MERKEL - Ballinger kept this game close until late in the final quarter. They would eventually fall 25-7 to the Merkel Badgers.

MERKEL - Ballinger kept this game close until late in the final quarter. They would eventually fall 25-7 to the Merkel Badgers.

Merkel scored twice in the first half and looked like they would run away early before the Bearcat defense stiffened up and prevented another score until the final quarter. A second quarter touchdown by Cooper Bean made the game 12-7 at the half and there were several moments when it looked like Ballinger was about to turn the corner on their season.

The Bearcats' main issue right now is not being able to run the ball on offense. A line that returns five varsity players from a year ago does not look like they are gelling very well at the moment. There are no holes for the running backs to run through and on the rare occasion there are, they close quickly.

Without the threat of a run game defensive backs are being able to play receivers closely knowing the ball is going through the air. Against Merkel they were able to gain 32 yards on 19 attempts. Against Clyde the Bearcats gained 121 yards, but much of that did not come until the fourth quarter when the game had long since been decided.

Against Comanche the Bearcats only had 48 rushing yards. Getting this running game moving consistently is going to be key to how successful the Bearcats will be during district play.

Next the Bearcats travel to Junction to play the Eagles September 29, before returning home the following week to host Mason.