Jamil Pittman thinks he and Jacob Taute have the same kind of mind.
The pair of Vista Ridge seniors are two of the most explosive players in the district and have the Rangers climbing in the state poll. They’ve played football together since they were both five years old and consider themselves closer than any other players on the team.
“We think the same and we pretty much do the same,” Pittman said. “On the field, I know what he’s going to do and he knows what I’m going to do. It makes it easy for me to get open.”
The Rangers are riding a two-game winning streak after beaten Lehman 49-7 on the road last Friday. They finished non-district play with an impressive 56-49 win against Westwood last week.
Pittman has rushed for 186 yards and four touchdowns and caught six passes for 213 yards and three scores in the span. Taute has thrown for nearly 300 yards and five touchdowns in the last two games.
“It started with football, but he used to play every team together,” Taute said. “It gives us that extra confidence in each other. When I throw the ball, I know he’s going to catch it. When he runs his route, he knows I’m going to get it to him.”
Taute wasn’t always a standout quarterback.
When the duo started playing youth football with the Town and Country Warriors growing up, he was a lineman and a fullback. But he would come home from practice and work out more and run because he wanted to be under center.
Pittman said that work ethic is what has helped them become a dynamic duo and they’re good at keeping the energy high, but they both have things they can improve on like vocal leadership.
“He was a bit chunky back then,” Pittman said. “You couldn’t tell that now though. He’s just really fanatical about everything he does. Now he’s a six-foot giant and his arm has gotten stronger. He fought through an injury and I think he’s better than ever.”
Pittman played just about every sport growing up. He was a defensive stopper on the basketball court and had just enough moves to make one person miss. He was a contact hitter and outfielder playing baseball.
But football is his true sport.
“Football was that one sport that stuck,” he said. “It was a combination of all the energy I could let out with strength and grit. I loved the fact that I had to go out there and fight. This is what I was most competitive in.”
The back-to-back wins have bumped Vista Ridge up to a tie for No. 16 in the most recent poll.
Vista Ridge is focused on the team and what they can get better at. Taute and Pittman singled out the need to improve how they finished games and said they finally feel they put four quarters together in the win against Westwood.
“It was a glimpse of what we could do,” Pittman said. “We’ve always had the potential to put up those kinds of points, we just always had mental mistakes and kept shooting ourselves in the foot. That showed the true strength of our team. Now that we’ve seen it, we want more.”
College football is in the cards for both players. Taute doesn’t currently have any offers to play at the next level, but there are a few schools interested. Pittman received his first full-ride offer last week to play at UIW.
“I think I smiled for like 15 minutes straight when I got off the phone,” he said.
But first, the Rangers have the rest of this season to concentrate on. They host Leander on Friday night, have a bye the following week, and travel across town to meet up with Vandegrift on Oct. 20.
Vista Ridge has made the playoffs each of the last three seasons, including a run to the state semifinals just two seasons ago. But Taute hasn’t tasted anything past the first round as a starter and he wants more.
“Last year we were one and done in playoffs,” he said. “I want to get past the first round and I really want one of those gold footballs.”