BANGS — The District 4-3A Division II opener didn’t go in the Bangs Dragons’ favor, and they could be heading into their second league outing without their starting quarterback and safety.
The Dragons visit the Tolar Rattlers at 7:30 p.m., and Colton Brewer’s status will likely be a game-time decision, according to Bangs third-year head coach Jim Bird.
“He’s day to day,” Bird said earlier in the week. “It’s not an ACL or anything like that, it’s a bone bruise and maybe a slight sprain. It depends on how well he can move and protect himself. Early in the week he was stiff, so if he’s not able to play at a high level we’re going to hold him out. He doesn’t need the reps, so we’re using this as an opportunity for our back up (Seth Anderson) to get all the reps in preparation for him having to take most of the snaps, and that’s good for him long term.”
Brewer was injured late in the first half of Bangs’ 46-12 home loss to Coleman last week, as the Dragons slipped to 0-6 on the season with their 12th consecutive loss overall.
“We got started little slow, Coleman jumped out 16-0, but we battled back and scored twice to get it 16-12 with the difference being two-point conversions,” Bird said. “We drove down another time and fumbled, and that ended up being a 14-point swing and they got two touchdowns ahead of us. We’re driving to try and score before the half, got down to a fourth and goal at the 9, Brewer was scrambling all over the field and finally threw the ball downfield but got hit in the left knee and he was done. Obviously losing a kid like him is hard to overcome. A lot of the game plan was hard to execute without him in the second half so we ended up in our base offense and defense, and tried to fight for it.”
Despite the loss, Bird was pleased with the Dragons’ ability to dig themselves out of an early hole, before the game plan was scrapped due to Brewer’s injury.
“The biggest positive of the night was even though they jumped on us early, we fought back and were making a game out of it,” Bird said. “At 0-5 we didn’t have to do that, but our kids did. We didn’t turn the ball over a lot, but the one turnover did cost us because they went 60 or 70 yards on the next play for a touchdown.”
Tolar (3-3, 0-1) was dealt a 35-15 loss by Eastland in its district opener last week.
“They played Eastland toe to toe for a while, and I think they had the lead at halftime on Eastland,” Bird said. “They’re a real good team. We’re going to have to play well on every side of the ball to make a game out of it. That’s our goal to make it a game going into the fourth quarter and if you do that you never know what can happen.
“Their fronts are good on the offensive and defensive side. Their backs and quarterback run the ball well, and they have lots of weapons, some good receivers. They run some triple stuff out of the shotgun and that’s always a concern. Defensively, they’re in an odd front with three defensive linemen that play hard. The linebackers and secondary really fly to the ball, so we’re going to have to play really well to take advantage of their aggressive nature a little bit.”
In Tolar’s loss to Eastland last week, the Rattlers finished with 254 yards — 162 passing and 92 rushing — with six turnovers, while allowing 348 yards — 200 on the ground and 148 through the air — while creating a pair of takeaways.
Bryan Morgan completed 10 of 24 passes for 162 yards and a touchdown, with three interceptions, and he also rushed for a 4-yard score. Brice Scott caught three passes for 106 yards with a touchdown, while Clayton Deaver was held to 35 yards rushing and six receptions for 56 yards.
Bangs enters the contest averaging 19 points and 321 yards — 186 through the air and 135 on the ground — with 12 turnovers, while yielding 46 points and 455 yards — 331 rushing and 124 passing — per outing, with 10 takeaways.
Offensive standouts for the Dragons include Brewer with 1,118 yards passing and seven touchdowns to go along with a team-best 382 rushing yards and seven scores. Receiving threats include Justin Wilson (32-467, 5 TDs), Steven Montgomery (13-119), Anderson (14-122, TD), George Nicholas (14-210, TD) and Tyler Williford (10-144). Other weapons out of the backfield include Terick Flores (169 yards, 2 TDs), Anderson (108 yards, TD), Ethan Sanchez (98 yards), and Zach Zink (44 yards).
Whether Brewer plays or not, Bird said the key for the Dragons will be establishing the passing game to open up the ground attack.
“Normally I’d say we have to establish the running game, but we have to be able to throw the ball and put ourselves in plays where we have the opportunity to do that,” Bird said. “We have to establish the passing game to be able to run the football.”
Defensively, Evan Belez, Eli Carbajal and Corbin Freeland could have expanded roles again this week, and Bird wants to see additional improvement out of the young trio.
“Brewer is a huge part of our defense too, so we have to have some young kids step and at the end of the game they really started forcing the edge,” Bird said. “Corbin Freeland, Evan Belez and Eli Carbajal, they were all coming down and forcing the sweep. We have to continue to have those young kids step up and play well and play hard.”
Last season, Bangs fell to Tolar by a 60-18 count.
According to Harris Ratings Weekly, Bangs is a 35-point underdog.