After giving a good Mon-ahans team fits at Mustang Bowl this past weekend and battling the state-ranked Loboes on even terms for three quarters before losing, Sweetwater plays a different set of Lobos this Friday.
And the spelling of their nicknames — Levelland’s Lobos, unlike Monahans, don’t include an ‘e’ in theirs — are only one of the differences between the two former Class 4A and now Class 3A schools.
Monahans is 2-0 and the Loboes are No. 8 in the latest 3A poll after beating Sweetwater. Levelland is 0-2 this season, but that just begins to tell the story. The Lobos were 0-10 last season and only 1-9 the year before that. In last year’s game, Levelland was defeated 46-14 by Sweetwater.
Sweetwater head coach Craig Slaughter said this year’s Lobos are much improved, and Levelland’s first two games — while still losses — indicate the pro-gram is on its way up.
Levelland lost to Amarillo Caprock and Dumas by a combined score of 56-30, but this past season, the Lobos lost to those two schools by an overall count of 94-16.
Sweetwater (1-1), mean-while, will likely be favored to win each of the next three games on its schedule.
After this week, the Mustangs return to the Bowl to face a still-winless Early team while welcoming its exes for homecoming. After that, the team visits Midland Greenwood (1-1). Sweetwater went 3-0 dur-ing this stretch last season, and a win at Levelland on Friday would get Sweetwa-ter started in that direction again. But Slaughter is not taking the Lobos lightly.
“I’ve seen (Nick) Runkles play and he makes good decisions. I’ve been impressed by him,” Slaughter said of Levelland’s senior quarter-back. “They’ve played two Class 4A schools and they handled themselves well.”
But Slaughter also thinks his team is better than it was last year, and sees no reason why Sweetwater can’t build on that improvement.
“We feel like we’ve got a chance to get on a roll and play at a high level, and we want to make sure we do that,” he said. “My goal for these next four weeks going into district is to hopefully get the team healthy, and to play better offensively.”
Sweetwater’s 46 points in last year’s game were the most in Slaughter’s tenure, but the game wasn’t as lop-sided as the final score indi-cated. Levelland trailed just 26-14 in the third quarter and nearly made it 26-21 until Sweetwater’s defense held and the offense broke the game open on quarter-back Taylor Jones’ 65-yard run. Slaughter is hoping to see more plays like that from an offense that has just 17 points in two games, the same number the defense has allowed.
“We need to find some big plays on offense,” the head coach said.