BANGS — The Bangs Dragons are poised to secure their first postseason berth since 2014 as they welcome San Angelo TLCA in their home finale at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The Dragons (5-3, 3-2) are targeting their third consecutive victory while TLCA (1-7, 1-4) is seeking just its second win of the year after being outscored 156-0 the last two weeks.
Bangs has defeated Merkel (47-6) and Coleman (44-21) in consecutive weeks, while TLCA is coming off losses to Anson (81-0) and Cisco (75-0) following its lone win over Grape Creek (8-6). TLCA is ranked 105th out of 105 Class 3A Division II teams by Harris Ratings Weekly this week.
“We talked about it with the kids, and we have to worry about ourselves and respect everybody we play,” said Bangs second-year head coach Kyle Maxfield. “We're just trying to get better at what we do this week.”
A Bangs win, or a Coleman loss to Ballinger, would secure a postseason berth for the Dragons.
“It means a lot to our kids, our community and our program,” Maxfield said of being on the verge of reaching the playoffs. “It's nice to see the hard work that our kids put in give us an opportunity to enjoy what the postseason brings.”
The Dragons head into the contest averaging 32 points and 321 yards per game, with 249 of those yards coming on the ground. In last week's victory over Coleman, Bangs rushed for a season-high 444 yards and finished with 446 yards of total offense.
“We've gotten better up front and that's the main key,” Maxfield said of the stellar ground game. “Knock on wood we stay healthy. Ethan Sanchez, we knew what he could do and he just keeps on doing his thing. Brayton Wedeman has really progressed from the first game up until now running the ball. Guy Powell, being the youngster that he is, he's been able to grow on Friday nights, too. It's worked out where all three of those guys are able to contribute in the run game.”
Sanchez leads the way for Bangs with 1,013 yards and 16 touchdowns on 148 carries, Wedeman has gained 590 yards on 67 carries with 10 touchdowns and Powell has picked up 365 yards on 47 carries and scored three touchdowns.
Through the air — where the Dragons average 72 yards per outing — Wedeman has completed 34 of 55 passes for 547 yards with five touchdowns and five interceptions. Leading receivers include Powell (10-132, 2 TDs), Wesley Mitchell (7-93, 2 TDs), Sanchez (5-125), Damien Santillanes (4-22), Riley Taylor (3-45) and Trevor Bowers (2-74, 2 TDs).
Defensively, the Dragons are yielding 24 points and 295 yards — 178 on the ground and 117 through the air — per outing.
Standouts include Sanchez (56.5 tackles, 3 TFL), Hayden King (55 tackles, 5 TFL, 2 sacks), Eli Carbajal (45 tackles, 5 TFL, 1 sack, 1 INT), Powell (44.5 tackles, 3 TFL), Santillanes
(42.5 tackles, 4 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 FR), Taylor (37.5 tackles, 3 FRs, 1 INT), Mitchell (31 tackles, 2 INTs), Trey Ivey (22 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 FR), Bowers (20.5 tackles), Brandon Robinson (18.5 tackles, 1 TFL), Rylan Cates (17 tackles, 2 TFL), Cael John (16 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack), Charlie Smith (14 tackles), Wyatt Lykins (10.5 tackles, 1 FR) and Kolt Bradley (10 tackles, 1 sack).
“We saw glimpses of us being a pretty good defense in the scrimmages because against San Saba and Comanche you have to strap it on pretty tight,” Maxfield said. “Anson kind of put it on us, but they can attack you so many different ways and put your defense in a bind. Other than that game, I feel like most games we've gotten better. That Anson game we might have taken a step back but that was more because of what Anson was doing, not what we didn't do. We feel like we're getting to the ball better, playing with lower pads and tackling better.”
Players to watch for TLCA include Sterling Harding, J.R. Wilson, Seth Levesque, Eddie Carranco, Daunte Sykes, Ivan Oviedo and Junior Lopez.
According to Harris Ratings Weekly, there is no line for this game. Bangs is ranked 59 points higher than TLCA this week.