharp’s absence in the passing game has caused quarterback Langston Stewart’s accuracy numbers to dwindle, as one would expect with the removal of a 6’8″ target. Stewart tallies around 113 total yards per game.

The severity of Tharp’s injury from Klein’s second game of the season is an enigma. That being said, if Tharp’s absence extends through Thursday night’s matchup, then senior halfback Kenzo Viteri is the player to watch for the Bearkats on the offensive side. Viteri accounts for just over 61% of Klein’s carries and just under half of the Bearkats overall offensive production. Viteri has a lot of similarities with Deer Park back Moe Canales, whom the Wildcats had a tough time with in their third game of the season against Deer Park. Viteri is very quick through the gaps and runs with a lot of power, so expect him to carry the load in this matchup.

This strength vs. strength battle is set to be a huge factor in whether this game ends up being a Wildcat offensive drubbing or a hard fought defensive football game.”

Klein’s offense thrives on time of possession and minimizing the amount of offensive drives and plays their opponent runs. Coincidentally, the Wildcats have been notorious for being one of the quickest scoring teams in the state, so Klein’s framework doesn’t exactly neutralize that of the Wildcats. Klein more than doubled the time of possession of their opponent in their season opener against Cypress Creek, so expect the Bearkats to take their time when it comes to snapping the football, very much to the contrary of how Klein Cain operated last Friday.

The Wildcat’s ground game has emerged as the primary mode of offense since the loss of senior Colton Marwill at quarterback, and they are going up against a Klein defense which has been outstanding at defending the run this season. Going into Thursday night, the Bearkats allow a mere 117.3 yards on the ground per game, at 4.09 yards per carry. On the flipside, the Wildcat’s rushing offense tally 456.6 yards per game at nine yards per carry on the dot. This strength vs. strength battle is set to be a huge factor in whether this game ends up being a Wildcat offensive drubbing or a hard fought defensive football game.

History is not on Klein’s side in that regard, as the Wildcats averaged 52 points per game in matchups vs. Klein in the past, and this season’s offense is the most productive statistically in school history.

Klein’s keys to victory are the return of their tight end to enhance the offense, a win in the battle of the trenches, and lots of mistakes from Tomball Memorial.

Thursday night’s game looks to be of the blowout variety, but if Klein comes prepared the game could most definitely turn out as a tight one.