SIX-MAN GAME OF THE WEEK

Blanket (0-1) at Brookesmith (1-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday — Mustang Field

2006 Result: Blanket 63, Brookesmith 50

Blanket outlasted Brookesmith, 63-50, in one of the Mustangs’ few setbacks during their march to the playoffs last season. The Tigers (0-1) will again be looking to earn their first victory against the Mustangs (1-0), who play host to Blanket in Friday’s 7:30 p.m. Bulletin Six-Man Game of the Week.

Brookesmith is coming off a 27-20 home victory over Rising Star, while Blanket — a 19-point favorite according to sixmanfootball.com — suffered a 49-22 setback at the hands of No. 10 Abbott at the Coyote Kickoff Classic in Richland Springs.

Both teams are fairly young, though Blanket has the experience advantage with four offensive and four defensive starters returning. Brookesmith entered the year with just two lettermen returning from last year’s playoff squad, but the Mustangs have a slight edge in confidence with their first win under their belts.

“I think it’s big for the kids to start the year with a win,” said first-year Brookesmith head coach Clint Lowry. “Any season is, but the kids we have coming back have hardly any varsity experience, so this was a big boost for them and got the season headed in the right direction. We’re filling in a lot of holes from last year and I don’t know of any better way of getting started than that.”

The Mustangs jumped out to a 20-0 lead against Rising Star, then had to withstand a late Wildcats’ charge to hang on for the victory.

“We got into a situation a time or two where it could have went the other way, but our kids bowed up and got after it,” Lowry said.

Weston Patterson caught a pair of touchdown passes covering 42 and 7 yards from Michael Watkins, while Ethan Gonzalez and Dalton Stevens added scoring runs of 8 and 4 yards.

“I thought we did a real good job throwing the ball,” Lowry said. “This is kind of a new offense for them, I’m not saying they aren’t accustomed to the things we’re doing, but it’s all about the confidence level. They saw that when we execute properly things will work.”

Blanket’s loss to Abbott was closer than the final score indicated, and had the Tigers not turned the ball over three times the outcome may have been different.

“Our younger kids never gave up and kept going after it,” said Blanket head coach Darin Barrow. “I felt like we took a step toward jelling as a team, but we still have a few steps ahead of us. I was real proud of the way they fought.

“We still have some young kids in some young spots that need to mature. We had a couple of interceptions and a fumble and we need to eliminate those kinds of turnovers. If we don’t have those, we’re right in the ball game.”

Blanket finished with 204 yards of total offense and allowed just 248. The Tigers rushed for 74 yards, but picked up 130 through the air.

Neil Dove ran for 42 yards and a touchdown while completing 10-of-15 passes for 99 yards. Brian Box chipped in 33 yards rushing and another score while catching a team-high four passes for 41 yards.

Corey Wetzel was also 5-of-6 through the air, while Darrell Greenwood pulled down three receptions for 33 yards and K.J. King added three catches for 11 yards.

Though the Tigers’ have their share of new faces, Lowry believes their experience in Barrow’s system — and their quickness — will be a considerable advantage for Blanket.

“They’re not real big, but they’re very quick and we’re going to have to try and slow that down,” Lowry said. “Coach Barrow has been over there three or four years so they have some stability. He’s had the privilege to work with those kids for a while so they have a system in place and the kids know what he expects from them. We’re still trying to build our program and we’re still in the learning process. I hope we’re ready Friday night.”

Despite the Mustangs’ inexperience, Barrow stated Brookesmith definitely turned some heads with the way it performed against Rising Star — a Six-Man Division I, District 13 rival of Blanket’s.

“They had a pretty close game against Rising Star and they had to have a lot of heart to win that game,” Barrow said. “I understand they’ve lost quite a few players from last year, but we’re going to respect them like we would any other opponent. They may be pretty young, but it says a lot that they handled such a pressure situation.”

Both coaches cited a decrease in the number of turnovers among the keys to his respective team’s chance for a victory.

“We’re going to have to eliminate turnovers, play ball control offense and wrap up on defense,” Barrow said. “We really just need to improve on the basic fundamentals.”

Added Lowry, “We had a few turnovers the other night and we’re not going to be able to turn the ball over as much. We were fortunate enough to cause a few turnovers, but we’re going to have to cut ours down, keep playing hard and hope things fall our way.”