Longhorns out to build on Week 1 victory, hand Roscoe its first loss of the year

EARLY — The Early Longhorns last earned back-to-back victories during Weeks 4-5 of the 2013 season, but have the opportunity to start the 2017 campaign at 2-0 Friday night against the Roscoe Plowboys.

Early (1-0) hosts Roscoe (1-0) in a rematch of last year’s 41-20 Plowboys victory at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Longhorn Stadium.

The Longhorns are coming off a 45-6 home victory over the Bangs Dragons last week, a game in which Early dominated from start to finish. The win, which snapped a 12-game losing streak dating to 2015, can be attributed to the work ethic the Longhorns have displayed since the conclusion of a winless 2016 campaign.

“I’m certainly real proud of our kids and their efforts in practice, in two-a-days, over the summer and in the offseason, and their commitment to the program,” said Early head coach Blake Sandford. “It’s all about the kids and I’m very pleased with them and happy that they were able to have some success. We’re very blessed and very fortunate.”

Roscoe, meanwhile, picked up a 44-14 road victory over Haskell in Week 1. The Plowboys lost to Haskell, 42-41, in the 2016 season opener.

Roscoe jumped out to a 30-0 halftime lead on Haskell and limited the Indians to just 127 yards of total offense — 56 on the ground and 71 through the air. Haskell managed just one offensive touchdown with the other being a 51-yard interception return for six points.

Offensively for the Plowboys, Jayden Gonzales threw for 156 yards and four touchdowns, Francisco Garcia rushed for 132 yards and a score, Junior Martinez tallied 96 yards receiving with a 41-yard scoring reception and Jose Ortega hauled in three touchdown catches of 21, 10 and 8 yards. Roscoe finished with 358 total yards — 202 passing and 156 rushing.

“They have some great skill people and their linemen are big so they’re going to come out and try and establish a running game,” Sandford said of Roscoe. “On defense, they have a seven-man box and they try and stop the running game so we’ll have our hands full trying to match up with them.”

Against Bangs last week, Early generated 446 yards of total offense — 234 passing and 212 rushing.

“When (offensive coordinator) Coach (Dale) Trompler is calling offensive plays we’re trying to figure out where we can attack and where there’s any holes or weaknesses, if there are any, to move the chains,” Sandford said in regard to the diversity displayed on offense in Week 1.

Quarterback Ryan Trompler ignited the offensive effort with a 17 of 22, 234-yard passing performance to go along with 102 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.

“Ryan’s pretty dynamic because he can settle in and be a great pocket quarterback, the O-line did a great job with protection, but when we’re running some designed quarterback runs or if he’s reading run-pass options, he’s able to tuck the ball in and get positive yards,” Sandford said.

Jose Pesina added 64 yards and a pair of rushing touchdowns, while Jesson Tarrant hauled in seven receptions for 63 yards, Ty Schafer made six grabs for 81 yards and C.J. Hanley caught two passes that covered 55 yards.

“We have some dynamic backs and receivers, down hill runners with some speed on the edge so that helps us, too,” Sandford said. “We can get in different looks with our different personnel.”

On the defensive end, the Longhorns yielded just 223 yards, including 30 yards passing as Bangs completed just 3 of 15 attempts.

“(Defensive coordinator) Coach (Josh) Lehde and our defensive staff have done a wonderful job of putting our kids in a position to make sure we’re in the right spots, being opportunistic and trying to get 11 hats on the ball,” Sandford said. “We do a lot of that with our pursuit drills.”

The one negative for Early was the turnover margin, where the Longhorns failed to create a takeaway while giving the ball up three times.

“You always want to avoid turnovers and we need to eliminate those,” Sandford said regarding improvements he’d like to see in Week 2. “We need also need to have better speed on our tempo stuff, and to be able to execute the offense against any kind of opponent and the different defenses we see week in and week out. On defense, we need more 11 hats to the ball on every single play and to make sure we stay steady on special teams.”

Last week’s lopsided win over rival Bangs, which ending a lengthy drought in the win column, hasn’t affected the Longhorns’ preparation for Roscoe.

“The kids understand that they play one game a week,” Sandford said. “They were excited about last week’s win and now they want to get another win. We have a different opponent this week, and this is our most important game.”

According to Harris Ratings Weekly, Early is a 19-point underdog.