BANGS — The Bangs Dragons were unable to start their season with two consecutive victories, but an opportunity to bounce back presents itself at 7:30 p.m. Friday as head coach Jim Bird’s squad will again hit the road to face the Winters Blizzards.
Bangs (1-1), which won its season opener 34-8 over Early, is coming off a 56-7 loss at Hawley last week. Winters (1-1) started its campaign with a dramatic 15-14 victory over San Saba, but was dealt a 49-6 loss to De Leon last week.
In regard to last week’s loss, Bird said, “We just never got started. We came out flat off an emotional game. We just didn’t have the same intensity we had the week before. Our practice Monday through Wednesday was not the same level. We didn’t set ourselves up during the week to play well Friday. We played like we practiced — low intensity, not the same effort. Not to discredit Hawley, they’re a great football team and their kids play hard and are used to winning and you can’t afford to start slow against a team like that.
“If we come out and play hard from the jump we’re in a dogfight. We let them get their wheels moving a little bit and then there wasn’t any slowing that train down once they got going. That’s a good lesson for us because we’re not good enough to not play well. We have to execute well and play with great intensity and great velocity all the time in order for us to be as good as we’re capable of being.”
The Dragons found themselves down 20 points after one quarter, tallied their only touchdown with 2:27 left in the second period on a 1-yard Brian Sterling run, then allowed another score in the final minute of the half to trail 28-7 at intermission.
Bangs generated 178 total yards — 103 through the air and 75 on the ground — and lost two fumbles, the only turnovers of the contest. Colton Brewer led Bangs with 31 yards rushing and also completed 8 of 17 passes for 103 yards with Kevin Blaine hauling in four grabs for 49 yards, while Tanner James caught a 31-yard pass.
Defensively, the Dragons surrendered 479 yards — 242 passing and 237 rushing.
“Our kids did play hard,” Bird said. “The later the ball game got the harder we played and never quit and never stopped trying to play. But what we felt were the effects of them taking it to us for 2 ½ quarters before we really got into gear and started playing as hard as we can play. But by that point we’re playing as hard as we can to no avail.”
Through two games, the Dragons are averaging 20.5 points and 258 yards — 183 rushing and 75 passing — while allowing 32 points and 381 yards — 197 on the ground and 184 through the air.
Brewer has completed 10 of 23 passes for 150 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 125 yards and another score. Sterling has chipped in 119 yards and two touchdowns while Zach Allen has compiled 113 yards and a touchdown. Leading receivers include Blayne (4-49), Zach Allen (3-59, TD), Kaden Allen (2-11) and James (1-31).
As for Winters, the Blizzards won their season opener on a 66-yard touchdown pass from Marcus Mostad to Joey Garcia with 1:15 left and A.J. Smith, who rushed for a team-high 88 yards, tacked on the two-point conversion.
The Blizzards attempted just five passes, completing three for 117 yards. Garcia finished with two grabs for 83 yards and Drey Patton caught a 34-yard toss. Troy Hernandez added 53 yards on the ground and Winters’ first touchdown of the season as the Blizzards amassed 300 yards of total offense.
Defensively, Winters limited San Saba to 225 yards, with 218 coming on the ground.
In last week’s loss to De Leon, Winters mustered just 168 yards, with 161 coming on the ground, with three turnovers. Patton rushed for a 70-yard touchdown with 4:40 left to prevent a shutout, while defensively the Blizzards — who trailed 35-0 at halftime — gave up 287 yards, including 242 rushing on 28 carries for an 8.6 yards per carry average.
“They’re a foot to foot, everybody in tight, bring it right at you type of team,” Bird said of the Blizzards. “They have a lot of big, strong kids. Not a ton of speed, but with what they do they don’t need speed, they need big bodies and they’ve got plenty of those. They’re going to bring it straight at us and be happy with three yards and a cloud of dust every play. We’re going to have to physically stand up to them and not allow them to keep the football the whole quarter every time they get it. We have to put stops together.
“Offensively, we have to utilize the advantages we may have in the speed department and play fast. We don’t have a ton of speed, we have some guys that can run a little bit, but when we all play fast we look faster. They’re going to do what they do, we’re going to do what we do, but it’s about how we do it.”
Reducing turnovers and high intensity on defense are also critical keys, Bird said.
“Offensively we had two fumbles last week, which we hadn’t done much of until the other night, he said. “The second play we had the ball we turned it over. I want to eliminate turnovers and protect the quarterback. We gave up too many sacks the other night so we need to shore up our pass protection so Brewer can stand, set his feet and throw the ball because we have some decent receivers.
“Defensively, we need to play with reckless abandon and that ridiculous effort that we talk about. Without that, you’re not going to stop a team that’s going to come straight at you. We have to be super physical and super fast on the defensive side of the ball and tackle well, which we didn’t do a good job of the other night.”
According to Harris Ratings Weekly, Bangs is an 8-point favorite.