BANGS — The Bangs Dragons are hoping an unexpected night off doesn’t result in them falling a step behind — though Friday’s homecoming contest against the Hamilton Bulldogs should permit them to catch up to speed.
The Dragons (1-0) — who have not played since a 28-13 win over Comfort in Week 0 — host winless and scoreless Hamilton (0-2) — which has struggled mightily on both sides of the ball thus far — at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Memorial Stadium.
Bangs was slated to battle Llano last week, but severe thunderstorms led to the postponement of the game, which was not played Saturday like many other that were called last Friday.
“The travel, the long distance, the short week of school, it’s a decision we both made,” said Bangs head coach Chuck Lipsey, who along with Llano head coach David Yeager opted not to play Saturday. “We were attempting to get it in Friday night up until 9:30 p.m., and it wouldn’t have mattered if we waited until midnight because the lightning stayed around. Llano is a ways down there, and I would have played if they wanted to play, but he really just didn’t want to bring them back up.
“The game didn’t mean that much, they could have kicked our tails, we could have kicked theirs or it could have been a knockdown drag out, but you still wish you could have gotten to play. That’s the way it is and we have to go on.”
The Dragons have now shifted their focus to Hamilton, which has been outscored 88-0 thus far by Comanche and Goldthwaite.
Through two games, the Bulldogs have mustered just 196 total yards, an average of 98 per game, while giving up 900, an average of 450 yards per contest. In the season opener against Comanche, Hamilton finished with 11 yards of total offense, but improved to 185 against Goldthwaite. Despite the Bulldogs’ defensive woes, they have forced four turnovers in the first two games.
“Hamilton has played two good football teams in Comanche and Goldthwaite,” Lipsey said. “They’ve started off slow and they’ve got behind in both games and had a hard time bouncing back. They still have good athletes and can still step up and beat you.
“We told the kids it doesn’t matter if we’re playing someone 2-0 or 0-2, we need to play our ball game and play to get better in all phases of the game. We plan on playing hard for four quarters, not taking them lightly and winning the football game. I’ve seen teams take people lightly and barely win the ball game or the other team sneak up and beat them. We definitely don’t need that to happen. We need to have our ‘A’ game and get after it for four quarters.”
The Dragons have prepared for two different offensive and two separate defensive schemes this week in practice, as Lipsey expects the Bulldogs to attempt to locate and exploit the Dragons’ weaknesses Friday night.
“Offensively, they’re struggling a little bit and trying to figure out what works best,” Lipsey said. “They’re still running the wishbone and mixing in some spread stuff. We expect to see both and we’re going to prepare for both.
“Defensively, last year they ran a five and this year they’re in an even front. We’re going to prepare our blocking schemes for both because you don’t want to tell your team all week long to prepare for one defense and they’re not in it.”
Lipsey is not worried about any potential rust with no game last week, especially since the week of practice was just like any other for the Dragons leading into a game.
“We prepared and worked hard last week for Llano, which is a good football team, so it’s not like we took the week off,” Lipsey said. “It really wasn’t a week off, we were ready to go Friday night. The thing that bothers me the most is just missing out on the game situation and getting in shape by playing another ball game. We added some running at the end of practice to get in shape, but getting in shape out here is different than playing in a ball game and getting in shape.”
Due to the 14-day wait, Lipsey and the rest of the coaching staff are extremely eager to see the improvements the Dragons have made since their last outing.
“In football, the Xs and Os are important, but you have to be good blockers and good tacklers, I don’t care what kind of offense or defense you run,” Lipsey said. “We have to get better at blocking and get better at tackling.”
In the opener against Comfort, Bangs scored the first 28 points of the game and finished with 268 yards of total offense. Tyler Fuqua rushed for a team-high 52 yards and completed 6-of-15 passes for 140 yards with touchdowns of 65 and 34 yards going to Quenton Sprowls and Jorden Mason, respectively. Devin Rowland and Corey Sanchez each chipped in a 2-yard touchdown run, as well.
“Our offensive line is coming along and getting better everyday in practice,” Lipsey said. “Llano was going to be tough up front and we need to block against teams like that. That’s one of the things I regret about not playing.
“We’ve got four or five guys that are doing a good job of catching and running with the ball, and we did a good job of that the last game and in practice. The running back situation — Rowland, Sanchez and Marcus Berniard — we’re trying to set up our formations where they all get playing time. We’d like to see one step up, but if they don’t we can go with a rotation of two or three based on the formation.”
Defensively, the Dragons gave up 290 yards through the air to Comfort’s spread attack, while surrendering just 24 yards on the ground.
“We’ve made some changes defensively because we want to make sure we get the best 11 on the field,” Lipsey said. “That’s what pre-district games are for. Hopefully by the time we get to district we’ll have the right 11 on offense and defense.”