ROSENBERG—Fulshear's football team delivered a wake-up call of sorts last week with its impressive 38-17 win over then-No. 3 state-ranked El Campo. On Saturday afternoon, the Chargers were on the receiving end of a reality check.
Fulshear fell to Manor, 20-14, at Traylor Stadium, failing to score on five trips to the red zone. That included a relentless Manor defensive stand with less than three minutes. With first down on the goal line, Fulshear went backwards and was ultimately thwarted on 4th-and-3 for its fifth turnover on downs of the game.
"There's no such thing as a good loss, but sometimes you need that reality check," Fulshear first-year coach Nick Codutti said. "I think a lot of our kids woke up today. Defensively, our kids played their tails off. It was unbelievable. Offensively, it took us an entire quarter to wake up."
Codutti, regarded as a smart offensive mind by his coaching peers, was aggressive in going for it on fourth down. He is confident in his ways, what he believes works, and his ability to use personnel appropriately.
Simply put, the good was on showcase against El Campo. The bad affected the Manor game. Punting or going for a field goal on fourth down may be the traditional value in football, but Codutti saw 35 potential points to be had and couldn't resist.
His players agree with the philosophy.
"We've got to get the ball in the end zone when we're in the red zone," said junior quarterback Parker Williams, who had 94 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries and completed 11 of 18 passes for 115 yards. "That's the main thing. You can't win the game when you can't put points on the board. We need to be firing off the ball and punching it in. We run the ball. That's what we do."
Added senior linebacker Luke Guzzetta of the aggressive offense: "It's different from last year, but we're super confident and we love it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. It's a chance we're willing to take. We feel pretty confident in our defense that we've got their backs, and we want them to take those chances."
The outcome marred an admirable effort by the Fulshear defense, which had three takeaways and three sacks.
Junior linebacker Germany Williams and senior defensive back Luke McCurdy had fumble recoveries. Junior defensive back Maverick Schomberg had an interception.
Guzzetta, senior linebacker Grant Davis and senior defensive lineman Anthony Okeke had sacks.
.@fulshear_fball senior LB @luke_guzzetta talks about the Chargers’ strong defensive performance in a 20-14 loss to Manor this afternoon. Fulshear had three takeaways and three sacks today. #txhsfb pic.twitter.com/ZlnFUntzmC— VYPE Houston (@vypehouston) September 11, 2021
The kids are studs defensively, Codutti said. Through the first three games of the season, Fulshear has surrendered only 37 points.
"It's a brotherhood," Guzzetta said. "A lot of three-year starters that grew up playing together. I don't think many teams have what we have on defense. We're so close and we play for each other. There's no selfishness, and I think that's what separates us from other defenses."
After the game, Codutti relayed to his players the significance of using the loss as a wakeup call and turning a negative into a positive. The offensive line had a slow start and had big breakdowns at pivotal moments. Williams, playing just his third game at quarterback, has to get better trusting those around him, Codutti said.
"What it boils down to is, if you get the ball inside the 10-yard line, you've got to score," Codutti said. "You just have to have the want-to. We had missed blocks, fumbled snaps, penalties. Those are things that get you beat. We've got to clean that up."
Williams said the loss was indeed an awakening, with a semblance of good.
"I just hope we learn that we can play with anybody," Williams said. "We played with these guys down-for-down. We can play with anyone, but we just came up short when we needed it."
.@fulshear_fball junior QB @Park9rWilliams discusses the Chargers’ 20-14 loss to Manor. Williams rushed for 94 yards and a TD on 16 carries and completed 11 of 18 passes for 115 yards. #txhsfb @FulshearABC pic.twitter.com/QKZf367ZkG— Dennis Silva II (@densilva02) September 11, 2021