Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Behind the scenes of Sachse's preparation for its first-ever playoff game
SACHSE — Since even making history takes a back seat to coaching football and only 24 hours can be squeezed into a day, celebration of Sachse’s first playoff berth was measured in cheeseburger bites.
A midnight Whataburger run had to suffice. In a few hours, Mustangs coaches would be hunkered down in preparation for the regular-season finale against Garland.
Then they would reap the reward from their 80-hour work week — another 80-hour work week, this time in preparation for a playoff opponent.
Sachse (7-3) will make its first postseason appearance Friday, against Jesuit (8-2) at Mesquite Memorial Stadium.
“For me personally, I think it’s just that satisfaction of seeing what it meant to the kids,” coach Mark Behrens said. “It’s the journey. That’s the fun part.”
Each day of the journey presents a series of tasks performed with precision, from dissecting frogs in biology class to dissecting Garland’s front seven in offensive meetings.
To get a feel for the grind, follow Behrens and his 12 assistants on a recent leg, as they spent six days in meetings, film sessions and practices preparing against Garland.
Sizing up the opponent
A dozen players are huddled around a table, slumped in chairs, eyes on a video screen.
Offensive line coach Greg Schaefer is breaking down a defense that has helped Garland win seven straight games.
Schaefer, in his fifth year at Sachse, is surprised and impressed by the uniformity as well as the movement of Garland’s front line.
“I didn’t think it was possible, but they get dang near foot to foot,” Schaefer said.
Again and again, Schaefer hits the rewind button. He keeps firing questions, primarily at center Abran Oakes, to make sure his linemen are engaged, or at least awake.
Breakdowns will be magnified against an opponent armed with size and speed. The process will be complicated by the Owls’ pre-snap movements.
“They play it straight up, 4-1 box,” Schaefer said. “All that it is is a safety right there. OK, there’s a rover mike. When we go on a down block, or any step, we’ve got to make sure we gain ground, OK?”
Nods and groans confirm a successful transmission of data.
Three days after their playoff-clinching victory over South Garland, Sachse coaches are contemplating multiple assignments.
About 65 uniforms need to be washed, several assistants are working security at the Lady Mustangs’ playoff volleyball game, and there’s that Garland defense.
“If ya’ll get the wash in, we’ll have everything done by the volleyball game,” offensive coordinator Doug Stephens said, wrapping up a video session that included Schaefer, running backs coach Richard Rogers and tight ends coach Scott Dunavent.
As a couple of assistants joke about possible attire for their security gig — tight black shirts, sunglasses — Stephens can’t resist a poke.
“If ya’ll need to go, go,” he said. “Try not to scare anybody.”
Fun and games
Behrens is all smiles after Thursday. The players seem to know their assignments, and there’s a relaxed vibe when the offensive and defensive linemen switch sides of the ball for a fun one-on-one session.
“Is this for offensive linemen?” said linebacker Christian Minies, eager to join the fray.
“You’re about a biscuit away,” Behrens said.
Behrens receives good news on several fronts.
Turns out tight end Jeff Guckenberg does not have a high ankle sprain, which could have sidelined him for the Jesuit game. A problem with the playoff T-shirts Behrens ordered has been resolved. And senior defensive end Tyler Holmes has received a scholarship offer from Kansas.
Different drills are being done on three fields. Coaches look as if they are guiding planes as they signal in plays. Pops of shoulder pads are interrupted by shouts of instruction.
“Stay low, keep driving your feet,” Schaefer said.
“Let’s bring some heat, we need pressure,” defensive coordinator William Calvert said.
Behrens ends practice with a quick talk to the kids and then walks toward the field house.
“Hay’s in the barn,” he said. “It’s Week 10 and we’re just trying not to hurt each other.”
Converging on Sachse
Behrens began his coaching odyssey 30 years ago. After playing at Everman High School and McMurry University, he took his first coaching job in Clyde.
He joined the Garland ISD in 1988 as defensive coordinator on Naaman Forest’s first staff.
Six years later, he became defensive coordinator at South Garland, and then in 2002, was named athletic director and head coach at Sachse.
Behrens has known Stephens since the early 1990s, when they were coordinators on opposing teams.
When offensive coordinator Mark Cox was leaving Sachse for the head coaching job at South Garland after last season, Behrens bumped into Stephens at a clinic.
Stephens had completed his second season as offensive coordinator at powerhouse Katy Taylor. But his wife Belinda and daughter Chelsea were still in the area, so he was looking to return.
Under Stephens, the Mustangs opened up their offense. Quarterback Trent White has thrown for 2,862 yards and 26 touchdowns.
“I feel real blessed,” Stephens said. “I was thrilled to death to get back home. This is the most enjoyable coaching staff I’ve been around.”
On Friday, Behrens watches a few episodes of Cops in his office before dressing for the game.
Sachse’s first play is a 4-yard completion. Behrens immediately lets the refs know he’s not to be messed with, complaining about the mark. The drive ends with White getting sacked.
“We gotta make sure we maintain our blocks,” Schaefer tells the linemen.
After Garland scores, Calvert quickly huddles with the defense.
“Now’s your time to go hit somebody, go do it,” he said.
White’s 10-yard pass to Tyrique Edwards caps a 67-yard drive, but the kick sails left.
Garland’s Seth Russell then breaks for an 80-yard touchdown run as Garland takes a 17-6 halftime lead. In the locker room, Calvert tries to keep the defense upbeat.
“You’ve stopped them,” he said. “They’ve given up on power. They’ve got one big play on us, that’s all. Let’s make some plays on the football.”
The defense opens the second half with a stop and then the Mustangs drive 77 yards, scoring on White’s 29-yard pass to Billy Cole.
But the Mustangs fail to score from inside the 10, and then E’Lon Green’s 54-yard touchdown run gives Garland a 24-12 lead. The Mustangs can’t overcome their mistakes. Final score: Garland 41, Sachse 19.
When coaches arrive for their 8 a.m. meeting Saturday, assistant Scott Wingo is already there. He has spent the night in the football office.
Because the Jesuit videos arrive in the wrong format, Wingo has to convert and edit them. He finishes at about 6 a.m.
Coaches spend several hours breaking down the Garland game and looking ahead to Jesuit. They get a big surprise when their wives show up with home-cooked meals.
They stand eating in the training room, some with small children hitched to their sides. Safeties coach Casey Laughery and inside linebackers coach Chad Bishop are overdue for family time.
“Chad and I haven’t seen our kids in two days,” Laughery said. “That was really special.”
Laughery’s days begin at 5:45 a.m. when he takes his girls, ages 3 and 1, to day care. He teaches two classes before he hits the football field.
Bishop and wife Mary, who works in the Allen school district, have a 4-year-old daughter. He also teaches two classes.
About 30 minutes into their Jesuit breakdown session, Behrens is yawning. So is Laughery. Bishop takes charge, officially closing the meeting.
“I am rolling on about three hours sleep,” he says. “I think I’m done.”