Dragons, Bluecats clash in District 4-3A Division II opener

BANGS — The Bangs Dragons are looking to put a winless pre-district start behind them as they open District 4-3A Division II action against the one-win Coleman Bluecats Friday night.

Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Hufford Field.

Bangs (0-5) has opened the season with losses to Early (45-6), Hawley (33-6), Winters (52-36), Coahoma (34-26) and Jim Ned (68-28). The lone win for Coleman (1-4) came against Brady (28-19), with losses at the hands of Jim Ned (32-0), Comanche (38-0), Post (41-0) and Clyde (45-7).

“It’s the real season for us,” said Bangs third-year head coach Jim Bird. “You have the preseason, the real season and postseason. We have five games against pretty stiff competition and the book ends on our schedule are two games we feel like are winnable. We’re good enough to win if we play well — clean on offense and tough defense.

“The first district game is a big one, not only because Coleman is our western rival, but a big game for us in the grand scheme of things. Coleman’s been down a little bit, but it’s Coleman vs. Bangs so it’s going to be fun. If we can get a win there, we set ourselves up for the last game of the season, which is a win and get in scenario. So this is important, it’s big, and hopefully we’re able to get in the win column.”

Bangs enters the contest averaging 20 points and 336 yards — 192 passing and 144 rushing — per game with 10 turnovers.

Colton Brewer leads the Dragons in both passing (72 of 146 for 962 yards, 7 TDs, 2 INTs) and rushing (307 yards, 6 TDs), with a plethora of weapons at his disposal. Leading receivers include Justin Wilson (25-400, 5 TDs), Stephen Montgomery (12-104), Seth Anderson (12-90, TD), George Nicholas (11-188, TD) and Tyler Williford (10-144). Other contributors on the ground include Terick Flores (169 yards, 2 TDs), Ethan Sanchez (98 yards), Anderson (96 yards) and Zach Zink (43 yards).

“We’ve been able to find our groove, our niche offensively,” Bird said. “We’ve gravitated more to a one back than I figured, but we’ve been able to throw the ball — about double the attempts of a normal year for me as a player caller. The receivers have done a good job running routes, getting open and catching. Brewer is delivering the football and the offensive line is protecting better. It makes us a little more dangerous having that balance. You always strive for it but some years you don’t have the quarterback or the receivers. We have boths now.”

The Dragons will face a Coleman defense that allows 36 points a game with no fewer than 19 surrendered in any contest. Offensively, the Bluecats are producing just 7 points per game on average.

“They’re still the Bluecats and they still line up in the I and run the football,” Bird said. “They’ve thrown it a little more this year than what we’ve seen in the past, but the last week or two they’ve really gotten back to who they are offensively.

“Defensively they line up like Coleman always lines up. It’s going to be a right at you defensive game. It’s going to come down to how well we stand in front of them. We did a good job last year doing that with them, the defense played really hard against them here at our place. We need to do that again. It’s going to come down to who plays the best that night and who wants it the most.”

Coleman’s most recent outing was a 45-7 loss to Clyde as the Bluecats finished with 163 yards, including 136 rushing, but turned the ball over twice. Defensively, Coleman gave up 419 yards, including 235 through the air, with no takeaways. Devante Roberson rushed for 69 yards, Denton Allen completed 2 of 8 passes for 27 yards and Jett Allen made a 27-yard reception.

In the Bluecats’ lone win over Brady, Coleman finished with 284 yards of total offense behind a balanced attack that included 158 yards rushing and 126 passing. The Bluecats allowed 268 yards, with 242 coming on the ground. Roberson rushed for 88 yards and two touchdowns while Denton Allen added 56 rushing yards and two scores. Allen also connected on 5 of 10 passes for 126 yards as Trotter Harris led Coleman with two grabs for 67 yards while Jett Allen hauled down two receptions totaling 57 yards.

As for the keys to a Bangs victory, Bird said, “I want us to play clean for four quarters, don’t turn the ball over, no penalties at the wrong time, and no bad snaps. We have to make sure we don’t find a way to shoot ourselves in the foot and kill a drive.

“Defensively I’d like to see us be physical and hit them in the mouth. That’s their style, they’re going to come right at us. The only way to handle a team like that is to hit them in the teeth. We have to tackle well, fly to the ball, be physical and have fun doing it.”

Last season, Bangs was defeated by Coleman, 22-6.

According to Harris Ratings Weekly, Bangs is an 11-point underdog.