Winters knocks off Goldthwaite, 34-14; Ballinger stuffs Brady, 20-19, in OT; Miles rumbles past Ranger, 67-14

High school football’s 2018 season could not have started better for Runnels County teams. The Winters Blizzards, Miles Bulldogs and Ballinger Bearcats all started the season with big wins.

Winters, under new head coach Matt McCarty, started off with a win against a solid Goldthwaite Eagles team that went 4-7 in 2017. Winters was 5-6 last season but scored an average of 21 points per game. Winters carries 27 players on varsity while Goldthwaite carries 22. A defensive game was expected to give Winters the advantage.

The game started off slow and defense was the key on both sides of the ball. The teams struggled to score and big offensive plays were called back for penalties. Both teams spent a lot of time knocking off the rust and getting their game plan going. Winters led had halftime but as coach McCarty told me in an interview, “Penalties are killing us. We have to play smarter and get some calls.”

Whatever it was that McCarty said to his players at halftime, worked. They came out in the third quarter, already with an eight point lead, and kept adding to it in the second half. The Blizzards defense hit the Eagles offense with a blitzkrieg and Goldthwaite couldn’t get their running or their passing game in synch. The Eagles scored two touchdowns in the game and each time Winters answered with a score of their own and then some. The Blizzards defense was hitting hard and stopping any runs up the middle and when it came to passing, they were able to pressure the quarterback and keep him contained. With a stalled running game and unsuccessful passing game, many of their first downs were simply due to penalties.

The Winters offense success was due in large part to Slater Lindley. Lindley was running, catching and returning punts. You could hear him yelling at his team after each play and his ability to catch a punt at a full run put the Eagles’ special teams unit on their heels before they ever got down field to cover the return.

Another point that Winters appears to have covered well in practice is their offensive blocking, not just by their line but also by their receivers. If a run/option came out to the edge, the receivers were blocking the defensive backs three yards downfield and giving the runner a good shot at making the corner and getting some positive yards.

Quarterback Jovan Young executed plays efficiently and there was no hesitation on his running plays. He made decisions and powered forward but his footwork could also twist a defender up and have him tackling air in spot Young had been just a split second before.

While the final numbers are not in, Winters is certain to have eclipsed the 300 yard mark in rushing.

 

Ballinger 20, Brady 19 (OT)

 

Ballinger went 2-8 in 2017 with coach Chuck Lipsey and the Bearcats looking to open the 2018 with a big win. They took on Brady Bulldogs squad that finished 2017 at 0-10. Ballinger’s roster carries forty players while Brady’s carries forty-eight. Before the season began, Lipsey told us that he was worried about the depth of their offensive and defensive lines. The coaching staff spent time and worked on conditioning and executing plays correctly. Brady gave up over 41 points per game in 2017 while Ballinger gave up 35. An offensive game would figure to be an even matchup with both teams scoring only an average of seventeen points per game last season. Both teams lost seniors in skill positions to graduation so there would be many questions to answer with this first game.

Ballinger fought Brady to a 13-13 tie at the end of regulation. In overtime both teams scored a touchdown with Ballinger converting the point-after attempt and Brady failing theirs, resulting in a 20-19 win for the Bearcats. The game was much closer than it probably should have been but the Bearcats dug deep and punched out a win. It still remains to be seen how their line will hold up against deeper opponents in the future, but if they can build on this success they can pull out significant wins in games that they might be expected to otherwise lose.

 

Miles 67, Ranger 14

 

Miles Bulldogs coach Charles Boles announced his arrival with a thrashing of the Ranger Bulldogs. It was a Bulldogs vs Bulldogs fight that was never in question as Miles punched the scoreboard repeatedly for 67 points while allowing Ranger a token 14 points. Miles’ senior running back Mason Bryan ran amok against Ranger, dismantling them on 13 rushes for 312 yards and six touchdowns. Ranger never had an answer for Bryan’s power or agility, or for the offensive line that pushed them around the field at will. Neither Miles nor Ranger had a successful 2017 with Miles going 2-9 and Ranger going 1-9. Miles scored an anemic nineteen points per game last season and they’re looking to turn it around this season. Putting sixty-seven points on the board is a good start.

It didn’t take Miles long to get the machine running smoothly. At the end of the first quarter they were up by a score of 8-0. Both teams appeared to be getting their feet under them as Ranger, who beat Miles last year, put fourteen points on the board in the second quarter, the only fourteen points that they’d score in the game. That quickly paled in comparison to the thirty-nine points that Miles ran up on the scoreboard in just the second quarter alone, in video game-numbers fashion. They were able to pound the football and keep the defense guessing the entire time. Ranger was simply outplayed on defense while Miles precisely executed many of their offensive plays. Miles came storming into the second half and put another 13 points on the board. They finished the game with seven more points in the fourth quarter to bring their score to staggering 67 points.

Boles and his staff worked tirelessly to get the team ready for his inaugural season as their head coach. The work on all three areas, offense, defense and special teams appears to have paid off and will continue to pay dividends in the future. His coaching talent and skill coupled with the hard work of him and his staff may have brought Miles high school football to another level. The players appear to have bought in to his coaching philosophy and their success in a big win will carry over when they take on a tough Roby team that went 6-4 last season.

 

Week 2 previews

 

Ballinger (1-0) has a home game as the Bearcats take on Reagan County (1-0). Last season the Reagan County rolled into Ballinger and beat the Bearcats by a score of 38-20. In their first game of 2018, Reagan County put 51 points on Stanton and only gave up 14. A high scoring game may favor Ballinger while a defensive affair would give the edge to Reagan County. Coach Lipsey will have his squad prepared for a fight and while the game may prove to be tight, the Bearcats should come away with a win at home.

Winters (1-0) will travel to take on Eldorado (1-0). The Eldorado Eagles won two games last season and started this season with a 54-18 win against an understaffed Texas Leadership Charter Academy (TLCA) team that only has thirteen players on their roster. Coach McCarty will have the Blizzards ready to stamp a second win on their season. The game is sure to be a tough fight but it will be hard for the Eagles to stall the Blizzards, either on defense or offense. Special teams might prove to be the edge in this game if it comes down to a slugfest.

The Roby Lions (0-1) will roar into town and try to escape with a win against the Miles Bulldogs (1-0). Coach Boles isn’t likely to let that happen. Roby only put six points up against Olney in the first game of the season. Olney went 0-10 last season and Roby was expected to make a better showing. Miles’ roster depth is about twice that of Roby and the Bulldogs defense will be expected to put a bite on the Lions and keep them scoreless. Unless the Lions catch the defense napping on one or two big plays, the Bulldogs will be unleashed and should thunder through. The Bulldogs’ offense should handle the Lions and give Boles his second straight win of 2018.