The Sharyland Sting (9-1) recently had their nine-game winning streak snapped against the Texas Xtreme (10-0), but their solid regular season has earned them a first-round bye in the Texas United Football Association playoffs.
“Our defense has been a bright spot,” Sting owner Bob Olvera told Developmental Football USA. “They’ve scored a lot of points for us. Our secondary, when it comes to guys like Samuel Castillo, Edgar Moreno and Eddie Rangel, those guys I think have four touchdowns a piece when it comes to playing in the secondary and returning a pick six.
“They each have about four and they’ve come at the right time and that’s been key for us being 9-1. We might be struggling offensively and those guys will pick it out of the air and turn the tide of the game.”
Offensively, running back Treveon Hawkins has stepped up to the plate and provided a spark for Sharyland’s offense.
“We have four running backs, but the other guys have been hampered with injuries here and there,” Olvera said. “Treveon was probably our No. 3, but he’s come on strong and rushed for probably 650 yards this year. Our quarterbacks have struggled, so I would say those have been our bright spots, our secondary and our running backs.”
The Sting knew this season had the potential to be special when they overcame some adversity early on this year and came out with a big road win against the San Antonio Titans.
“Being that it was the first time we’ve had to travel 3 1/2 hours and get a team there,” Olvera said. “That’s pretty difficult sometimes when you’re not all going together. I think in that game, we had a guy named Roy Rendon return a pick six and Eddie Rangel, who’s been playing both sides of the ball, scored a 65-yard touchdown.
“Going up against the Titans, at that point they were our biggest challenge. Once we got there, they took the lead, then that game ended on us blocking a field goal for the win, so that was also the turning point in believing we can make a run in the playoffs. Not to take away anything from other teams, a lot of teams came to our house or we didn’t have to travel too far, but we kind of struggled to get everyone to San Antonio that week, so to pull off that win was really something.”
After a 9-0 start, the Sting got a reality check in Austin against the undefeated Texas Xtreme.
“All I can say is those guys are tough,” Olvera said. “It ended up being 44-12. Not to take anything away form the Xtreme, I believe they had 239 yards rushing that night. They wanted it more and it was tough, but we went in there with a brand new quarterback, Leonard Williams, who had not had any playing time. Our starting quarterback had some issues and stayed home, so it really hampered us, as far as what we could do.
“We walked out of there with our heads held high. We took our lumps and hopefully we’ll get to the point where we’ll see them again for the championship and hopefully give a better showing than we did, but they put it to us.”
While several other talented teams in the TUFA could also pose a threat to the Sting winning a league title, the Xtreme is definitely the team Sharyland has its eyes on the most.
“God-willing, if we can win our first playoff game on the 27th, we’ll be facing them in the third round, because we both have byes,” Olvera said. “We’re going to face a tough Monarchs team from Galveston County, so that’s what we’re preparing for right now. Other than that, the Texas Xtreme is probably our biggest hurdle, especially after they put it to us a couple of weeks ago.
“We’ve played the Bears out of Coastal Bend before. I don’t know how they’re going to do against their opponent, but as far as what we’ve seen on our bracket, the Monarchs of course, but I feel like we can handle them. I’m not saying it’s going to be an easy game or we got it, but we can compete against these guys and go into the game without any doubt.”
Between now and then, the Sting are in a position they haven’t been in all season and that’s rallying the troops back to play at a high level following a loss.
“After a 44-12 loss, no matter how you prepare, there’s going to be some doubt in someone on your team,” Olvera said. “We’ve got to get it out somehow before they step on the field. When you get beat 44-12, it’s tough to bounce back, and not just that, we’d have to go back to their house again, so I feel like that’s our biggest hurdle.
“If we can go back and take care of business over there then I feel like we have a great chance against whoever we would have in the championship to give them a great game.
“I think it’s going to be exciting this playoff round and good luck to all the teams. Right now, we’re in a stage where we’re back to basics and preparing ourselves and I just want to say I feel like we’re going to make a run for it and surprise some people.”