BANGS — The Bangs Dragons and San Saba Armadillos traded two touchdowns apiece Friday night at Memorial Stadium in the first of two preseason scrimmages for both squads.
The format consisted of 15 plays for each starting offense, followed by 15 plays by both second-team offenses, then 12 more plays for the starting units. Each team committed three turnovers out of the gate — two fumbles and an interception. The second-team offenses for both teams started the scoring, while the starters added one trip to the end zone each in their final set of 12 plays.
“We have a long way to go and we still have to polish some things up, but as far as effort I felt like the defense over the first 15 plays set the tone for the night,” said Bangs second-year head coach Kyle Maxfield, who guided the Dragons to a 3-7 record last year while competing in District 4-3A Division II. “Offensively we got the ball and were moving it, but we have to get back into game mode and taking hits when it comes to ball security.
“Ethan Sanchez ran hard, I don't know how many carries he had but he had some good ones. Guy Powell showed some flashes and our quarterback Brayton Wedeman finally settled down. We have to get better at throwing the ball, but as far as physicality and getting after it, I couldn't be more proud and pleased.”
San Saba, under new head coach Andreas Aguirre, is coming off a trip to Class 2A Division I state semifinals and a 14-1 overall record.
“They hit us in the mouth and stopped us a couple of times, but the defense came out on the field and made some stops, got three turnovers and three three-and-outs,” said Aguirre, who previously served as the Armadillos defensive coordinator. “Our offense then came back on the field and continued to drive the ball and score. We did some things really, really well.
“I'm proud of our kids because we saw the physicality and we continued to rise to that level of play and that's what it's going to have to be like every single game this year. We're going to have to continue to rise to that level of play that we're going to get every game.”
An interception by Trevor Bowers and a fumble recovery by Damien Santillanes during San Saba's first set of plays allowed the Dragons to prevent the Armadillos from advancing past the Bangs 45.
The Dragons, however, responded by losing two fumbles of their own along with tossing an interception.
After the San Saba offense coughed up another fumble early in the second team's set of plays, a 45-yard sprint on a counter resulted in the first touchdown.
The Bangs' second-team offense responded with runs of 22 and 40 yards by Powell, which set up a tying 2-yard carry by Sanchez, who is penciled in as second-team quarterback.
When the first teams took the field for the final time, San Saba began to gash the Bangs defense. Eli Salinas reeled off a 54-yard touchdown run that was called back for a penalty, but later scored on a 17-yard sprint.
Bangs answered with a 4-yard touchdown run by Powell on fourth and goal, which was set up earlier by a 22-yard scamper by Sanchez inside the 10. The play prior to Powell's touchdown, Bangs coughed up the ball again but was able to recover its own fumble.
“We're not in shape so we got a little tired and lost our focus a little bit,” Maxfield said. “We've come a long way in that area, but we just have to get better at that — and taking care of the ball. If we don't take care of the ball we don't give ourselves a chance on offense. We have to be very efficient.”
Bangs will scrimmage at Comanche on Thursday while San Saba welcomes Holland in scrimmage action Friday.
“We're going to get everybody's best shot, we're not flying underneath the radar,” Aguirre said. “They have a heck of a ball club, a well-coached ball club in Bangs. They came out, they were physical, and they played technically sound football. But we stayed together as a team and I thought we improved overall.”