BANGS — With a season-opening victory under their belts, the defending District 8-2A champion Bangs Dragons will attempt to keep their positive momentum rolling as the Class 3A Llano Yellowjackets come calling at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Memorial Stadium.
Bangs (1-0) raced out to a four-touchdown advantage early in the second half en route to a 28-13 victory over the Comfort Bobcats last week. Meanwhile, Llano (0-1) — a Class 3A Division II area playoff finalist a year ago — is looking to rebound from an opening 42-20 loss to fellow 3A program Rockdale.
“I was really worried about Comfort,” said Bangs head coach Chuck Lipsey of the season opener. “They were athletic and did some things I was worried about us being able to stop, but the kids stepped in just like they started and played last year. We executed well offensively and made some key stops defensively.
“We went into the half up 21-0 and talked about coming out and scoring on our first possession and getting some other people in, and we did that. We fell to pieces a little bit in the fourth quarter, and some people got behind us a couple of times. Looking at the film we were close to executing, it was just one little thing here or there. But for two and a half quarters, I was pretty pleased with the way we played.”
The Dragons displayed a balanced attack offensively, finishing with 140 yards passing and 128 yards rushing. Bangs also went through the opener without a turnover after committing seven in the initial contest of the 2008 campaign.
“We didn’t have any major turnovers, the kicking game was there and we only had 20 yards in penalties,” Lipsey said. “We did all the little things that we stress, but we still have to get better.”
Quarterback Tyler Fuqua completed 6-of-15 pass attempts with touchdowns of 65 and 34 yards going to Quenton Sprowls and Jorden Mason, respectively. Fuqua also rushed for a team-high 52 yards on seven carries.
“We’re in a situation offensively where we’re going to have to disperse the ball around to different kids, and I thought Tyler did a good job distributing the ball where he needed to,” Lipsey said. “He made some mistakes, but he jumped right back and made some good decisions.”
Devin Rowland chipped in 38 yards rushing and a 2-yard touchdown, while Corey Sanchez also rushed for a 2-yard score. But Lipsey would like to see more production on the ground against Llano.
“We’d like to establish the run a little bit better, but we’re going to have to continue to throw and catch to open up the run game,” Lipsey said. “Our offensive line also needs to stay with their blocks longer. We’ve got some young linemen and they know where to go, they just have to finish out their blocks. That’s the key to any offense.”
Bangs will be facing a Llano defense that surrendered 404 total yards — 203 passing and 201 rushing — last week against Rockdale. The Yellowjackets held Rockdale scoreless in the opening period, but gave up 28 points in the second quarter.
Against the Dragons last season, however, Llano bounced back from an opening 39-33 loss to Rockdale by holding Bangs to 125 yards of total offense and four first downs in a 41-0 shutout win.
On the other side of the ball, Llano’s slot-T offensive attack will present a completely different set of challenges for the Dragons after Comfort attempted almost 50 passes and threw for 290 yards.
Llano racked up 291 yards of total offense — 247 rushing on 55 carries and 44 yards through the air on 4-of-9 passing — in Week 0, but the Yellowjackets turned the ball over three times.
Clayton Maples ran for a team-high 87 yards for Llano, while Preston Rabb did all the passing.
“Llano’s not real fancy, but they’re well coached and they execute their offense almost to perfection,” Lipsey said. “They have huge linemen and they like to run the trap, the buck, the lead and the toss, but they’ll throw it, too. We have to play responsibility football, read our keys and not get caught up in their play fakes. Their quarterback is 6-5, 185 lbs. and they have some kids that can catch. We can’t have our defensive backs get suckered in and come up to help on the run and then get beat on the play action.”