BANGS — With four of their seven District 4-3A Division II football games behind them, the Bangs Dragons and Coleman Bluecats find themselves in must-win modes as they square off at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Memorial Stadium, hoping to keep their fading playoff chances afloat.
Since snapping a 20-game losing streak with a 27-0 victory over Grape Creek on Oct. 5, Bangs (1-6, 1-3) has fallen to Ballinger and Merkel. Coleman (2-5, 1-3), meanwhile, is also in the midst of a two-game slide with losses to Cisco and Anson.
Still, Bangs first-year head coach Kyle Maxfield is keeping the focus on improving week after week, not so much where the Dragons will be in mid-November.
“I feel like the kids have progressed each and every week, and I feel like we’re in a good spot to get some wins,” Maxfield said. “We have Coleman and TLCA, then we finish with Cisco which is fourth or fifth in the state. But we definitely have a chance to win some.”
Bangs is coming off a 38-22 loss to Merkel, one of the Dragons’ better outings of the season despite being unable to contain Badger quarterback Jonah White — which has been a common theme among Badger opponents this season.
“I really think we took some big steps forward in a lot of different areas of the game,” Maxfield said. “Tackling their quarterback was not one of our more successful moments, but that’s been the case against everybody they’ve played. He’s a difference maker and he could be playing football for a long time. Tulane was there looking at him when we played them.
“Our kids were in the game for the whole game until the last part of the fourth quarter. We had some chances in the first half, we were in the red zone two or three times and turned the ball over. We didn’t make the most of our opportunities in the first half and that hurt us in the end. We got tired, especially on defense there in the fourth quarter. We created some turnovers ourselves and gave our offense good field position all night. I felt like our field position battle was a lot better than it was the week before against Ballinger, but we gave them some gifts back. If we can cut down on that we ought to be all right.”
Maxfield stated he feels the Dragons match up well against Coleman, similar to the way Bangs paired up against Grape Creek in the team’s lone victory.
“Coleman does have some size, but speed wise we match up with them better than other teams we’ve played,” Maxfield said. “They’re similar to Grape Creek. Speed isn’t their strength but three yards and a cloud of dust is. We’re really going to have to make sure we don’t let that be their strength this week.”
In Coleman’s most recent outing, a 42-13 loss at the hands of Anson, the Bluecats gave up 408 total yards, with 377 coming on the ground. Coleman finished with 175 yards — 88 rushing and 87 passing — as Kolton Keeney scored on runs of 1 and 3 yards.
“They base out of a pro I and they actually throw the ball about as much as we do, which is not very much and when they do it’s usually a big play with the big tight end they have,” Maxfield said. “In a lot ways we’re similar, both teams have not been in the win column much, but I think whoever can execute, whoever makes the least amount of unforced errors in the game will come out on top.”
Bangs heads into the contest averaging 20 points and 252 yards — 169 on the ground and 83 through the air — per game, with 17 turnovers.
Justin Wilson (30 of 63 for 406 yards, 4 TDs, 5 INTs), Seth Anderson (18 of 34 for 159 yards, 2 INTs) and Wesley Mitchell (3 of 5 for 19 yards, 1 INT) have each seen time at quarterback in recent weeks, while the ground game continues to be anchored by Anderson
(572 yards, 10 TDs) and Ethan Sanchez (490 yards, 5 TDs). Leading receivers are Anderson
(18-251, 3 TDs), Mitchell (10-69, TD), Riley Taylor (7-67), Sanchez (6-69) and Colton Martin
On the defensive end, the Dragons are giving up 43 points and 463 yards — 289 rushing and 174 passing — per game, with 10 takeaways for the season.
Standouts include Sanchez (68 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 FR, 2 sacks), Taylor (53 tackles, 3 TFL), Mitchell (33 tackles, 1 INT), Eli Carbajal (31.5 tackles, 2 TFL), Brandon Robinson (29.5 tackles, 5 TFL), Kolt Bradley (27 tackles, 2 FR), Hunter Lawrence (24.5 tackles, 2 sacks), Cael John (23 tackles, 1 TFL), Anderson (19 tackles, 3 INTs), Martin (18 tackles, 2 TFLs, 1 INT), Hayden King
(13.5 tackles, 1 TFL) and Trey Ivey (13 tackles).
“Their goal is to stop Seth and our big plays, and our is to try and keep the ball from them because they can chew up some clock with the offense they run,” Maxfield said. “It should be a good match up, it’s a big challenge for us.”
According to Harris Ratings Weekly, Bangs is a 4-point underdog.