'Rec Squad' wrecks havoc for Katy in season-opening win

'Rec Squad' wrecks havoc for Katy in season-opening win (Copyright (c) 2021 VYPE - All rights reserved)

Katy High's receiving corps calls itself the 'Rec Squad.'

"We take pride in that," senior Ronnie Schneider said. "We catch the ball, any 50-50 ball. We run great routes. We can block. We're the entire package. We have guys that it doesn't matter if we're covered, we'll make the play."

The Tigers' receivers showed a lot of promise and potential during the summer and fall camp. Coach Gary Joseph sung their praises heading into Friday's season-opener. And then the perimeter patrons went out and vindicated the optimism in Katy's 40-7 win over Clear Springs at Legacy Stadium.

Junior quarterback Caleb Koger completed 11 of 16 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown and connected with six different receivers in a little more than two quarters of work. Two receivers—Schneider and junior JR Ceyanes—each had three catches.

Katy averaged 128.8 receiving yards per game last year, and bested that number considerably in game one, even with No. 1 receiver and Oregon commit Nic Anderson not at full strength, as the 'Rec Squad' wrecked havoc.

"They are awesome," Koger said. "I have four guys that I feel confident throwing the ball to, and I know they'll catch every single ball I throw. If I mess up on a ball, I know they can make a play on it. They're so consistent, so talented, so well-coached."

Schneider led the way with 66 yards and a touchdown on three catches. Anderson had 33 yards on two catches in limited time. Senior Antonio Silva had 26 yards and a touchdown on two catches. Ceyanes had 23 yards on three catches. Sophomore Luke Carter had a catch for 18 yards, and senior Isaiah Smith had a catch for 11 yards.

"When we get Nic 100 percent healthy, it's going to be a really dynamic core," Joseph said. "Silva, Schneider, JR Ceyanes, Nic. We have people who can catch. The fullback (Isaiah Smith) can catch the ball well. We just have to give the quarterback a chance."

Koger got plenty of chances against Clear Springs. The offensive line of Jace Butler, Jacob Egg, Dylan Erickson, Caleb Webb and Isaiah Ybarra gave him plenty of time in the pocket.

Koger averaged 10.2 yards per pass attempt and took advantage of a Clear Springs defense that was cognizant of the Tigers' typically potent run game. That was for good reason, with junior Seth Davis going for 149 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries and sophomore Chase Johnsey totaling 88 yards on 12 carries.

But with Koger picking apart the Chargers' soft secondary, it made for a nightmare scenario for Clear Springs.

"The running backs feed off us and we feed off them," Schneider said.

"It's tough defending the run and the pass, and somebody is going to have to give up something," Joseph said. "I understand we're going to get into a lot of man-to-man situations, and I think they're good enough to win them. That will help us down the road."

The athletic 5-foot-9, 165-pound Schneider has been an inspiring story for the Tigers. He started his varsity career as a defensive back and was primarily a returner last season.

But with persistent hard work in Katy's strength and conditioning camps, Schneider has turned himself into a valuable top receiver, one who's able to take some of the pressure off Anderson.

Because of guys like Schneider, Joseph is confident the passing game will be much improved this year, which is saying something since the Tigers won a state championship last year, their ninth.

"I think they'll be better," Joseph said of this year's receivers compared to last year's. "I know they will."


>> PROBLEMATIC: Katy's season-opening win did not come without concerns. The Tigers fumbled three times, losing two, and committed nine penalties for 65 yards. "It was a lot of first-game stuff," Joseph said. "Turning the ball over, pre-snap penalties. Cramping. All stuff that we've got to take care of before we play again. Ball security is a big thing, and our kids know better. I haven't lost confidence in any of our kids. We'll have to execute better in practice."

>> ALL IN: Joseph loved that everyone got to play against Clear Springs. Katy led 19-0 at halftime, and Joseph went to his backups with seven-plus minutes left in the third quarter, holding a 26-0 lead. "All of them got to play, which helps the chemistry of a football team and getting all those kids in," Joseph said. "It's a super deal. I'm proud of our (starters) giving them the opportunity to play. Even the (third-string) and (fourth-string) got to play, and that's what a team is. Being unselfish enough to get those kids a chance to play, and I'm very thankful for that." Joseph said quality backups, and consistent reps for those backups, create depth. "We've never won any type of championship with 22 kids," Joseph said. "We've always had injuries; we had injuries last year. We're going to have to develop depth, so getting those kids those kinds of reps is important."

>> FIRST OF MANY: Carter, the sophomore tight end, got his first varsity catch late in the first half on an 18-yard haul from Koger. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Carter impressed enough to win the starting role after projected starter Michael Dante suffered an injury during the summer. Carter is the son of Katy ISD assistant athletic director Lance Carter.