Senior Quarterback Jarius Stewart in action against Bellaire Episcopal on Friday Sept. 21. Stewart was named offense and defensive MVP in the 63-30 win over the Houston Second Baptist Eagles last Friday. (Photo by Kellie Whitaker)

The Calhoun Sandcrabs wrapped up a 4-1 record in their final non-district contest with a win against Houston Second Baptist.

The team is preparing for district play, which begins in two weeks on the road against the Beeville Trojans.

Sandcrabs Head Coach Richard Whitaker talked about how tough this year’s district teams are.

“This district is really tough, and teams are getting better,” Whitaker said. “Right now, everybody is at zero-zero when district starts. Rankings mean nothing. Records mean nothing. Everybody gets a fresh start.”

The Sandcrabs will be on the road for the first two district games against Beeville and Tuloso-Midway, and Whitaker talked about the importance of getting the first district win.

“We talked every year about the biggest game of the year being the first district football game,” Whitaker said, “and that has come out of my mouth hundreds of times since we started football.”

Whitaker mentioned this to his players from the La Vega game to the Houston Second Baptist game, “the only game that matters is Beeville.”

Whitaker added that the first game could get you into the playoff or out of the playoffs, and he said that is the game that matters most.

The district consists of five playoff teams (Calhoun, Calallen, Alice, CC Miller, and Beeville) from last year; three district champs (Calhoun, Miller, and Beeville); and a quarterfinalist (Calallen).

Several teams from Beeville to Tuloso-Midway have been showing impressive wins during the first five weeks of the season, and Whitaker has been looking at those teams.

“Every week is going to be a battle, and that’s what preseason sets you up for,” Whitaker said. “Week in and week out, we had a tough competitor, and we had to be ready every Friday, or we would have lost.”

Whitaker added the open date came at a better time, with his players tired and their bodies beaten down, and they are “going to take the opportunity this week and try to refresh and start working on the fundamentals,” and get ready for district play.

The Sandcrabs had a tough road getting to the district schedule, from playing La Vega to El Campo and Bellaire Episcopal. Whitaker talked about what his team can learn from playing against those teams.

“We’ve played some good athletes. On our tackling angles and things like that, we should be in tune with whatever we’re going to see [in district play] because I don’t think we’re going to see anyone faster than those kids we played against,” Whitaker said.

Whitaker said it’s about playing smart football, executing the offense, and “putting noses in the right spots and taking care of the football.”

“Defensively, it’s about reading your keys, being sound, and not giving up big plays,” Whitaker said.

During the off-time, Whitaker said this week they have to improve their special teams, and he added they have been suspect all year long.

“We worked on that every week, so something to take seriously during this off week is to try to solidify our special teams,” Whitaker said.

Whitaker has set expectations for his teams at the beginning of the year, and he said the number one goal is to make playoffs; number two, play deep in the playoffs; and lastly, win a district title.

“Those things would be in jeopardy if we lost the first [district] ball game,” Whitaker said. “It certainly doesn’t end all of our goals, but it certainly puts things into jeopardy.”

Whitaker added they need to go to Beeville and get a big win, but he knows it’ll be a tough contest.

Whitaker and Sandcrabs have been watching film on the Trojans, and he said that they have been growing every week.

“The Beeville Trojans will be ready to play the Calhoun Sandcrabs, and we’ll have to match that focus and intensity when we get there,” Whitaker said.

District play kicks off in Beeville Friday, October 9.

The game starts at 7:30 p.m.