BANGS — Three weeks into the season, the Bangs Dragons are still hunting their first victory as they welcome the Winters Blizzards for the school’s 125th homecoming at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Bangs (0-2) has opened the season with losses to Early, 45-6, and Hawley, 33-6. Winters (0-2), meanwhile, has been downed by San Saba, 42-7, and De Leon, 53-6.
“If we want to get where we want to be this season, this is a game we need to win,” said Bangs third-year head coach Jim Bird, who in the preseason stated the Dragons’ goal was to reach the playoffs with a winning record. “We’re just looking to get a little better and have an opportunity to win this week and next week and start heading the direction we want to head. It’s a game we can win, but it’s also a game we can lose. If we don’t execute and turn the ball over and give up big plays, don’t play our option responsibilities, we could get beat. We’ve been talking to our kids all week about not letting the film of Winters’ first two games make us feel like we have it made. We haven’t won a game yet so we have to act like that and go fight hard to win a game, but they’re going to be doing the same thing.”
Despite last week’s loss to Hawley, Bird was pleased with the effort the Dragons’s displayed.
“We were real pleased with our kids’ effort and execution for the most part all the way through the game. We were playing a really good team and we felt like our kids never quit, never gave up and were upbeat all through the game. We just want to get better, and I felt like we did that from Week 1 to Week 2. That’s got to remain our focus, just improving week to week.”
The Dragons, who trailed just 12-6 at halftime, finished with 184 yards of total offense — 135 passing and 49 rushing.
“Offensively we threw the ball a bunch, executed some things well,” Bird said. “They were tough to run against, their front seven was huge, but we were still able to get some things done there. We threatened a couple of times and didn’t quite get it in, but we didn’t blow our own toes off like we had been.”
Defensively, the Dragons surrendered 407 yards — 305 on the ground and 102 through the air.
“Given who we were playing, I felt like our defense played lights out for the most part,” Bird said. “The second half Hawley just got behind their big lineman and we had a tough time man for man. We’re a little undersized and they’re big. They did the smart thing and just put it behind their big guys. We gave up one real deep ball and a pass for a touchdown, but stood in the gap. One touchdown was a fake punt and the other one was later in the game after we went for it on our own 20 trying to not give up and play to the end, so they got a quick, easy one there. If you really look at it, our defense held them to three scores and they’re really good.”
Winters comes into the game averaging 6.5 points and 212.5 yards — 178.5 rushing and 34 passing — per contest, while giving up 47.5 points and 386 yards on average.
Troy Hernandez rushed for 136 yards against San Saba, while Slater Lindley has added 88 yards over two games with both of Winters’ touchdowns. Through the air the Blizzards are just 4 of 19 passing for 68 yards for the season, with a pair of interceptions.
“Winters is kind of a flex-bone look,” Bird said. “They run a similar formation to what we do, what they base out of, but run a different offense, more triple option, a little more midline. They’ve got three backs that run the ball well and they’ve got some size up front. They’re not Hawley’s offensive line but they’re decent size. By far offensively you have to stop three players and that’s their three running backs.
“Defensively, they’ve played some really good teams that have scored a lot of points on them. We felt like they’re going to come in and play their hardest this week because they see another 0-2 team. We have to be ready for their best shot and last year we got their best shot and were able to fend them off late.”
The Dragons will be looking to improve on their 6 points and 203.5 yards — 121 passing and 82.5 rushing — per game offensively, and 39 points and 426.5 yards — 258.5 on the ground and 168 through the air — allowe defensively.
Colton Brewer has completed 19 of 46 passes for 165 yards and also rushed for 79 yards and a touchdown. Ethan Sanchez leads the team with 98 yards rushing while Terick Flores has chipped in 51 yards and a score. Top receiving threats include Justin Wilson (7-92), Seth Anderson (6-38), Stephen Montgomery (3-13), George Nichols (2-15) and Tyler Williford (1-7).
“We really want to try and get off to a fast start this week,” Bird said. “Defensively, they’ve given up a lot of points. We think we have the ability to score points, we just haven’t done it yet. I feel like the key for us is to finish the first couple of drives, take the ball, continue to execute like we did last week early in the game, not have negative plays, and to go finish drives.
“One thing that has been missing for us offensively has been the true big play. We’ve had some decent plays, but we haven’t had the big house call. We would like to have that happen this week and put a lot of points up.”
Last year, the Dragons picked up a 14-13 road victory over Winters.
According to Harris Ratings Weekly, Bangs is a 14-point favorite.