The Runnels County high school football season got off to a stellar start as all three programs recorded opening night victories this past Friday. The Miles Bulldogs routed Ranger, 58-6; the Winters Blizzards blanked Goldthwaite, 21-0; and the Ballinger Bearcats held off Brady for a 26-22 triumph. The following is a recap of Week 1 action:

 

Miles 58, Ranger 6

 

 The game started off bad for Ranger and only worsened over 4 quarters. The Miles Bulldogs took advantage of some Ranger mistakes and put an exclamation point on the game with their defense. Middle Linebacker, sophomore Joel Garcia (#52), was the key to many of the defensive stands. He was all over the field as he and the rest of the defense quickly slammed the door on any opening that a Ranger running back had.

 This was the first year for Miles quarterback Davian Martinez to helm the offense. His arm was just as effective as his feet and the Bulldogs ability to open up the offense with the passing game allowed them to move up and down the field at-will.

 The first quarter started off poorly for Ranger when they had a bad snap on their third snap of the game. The ball went into the end zone and Miles recovered it for a safety to take a 2-0 lead. Ranger kicked off and Miles made a mistake of their own when the returner muffed the catch and Ranger recovered it with great field position. They moved the ball down field but turned it over on downs. Miles took over on offense and fumbled the ball with Ranger recovering it with excellent field position. Ranger was able to put their one and only touchdown on the board to take a 6-2 lead with 2:57 to go in the first quarter. It would be the last time that they would have the lead.

After Miles took the ball on the kickoff, Davian Martinez promptly threw a touchdown to senior Jose Mata (#5) for an 8-2 lead. A bad snap on the extra point attempt kept the score 8-2 with 35 seconds to go but an offside penalty against Ranger gave Miles a second wind. Instead of kicking the extra point, the Bulldogs rant a successful 2-point conversion with Martinez taking the ball into the end zone.

 Miles’ offense played an up-tempo game the entire time. They wore the Ranger defense down, with Ranger players breathing hard with their hands on their hips between each play.

 Miles kicked off to Ranger and the offense fumbled the ball a couple of plays later. The fumble came as their quarterback attempted to handoff to the running back.

 Martinez showed a lot of maturity as he managed the offense. He was able to look down the field for an open receiver and if there wasn’t one, he could check down to the receiver in the flat.

 There wasn’t much that Miles did poorly. Their quarterback play was great, the defense was excellent and the offensive line opened lanes on the running plays and protected Martinez on the passing plays. Miles scored 10-points in the first quarter, 21 in the second quarter, 20 in the third quarter and 7 in the 4th quarter on their way to the 58-6 win. It was a quality game for the Bulldogs as they showed a lot of heart and tenacity.

 This Friday the Bulldogs will take on San Angelo’s TLCA. The Eagles dropped their first game to Eldorado by a score of 47-6.

 

Ballinger 26, Brady 22

 

 Penalties were the name of the game in Ballinger’s 26-22 win against Brady. The teams combined for 16 penalties. Ballinger received 10 penalties for 100 yards and Brady received 6 penalties for 65 yards. The penalties were called consistently, such as Ballinger receiving a penalty for their players coming onto the field during a long play and one quarter later Brady did the same thing and was called for it as well. The penalties were for 15 yards each.

  Ballinger did a lot of things really well during the game. Senior quarterback Edgar Nunez hit 8 of 21 passes for 109 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception. He also carried the ball 18 times for 55 yards. Cooper Bean rushed 7 times for 46 yards and senior running back Darin Hall rushed 6 times for 22 yards. The Brady defense could be stifling at times but the penalties tended to negate big plays by the Bearcats. Junior wide receiver Weston Rollwitz had a solid game as he pulled in 4 catches for 106 yards and 1 touchdown.

 The Ballinger defense stepped up when the going was tough and stopped Brady time and again as they protected their narrow lead. Tyler Vaughn and Garrett Dixon each pulled in an interception. Vaughn caught an interception in the end zone as time was winding down and Brady was trying to take the last minute lead.

 It was a solid performance by Ballinger who trusts that their defense can stand up to offenses throughout the game. They made big plays when they needed to.

 Even though there were mishaps and penalties, Ballinger can fine-tune their plays and execution as they prepare to travel to take on the Reagan County Owls. Reagan County dropped their first game of the season to Stanton by a score of 20-12.

 

Winters 21, Goldthwaite 0

 

 If it’s one thing that coach Matt McCarty and his crew of coaches have worked hard with the players on the last few years, it’s defense. The hard work has paid off and with McCarty in his 5th season he’s had the seniors under his leadership for all 4 years of high school. They have grown up in his system and know it inside and out. It showed in their 21-0 win over Goldthwaite.

 First year starting quarterback Alex Salas lead an offense that pounded way on the Eagles’ defense. They didn’t put up video-game numbers on Goldthwaite but that isn’t the Blizzards’ brand of football. They get the lead and the defense holds the lead. Salas showed a keen ability to read the defenses and make good decisions.

  The offense was able to capitalize on good field position as the defense continually kept the Eagles pinned deep in their own territory. Once the Blizzards had the lead, they never looked back. The defensive line played solid, as did the linebackers and defensive backs.

 Winters will host the Eldorado Eagles this Friday. The Eagles won their first game of the year against San Angelo’s TLCA by a score of 47-6. They’re sure to come onto the Blizzards’ home turf expecting a win. McCarty and his grinders will have to continue their excellent defensive play if they want to defeat the Eagles.