While the new Bulldog Field is drawing rave reviews, one team hasn’t been thrilled with its results at the venue thus far — the Zephyr Bulldogs.
Through three games, all at home, the Bulldogs are winless. But Zephyr (0-3) is hoping to snap its skid, along with the two-game win streak of the Santa Anna Mountaineers (2-1), at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Bulletin’s Six-Man Game of the Week.
Where the game occurs is nowhere near as important as coming out of the contest with the first win of the season, according to Bulldogs head coach Landon Buffe.
“That’s big for us right now. We have to get a little confidence going,” Buffe said. “The kids are still working hard and coming to practice with a lot of enthusiasm. They knew going into this year it was going to be a little tough, and everybody we’ve played so far has been a Division I school.
“We don’t have near the athletes we’ve had in the past, and they knew that, but we’re trying to learn each week, get better each week and be ready by the time district gets here.”
Zephyr is coming off a 52-0 loss to defending Division I state champion Strawn, while also suffering setbacks of 28-20 to Lometa and 62-41 to Rochelle. The Bulldogs have had some bright spots despite the losses, however.
“We’ve cut down on the turnovers, and we’ve found some weak spots and moved some kids around,” Buffe said. “Right now we just need to get some repetitions and get everybody on the same page.”
Santa Anna has already matched its 2008 win total under first-year head coach Jim Eubank. Eubank, a graduate of Santa Anna with 31 years of coaching experience, appears well on his way to achieving his preseason goal of restoring the Mountaineer program to respectability.
The Mountaineers are coming off victories of 45-0 over May and 40-20 over Comanche Paradigm, both at home.
In its two victories, Santa Anna is surrendering just 99 yards of total offense per game, while tallying 256.5. In the win over May last week, the Mountaineers gave up just 53 total yards and finished with 311.
Not only is Santa Anna shooting for its third straight win, but the Mountaineers, four-point underdogs according to sixmanfootball.com, are also looking to avenge a lopsided 54-6 loss from a year ago.
“Last year we beat them pretty good, so I expect them to come back fired up and ready to go,” Buffe said.
During Santa Anna’s win streak, Chris Tate and Manny Dancy have been the offensive catalysts.
Tate has rushed for touchdowns of 38, 20 and 60 yards; caught scoring tosses of 45, 5 and 16 yards; thrown a 41-yard touchdown pass; and returned an interception 41 yards for six points.
Dancy has completed touchdown passes of 5, 16, 45 and 35 yards, while rushing for scores of 12 and 20 yards.
Juan Suarez and Joe Guerrero have also found the end zone the last two games.
For Zephyr, spread back Haustin Simmons leads the offense with 393 yards rushing and four touchdowns on 57 carries. Simmons has also completed 34-of-75 passes for 468 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions.
Ryan Martin leads the Bulldogs with 12 catches for 192 yards and two touchdowns, trailed by Cody Wallin with 11 for 110 yards and a score and Greg Faubion with six catches for 102 yards and a touchdown.
Buffe believes a steady, error-free offensive effort is the key to a Zephyr victory Friday.
“We’ve got to execute smoothly and have no turnovers,” Buffe said.
On defense, Martin and Wallin lead Zephyr with 17 tackles, followed by 15 from Jake Stanley and 14 from Lacy Culpepper.