BANGS — The Bangs Dragons are closer to full strength in Week 10 as they continue their quest for their first victory of the season, traveling to face the Eastland Mavericks at 7:30 p.m. Friday in District 4-3A Division II action.
After missing the last two games, quarterback Colton Brewer returns, which will provide more diversity to an offense that produced just 20 yards — 36 passing and negative-16 — in last week’s 51-0 loss to Cisco.
“We get Brewer back this week which is a big deal,” said Bangs head coach Jim Bird. “We have a chance to move the football and score more points that way, so we’re excited about getting him back. It makes us more dangerous everywhere. It allows us to move different guys here and there and frees us up more. It’ll be nice to get him back. But Eastland is just as good as Cisco. The only difference is we get to have our best player back, so that will make us better.”
For the second week in a row, members of the JV squad will play alongside the varsity, and some have bene elevated into starting positions based on their performances last week.
“We played some young kids in some spots to give them a shot, and some of those JV kids mixed it up pretty well,” Bird said. “We’re keeping them together one more week, and some of the JV kids that came in as second-teamers in the Cisco game will be on the first team. They did a lot with the opportunity, and did more than some of the guys playing in front of them. That was exciting to see.”
Eastland (6-2, 3-0) is coming off a 45-0 victory over Coleman last week, which handed the Dragons (0-8, 0-3) a 46-12 defeat in the district opener.
The Mavericks generated 356 yards — 181 rushing and 175 passing — with two turnovers, while allowing just 87 yards, including 5 yards rushing on 25 carries, with three takeaways.
Brandon Fielding led Eastland with 74 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Zach Brown passed for 85 yards, including a 52-yard scoring strike to Bryson Blackwell, who finished with two grabs for 70 yards. Baron Morton added 90 yards through the air with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Bo Browning, who kicked a 32-yard field goal as well. Blackwell also returned an interception 19 yards for a touchdown.
“They’ve got size up front offensively and their quarterback is a good dual threat, and they’ve got some really good receivers out wide,” Bird said. “They have a big, massive tailback about 5-10, 210 pounds, a thick kid with a low center of gravity. He’s hard to bring down.
“Defensively, they play with an enormous chip on their shoulder with a very real edge to them. They want to make contact with you.”
The Dragons enter the contest averaging 15 points and 301 yards — 166 passing and 135 rushing — with 22 turnovers on the season, including six last week. Defensively, Bangs is yielding 49 points and 476 yards — 351 on the ground and 125 through the air — with 12 takeaways. Against Cisco last week, Bangs gave up 430 yards — 311 rushing and 119 passing — with two takeaways.
For the season, Brewer has completed 86 of 165 passes for 1,118 yards with seven touchdowns and two interceptions, while Seth Anderson is 7 of 30 for 80 yards with five interceptions. Leading receivers include Justin Wilson (33-577, 5 TDs), George Nicholas (16-245, TD), Anderson (14-122, TD), Steven Montgomery (14-118) and Tyler Williford (10-144). Top rushers include Brewer (382 yards, 7 TDs), Anderson (253 yards, 2 TDs) and Terick Flores (181 yards, 2 TDs).
Despite the blending of the varsity and JV and a late season youth movement, the Dragons are still very much focused on attempting to secure District 4-3A Division II’s final playoff berth.
“From a realistic approach we’ve been playing with some JV guys all year,” Bird said. “We have five sophomores and three freshmen that have been up and starting. Now you add in these two weeks and we’re combining the varsity and JV and getting even more JV guys playing time. It’s good and important, it’s better than not having any experience.
“But we’re not looking toward the offseason or next year just yet, we’re still not mathematically eliminated. We need some help from Dublin against Coleman this week and then we have to do certain things in the Dublin game to even have an opportunity. We’re not ready to abandon it yet, but the offseason is coming for everybody. Last year Dublin was 0-9 and beat us at the end of the year when we had won a couple of games and they still found the heart and the nerve to come out and play us and find a way to beat us and end their year with a win, and for them it’s carried over into a better year.”
Last season, Bangs was blown out by Eastland, 63-2.
According to Harris Ratings Weekly, Bangs is a 56-point underdog.