Katy

Junior kicker Nemanja Lazic (17) and holder Carter Calland (10) have been key components of a strong kicking game for Katy High this season.

These Katy Tigers are elite.

Katy is ranked No. 2 in Class 6A in the state and No. 10 nationally. The Tigers average 48.5 points on 472.3 yards per game and surrender 10.5 points on 156.5 yards per game.

Still, coach Gary Joseph is hesitant to say if this year’s Tigers remind him of any team from the past.

“Every team has its own identity and make-up,” Joseph said. “There’s some things with this group that have surprised me. But as far as comparing? Ask me after 10 games or ask me after the season. This team has a chance to be really good, but they still haven’t done anything yet.

“North Shore is playing better, Atascocita put 85 (points) on somebody last week. Cy-Fair is doing well. Those are people we’ll have to face in Division I in the playoffs. We still have a lot to play for.”

Joseph said he has been pleasantly surprised with the senior-laden offensive line of Brayden Gammel, Dakota White, Dylan Howerton, Justin King and Drew Murphy, and key reserves Carson Rogers and Jacob Severin. He knew it had a chance to be a good unit; he did not know, however, it would be this good this soon.

He’s also impressed with the play of sophomores Ty Kana (linebacker), Malik Sylla (defensive lineman) and Cayde Robertson (defensive lineman) during what was a rigorous non-district slate.

Joseph said the kicking game is solid, he has three strong running backs who all have potential to be even better, and he likes how his team can throw the football and provide balance offensively.

JOSEPH EXPECTS BETTER

Joseph said the Clear Springs game seems so long ago. That’s the nature of an open week.

The Tigers start district play this week against Tompkins on Thursday after having a bye last week following a dominant 4-0 run through non-district play.

“I expect us to play better than we did against Clear Springs. Not the same, but better,” Joseph said. “We’ve got to continue to get better and play better. We’re not going to come out (Thursday) and come off this bye and feel our way around the first half. We better play from the opening whistle, or it could get ugly.”

Joseph is aware of the attention and hype this week’s game against Tompkins has received.

“I don’t do the whole Twitter stuff, but those kids over there have let our kids know they’re ready to play,” Joseph said. “That’s good.”

Joseph said the timing of his team’s open week, between non-district and district play, works well, but it was not a complete success.

“I was hoping to get more of our kids healed up, but we got some work in,” he said. “We’re still a bit gimpy in some places, but when you play four games, you’re going to be gimpy.”

It’s mostly the linebackers that are ailing, in particular starters Hagen Losa and Shepherd Bowling. Inside and outside, Joseph has injuries all over at that position.

Joseph said creating depth at linebacker has been a work in progress. Senior Kyle Trembulak’s return will help. He missed the first four games after suffering an injury during two-a-days in August.

“I don’t think it’s great, but we’ve had some kids that are competing,” Joseph said of depth at linebacker. “I’ve said from the beginning, we’re not going to win this thing with 22 people. You have to have some kids come through, and kids you’re not counting on hopefully they come through at the right time.”

LAZIC MAKING STRIDES

Junior kicker Nemanja Lazic has played well since an inauspicious first game against North Shore.

A bad snap on a missed field goal attempt and another missed field goal against the Mustangs plagued Lazic and the kicking game in the opener. But since then, the Tigers moved senior Carter Calland to holder and Lazic has been money, ranking second in the district in scoring by kicking with 24 extra-point makes and two field goal makes for 30 points.

“He’s done well. The first game wasn’t real well. It may have been jitters,” Joseph said. “But he’s done a good job on kickoffs and pooch kicks. We were just so out of sync the first game, from bad snaps to a missed kick. But his consistency has gotten better and he’s gotten more confidence.”

The Tigers have three strong kickers in Lazic, Fuller Shurtz and Josh Rodriguez. Joseph said it’s a testament to Lazic’s improved performance that he won the job.

However, with Calland unable to practice most of this week, Joseph said his injury could impact the kicking game Thursday against Tompkins. The backup holder is senior Chase Schaper, and the Tigers have to figure out who Schaper’s backup will be.

“That will be something we have to address and look at, who the next man is up to hold,” Joseph said.