BANGS — Bangs put together its best offensive outing of the season but struggled on defense last week in a 52-36 loss to Winters. Now the Dragons embark on their longest road trip of the season as they attempt to notch their first victory over the Coahoma Bulldogs at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Bangs (0-3) has started its third season under head coach Jim Bird with losses to Winters, Hawley, 33-6, and Early, 45-6.
Coahoma (1-2), meanwhile is in the midst of a two-game slump, having fallen to Reagan County, 42-35, and McCamey, 46-36, since a season-opening 24-19 triumph over Forsan.
“Coahoma looks improved from last year,” Bird said. “They’ve got a win under their belt and this time last year they didn’t. We didn’t get to play them last year because of the lightning storm, so this is really our first taste of Coahoma, but it’s not going to be an easy challenge. They’re going to be tough and come straight at us and we’re going to have to want to stop them.”
Last week against Winters, the Dragons yielded 523 yards, including 503 on the ground.
“Defensively they just ran in and around and through us,” Bird said of Winters. “We didn’t do a great job playing responsibility football when it came to the triple option. And when it came time to just flat tackling those guys, they’re big physical kids and we didn’t tackle them well. We have to do better at the point of attack and with our tackling. Defense is about effort and want to, and the only way to stop a power running game is to be tough. We didn’t do a good job of that the other night and they were able to run the ball at will. We’re working this week, and our emphasis point this week has been the run game.”
Offensively, however, Bangs put up 467 total yards — 278 passing and 189 rushing — and scored 30 points more than either of the first two outings.
“We were able to break out a little offensively and put some points up,” Bird said. “We knew we’d been right there ready to do that but hadn’t done it yet. We finally put together a good offensive day. We were pretty balanced, we almost threw for 300 yards and we ran for almost 200. That’s a good day and good balance. We have a lot of guys touching the ball, a lot of guys catching it and a lot of guys running it and that’s going to be the key for us offensively to maintain being able to put points up.”
Through three games, the Dragons averaging 16 points and 291 yards — 148 passing and 142 rushing — per outing while allowing 43 points and 459 yards — 340 on the ground and 119 through the air.
“My own philosophy is you have to establish a run game and play good defense to win,” Bird said. “Last week we established our run game, we were able to throw the ball whenever we wanted, but we didn’t play the kind of defense necessary to take their run game away. And 500 yards later, they have 50 points.”
Coahoma heads into the contest averaging 32 points and 362 points – 204 rushing and 158 passing — while giving up 36 points per game.
Defensively for the Bulldogs, top tacklers are Caimon Billingsley (29 tackles), Zack Schneider (26), Joe Isaack Escobedo-Gonzales (23) and Clark-Burdell (19). Coahoma has tallied two sacks, two fumble recoveries and a pair of interceptions.
Quarterback Mason Moore has completed 25 of 51 passes for 448 yards with six touchdowns and four interceptions, while rushing for 49 yards and two touchdowns. Esobedo-Gonzales leads the ground game with 250 yards and two touchdowns followed by Braden Pearson with 166 yards and two scores and Schneider with 150 yards and a trip to the end zone. Leading receivers include Adam Clark (10-173, 3 TDs) and Gage Clark-Burdell (9-245, 3 TDs).
“They have a physical, downhill running game that will be a good test for us after what we just dealt with,” Bird said. “They throw the ball more than Winters, but I expect given our history the first three games they’re going to try and run the football at us. They have the ability to throw the ball a little bit but they want to run first. We’re going to make it a point to try and slow that down and make them have to throw it.”
As for Bangs, quarterback Colton Brewer has completed 36 of 73 passes for 165 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, while rushing for 161 yards and three touchdowns. On the ground, Terick Flores has added 139 yards and a pair of touchdowns while Ethan Sanchez has chipped in 98 yards. Leading receivers include Justin Wilson (12-154, TD), Seth Anderson (7-39), Tyler Williford (6-60), Stephen Montgomery (6-46) and George Nicholas (4-103, TD).
“We need to continue to get better offensively,” Bird said. “We had a few miscues that when you get into a shootout you can’t afford. We had a fumble after a completion, that’s where we gave the lead up, so we need to take care of the football and not have turnovers. We can’t get behind the sticks so we can continue to consistently put points on the board. We can put points on the board as long as we don’t screw up. We just have to take care of the ball, finish drives, keep their offense off the field and then when they do get on the field play great defense. If we do that, we have a great chance to win.”
According to Harris Ratings Weekly, Bangs is a 15-point underdog.