EARLY – Having dropped Kyle Maxfield's debut as Bangs head coach by 40 points to Early a year ago at Memorial Stadium, the Dragons got a little bit of payback in Friday night's 2019 season opener.
The Dragons made the short trek to Longhorn Stadium Friday, where they lambasted rival Early by a 44-7 count in front of its home crowd. Head coach Blake Sandford's Longhorns were 20-point favorites heading into the contest according to the Harris Ratings Weekly service.
“It feels really satisfying to see the kids' looks on their faces after the game,” Maxfield said. “Last year we took a pretty good whipping that first game. We felt like all three phases of the game ended up getting this victory. It was a team win with a lot of contributions from a lot of different players.”
Bangs generated 367 yards of total offense — 245 rushing and 122 passing — as the Dragons raced out to a 30-7 halftime edge. Bangs tacked on two more touchdowns in the third period to round out the scoring.
“After our first two scrimmages against San Saba and Comanche we felt like we'd made a lot of strides and were a lot more physical,” Maxfield said. “On defense we've become a lot better tacklers, but on offense we still had some question marks going into the game, especially with a rookie quarterback. We were expecting to have some success, but to go in at halftime ahead 30-7, I don't think really anyone in the room expected that.”
Early, meanwhile, was limited to just 131 total yards while committing a pair of turnovers. The Longhorns rushed for only 42 yards on 27 carries — 1.5 yards per tote — and lost two fumbles, while completing 10 of 20 passes for 89 yards.
Ethan Sanchez ignited the Bangs offense, rushing for 142 yards and three touchdowns on 24 carries, while also tossing a 29-yard touchdown to Trevor Bowers. Quarterback Brayton Wedeman added 74 yards and a touchdown on the ground, while completing 6 of 7 passes for 93 yards with a 40-yard scoring toss to Wesley Mitchell.
Damien Santillanes caught two passes for 18 yards while Sanchez hauled in a 34-yard reception. Guy Powell contributed 20 yards on the ground, and Kolt Bradley rushed for 9 yards.
“Brayton did a really good job,” Maxfield said. “He made one mistake, a bad pitch on the option, but other than that he was real efficient with the offense, made some good throws, made some good runs and showed some athleticism.”
Brent Grooms attempted all the passes for Early, and all-state receiver Timmy Smithson led the way with four grabs for 66 yards and the Longhorns' only touchdown. Alex Jacobs finished with two catches for 19 yards, Tre Beam added two grabs for 11 yards and Tyson Tyler made a 17-yard reception.
On the ground for Early, Cale Wade rushed for 18 yards, Beam added 16 and Smithson finished with 10.
Bangs posted a 3-7 mark in Maxfield's first season with the program, one more win than the Dragons mustered in the previous three campaigns combined. Solid scrimmages against San Saba and Comanche further boosted the Dragons' confidence, which continued to grow by leaps and bounds against Early.
Early was coming off a 4-6 season a year ago, their best under Sandford, which included a 4-1 run through the pre-district slate. The Longhorns opened their campaign with a 60-20 triumph at Bangs.
The Dragons begin the home portion of their schedule next week against Hawley — which blanked Roscoe, 39-0, in its opener — while the Longhorns will remain in Early for the second week in a row as Coleman — coming off a 52-0 loss to Jim Ned — visits.
“It's been a while since Bangs has won the first game of the year, so everything is kind of new for us,” Maxfield said. “The good thing we can take from this is building a little more confidence in our kids. When they have more confidence we can coach them harder and keep going forward.”