BANGS — The Bangs Dragons collected their second shutout victory of the season last week, and now target their first win streak since 2014 as they hit the road for the final time in 2018 as they visit the San Angelo TLCA Eagles at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
After snapping a 20-game skid with a 27-0 homecoming victory over Grape Creek on Oct. 5, the Dragons mauled Coleman, 47-0, last week.
“It was the best execution we’ve had on both sides of the ball,” Bangs first-year head coach Kyle Maxfield said. “Coleman is in a similar situation to us, not being in the playoffs and whatnot. We were just able to make some plays early, get the lead and it just kind of snowball from there. It was a credit to our kids the way we were ready to come out and play.”
Along with the shutout, Bangs (2-6, 2-3) surrendered just 66 total yards to Coleman — 1 yard passing on 1 of 5 completions and 65 yards rushing on 35 attempts — and recovered four fumbles.
On the offensive side of the ball, Bangs generated 337 total yards, including 295 yards and six touchdowns on the ground.
“We’re starting to look like a football team,” Maxfield said. “Earlier in the year we had guys learning so much and so many new positions and terminology on both sides of the ball that I think their heads were spinning. We really had some big holes on defense to fill throughout the season and it all came together Friday night. It’s a credit to our staff and kids for staying with it and wanting to get better each and every week and I think we’ve been able to accomplish that.”
The Dragons have swapped Seth Anderson and Justin Wilson at the quarterback and receiver positions, which is paying dividends. Anderson rushed for 108 yards and three scores last week while passing for 42 yards, and Wilson finished with a team-best two grabs for 35 yards.
“Justin was willing to put the team on his shoulders, along with Seth, but Justin had a couple of injuries that slowed him down and Seth started getting more reps at quarterback,” Maxfield said. “I think both of them are more comfortable doing what they’re doing now, not that they weren’t willing to do whatever we asked them to do. You can second guess that maybe Seth should have been doing this earlier, but I think our team has improved along with Seth playing a little quarterback, and Justin has the best hands on the team. It wasn’t just the one move, it was our O-line, receivers and running backs getting better as well.”
TLCA (1-7, 0-5) is carrying a six-game losing streak into Friday’s contest, with its lone win coming against Irion County (36-18) in Week 2. In district competition, the Eagles — who average 15 points and allow 48 per contest — have suffered losses to Merkel (53-21), Coleman (50-26), Grape Creek (42-14), Cisco (68-0) and Anson (62-7).
“They’ve got a couple of skill kids that can hurt you and they’ve put up some points, but they’ve struggled stopping people,” Maxfield said. “Obviously a good start to the game would be beneficial for us. One of their better athletes hasn’t been on the film the last two weeks, but they’ve gotten some other players back. Their skill players on offense can be a concern if you don’t take care of business.”
Despite the Eagles’ struggles, Maxfield stated the Dragons are in no position to feel overconfident heading into the contest.
“That’s a problem we should never have to address, but you do worry about it a little,” Maxfield said. “We have a chance to get our third win of the season. With kids who haven’t had a whole lot of success, you want to guard against that for sure. We haven’t talked about TLCA as much as we have us this week.”
The Dragons head into the game averaging 24 points and 263 yards — 185 rushing and 78 passing — per game, with 17 turnovers.
Anderson has rushed for a team-high 680 yards and 13 touchdowns while passing for 201 yards. Ethan Sanchez has chipped in 673 yards and seven scores on the ground while catching seven passes for 69 yards. Wilson has thrown for 406 yards with four touchdowns and five interceptions, while catching three passes for 51 yards. Other weapons in the passing attack include receivers Wesley Mitchell (10-69, TD) and Riley Taylor (8-74).
Defensively, Bangs is giving up 37 points and 413 yards per game — 261 rushing and 152 passing — with 13 takeaways.
Leading tacklers include Sanchez (74 tackles, 3 TFL, 2 FR, 2 sacks), Taylor (59.5 tackles, 3 TFL), Eli Carbajal (38 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 sack), Mitchell (35.5 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 INT), Brandon Robinson (34.5 tackles, 5 TFL), Kolt Bradley (30.5 tackles, 2 FR), Hunter Lawrence (28.5 tackles, 3 sacks), Cael John (27.5 tackles, 2 TFL), Evan Belez (24 tackles, 2 INTs, 1 sack, 1 TFL), Colton Martin (22 tackles, 2 TFLs, 1 INT), Anderson (19 tackles, 4 INTs), Hayden King (16 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 sack), and Trey Ivey (14 tackles).
As for potentially picking up back-to-back wins for the first time in four years, Maxfield said, “It’d be huge. To see them grow and mature and get better, we’ve played some pretty good teams. We went back and looked at the pre-district schedule and when you start it you think it’s not too rough but then you see how teams like Hawley and Winters have progressed through the season. It prepared us for district play.”
According to Harris Ratings Weekly, Bangs is a 25-point favorite.