Beau Avila is task-oriented.
“I try to work hard in practice, pay attention to what my job is, and step up when I have to,” Avila said.
The Muleshoe junior linebacker’s task this week is to help slow Wall’s triple-option offense that has the Hawks within a win of the state quarterfinals for the first time since 1977.
“They have a lot of different formations,” said the 5-10, 180-pound Avila, who is also the Mules’ backup quarterback. “We have to just read our keys and they’ll take us to the ball.”
Muleshoe (10-1) faces Wall (11-1) in a Class 2A Division I regional semifinal game Friday in Seminole, Texas.
Muleshoe coach David Wood said Avila’s heady and steady play has been key for an underrated Mules’ defense that is allowing 262 yards and a little more than 11 points a game.
“He’s come into his own this season,” Wood said. “He’s not the best athlete, but he’s so coachable and understands body movement and how to use leverage.”
Wood said the Hawks, who run an offense similar to the Air Force Academy, is by far the fastest team the Mules have faced all season, led by senior quarterback Brett Rasberry.
“Anytime the quarterback gets in the open it’s going to be a touchdown,” Wood said. “Their running backs are fast too, but (Rasberry) is the key because he has the ball in his hands every play.”
Brett Rasberry and twin brother Brent Rasberry have both rushed for 1,000 yards this season.
Wood feels his defense is up to the challenge.
“We’ve done a good job this year of taking away what teams do best,” Wood said. “We try to take them out of their comfort zone.
Last week’s 14-0 win over Breckenridge was a perfect example as Mules more than held their own against the Bucks’ power running game. After averaging more than 350 yards on the ground in its previous five games, Breckenridge was held to 137 yards and was obviously out of its element throwing the ball.
Wood said the Mules, who average more than 450 yards and 41 points a game, got conservative after scoring both its touchdowns in the second quarter.
“We’ve got to keep running our offense like we can,” Wood said.
Senior quarterback Cooper Washington paces a balanced Muleshoe attack that has produced 2,400 yards rushing and 2,344 passing.“They’re a big physical team,” Wall coach Houston Guy to the San Angelo Standard Times. “They like to spread it out and they like to run it.
“They’ve got a very tough run defense. Size-wise they’ll dominate the line of scrimmage, but I feel we have more team speed that they do. If we can get outside, I think we can hurt them with our speed.”