BANGS — The Bangs Dragons’ road to the District 8-2A championship in 2008 began with a season-opening victory against Comfort.
The Dragons are hoping they can duplicate those same results as the Bobcats invade Memorial Stadium Friday night in the first game of Bangs’ second season under head coach Chuck Lipsey.
Two solid performances in scrimmages against Class A No. 9 Goldthwaite and 3A Breckenridge have carried over the positive momentum from last season’s 9-3 record and area-round playoff run. Lipsey and company hope to continue to build confidence during the pre-district portion of the schedule, which was one of the biggest keys to last season’s undefeated district run.
“We’re excited about the two scrimmages, but it’s really hard to tell a whole lot from scrimmages,” Lipsey said. “We still have a ways to go, but we’re ready to get into a full ball game and see how we do.
“It’s not the end of the world if we don’t win, but I plan on winning it and our kids plan on winning it. Anytime you get off to a good start it builds confidence. That’s why I feel good about the two scrimmages. But we have to make sure we play hard for four quarters.”
The Dragons solved one of their position battles as senior Tyler Fuqua will line up at quarterback, while junior Doug Drury will see time as a receiver and running back.
“Right now, starting out, Tyler Fuqua is going to be our starting quarterback, and if we need to bring Doug in we will,” Lipsey said. “Doug can also play running back and receiver. We feel real good about the quarterback position. There was some good competition between these guys and they really pull for each other.”
In the backfield, Devin Rowland and Corey Sanchez are expected to share the bulk of the workload from the tailback position.
“We liked what we saw from both of them in the scrimmages, so we’re going to play both of them and see how that goes,” Lipsey said.
Regardless of who is on the field, the Dragons will need several members of the offense to step up and fill the void at the skill positions. Bangs lost an average of 286 of its 342 total yards per game — 84 percent — from a year ago.
“We’re further along throwing and catching than we were at this time last year, and that’s a good thing,” Lipsey said. “We spent a lot of time on that in the spring and the summer and we’ve improved a bunch. I’m really impressed with our receivers and both our quarterbacks.”
The Dragons’ receiver rotation will likely include Jacob Hughes, Jorden Mason, Issac Brown, Quenton Sprowls, Marcus Smith and Grant Bear.
In order for the skill players to succeed, the offensive line must do its job. Lipsey is confident in the group, which will feature a combination of Chance Furniss, D.J. Rios, Taylor Smith, T.J. Jamison, Boone Cox, Charles Long and Sam Lopez.
“We feel like we’ve got the offensive linemen in the right spots going into Comfort, but we might have to jockey that a little bit,” Lipsey said.
The Dragons expect to pick up where they left off last year defensively, as Bangs gave up 22 points and 237 yards per game for the season, and just 13 points and 217 yards per district contest.
“The defense has played real well in the scrimmages,” Lipsey said “With the defense we have, we’re going to make big plays and get after it.”
Comfort, under new head coach Chip Mayfield, is implementing a new offensive scheme that should test the Dragons.
“They’re alternating two quarterbacks, one is a better thrower and one is a better runner, so we don’t know for sure which one is going to be playing,” Lipsey said. “They also have two big, tall receivers (Will Pace and J. Frank Derby) that can catch and have a lot of speed. We have to make sure we cover them because they’re going to be throwing the ball a lot. We have to put pressure on the quarterback and be aggressive and fly to the football when they catch it.”
On the defensive side of the ball, Comfort — led by linebackers Dereck Wright and Paxton Oliphant, along with defensive backs Michael Wright and Dane Wright — forced seven turnovers in last year’s opener, an area Lipsey wants to see Bangs vastly improved in Friday night.
“Last year they were beating us at halftime and three or four costly turnovers are what killed us,” Lipsey said. “That’s probably the one thing that upset me about the scrimmage the other day, putting the ball on the ground three times. We’ve got to take care of the football and eliminate the turnovers, and we should be in good shape.”