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Friday football preview: Miles Homecoming; Winters and Ballinger travel

Staff Writer
Runnels County Register
The Ballinger Bearcats' Garrett Dixon rushes the ball with a cadre' of blockers clearing the way. This week the unbeaten Bearcats will travel to Llano to take on the 4-0 Yellowjackets.

The Miles Bulldogs (2-2) will host the Cross Plains Buffaloes (3-1) on Friday at 7:30 p.m. while Winters will travel to Hico and Ballinger will travel to Llano.

Miles vs Cross Plains

In 2019, the Bulldogs traveled to Cross Plains and were dismantled by the Buffaloes, 42-6. Cross Plains ended the season with the same record as Miles, 7-4. This year both teams have different quarterbacks and have undergone other significant changes. Miles started off the season 0-2 but have found their footing and won their last 2 games.

The Buffaloes started off the season with a 54-6 win against (0-4) Menard. They won the next game against (2-2) Goldthwaite, 28-14. On September 11th, they lost 20-16 to (1-3) Haskell. Last week they defeated the winless De Leon Bearcats 14-7.

Miles should be able to go into this game pounding the ball with their hard charging running backs. The Bulldogs have had some new stars emerge this year while the Old Guard, Joel Garcia, Christian Gutierrez, Brandon Rodriguez, Brayden Dunlap and other seniors have played a leadership role in keeping the Bulldogs moving in the right direction since overcoming their 0-2 record.

The Cross Plains defense can be intimidating, as they showed against Haskell. They held the Indians to 131 yards rushing and 66 yards passing, falling by a mere 4 points. The Bulldogs will certainly have their work cut out for them. The offense is more than capable of putting touchdowns on the board, but it will be the defense that will have to hold the line if the Bulldogs want to come away with a win. The winless De Leon Bearcats were able to rush for 211 yards and pas for 138 yards against Cross Plains, numbers that Miles could easily double.

Winters @ Hico

The Blizzards (0-4) will travel to take on the Hico Tigers (1-3). The Tigers have shown, in their 3 losses, that they are susceptible to a strong running game. They’ve fallen to Moody (1-3) by the score of 7-6, lost 66-0 to Hamilton (2-2) and lost to 39-10 to Junction (3-1).

Winters’ star quarterback, Alex Salas returned from injury on September 18 in a 36-13 loss to Hawley. The Blizzards have a squad of 8 running backs that they’ve used during the season. On average, the Blizzards are putting up over 260 yards of rushing in each game. Their smash-mouth style of football can be tough against larger teams with deeper rosters. But, the Blizzards are going to play their game and make the other team stop them. The Blizzards aren’t a team that change their gameplan in the middle of a game, winning or losing.

Winters on the road to Hico and with a 0-4 record doesn’t give the Tigers a decided advantage against a Blizzards team that is chomping at the bit for their first win.

The Blizzards have a new weapon this year in sophomore running back Aidan Leamon. Against Bangs, Leamon rushed 9 times for 75 yards, an average of 8.3 yards per rush. He also added 2 catches for 29 yards and 1 touchdown.

John Kullen Busher, the stallwart go-to guy in the Blizzards backfield, rushed 12 times for 63 yards against Bangs. Against Eldorado, Busher rushed 10 times for 75 yards and 1 touchdown. The leader of the Winters backfield is senior Malakye Kelly, who rushed 9 times for 60 yards against Eldorado. Houston Esquivel and Matt Jacob have also done their share of work, helping lead a charge that can explode through defensive lines.

When it’s all said and done, this should be a game where the Blizzards top their yearly average of 260 yards per game. It also has the potential to be a game where Salas gets to air out the ball a few more times and bring another dimension to their potent offense.

Ballinger @ Llano

The Ballinger Bearcats started off the year with a 20-14 win against a powerful Jim Ned Indians (3-1) team. The Bearcats hosted the Breckenridge Buckaroos (0-4) the following week and took that game, 13-0. On September 11th the Bearcats took down the Colorado (City) Wolves (0-4), 34-2. Last week Ballinger took down a strong (1-3) Clyde Bulldogs team, 21-14.

This week the Bearcats will go on the road against the 4-0 Llano Yellowjackets. Llano won their first 3 games in convincing fashion, taking down Gatesville (1-3) 45-16, Sonora (0-4) 41-8 and Bandera (0-4) 52-0. Last week the Yellowjackets faced their toughest opponent yet, the San Saba (3-1) Armadillos. Llano came away from that game with a 35-31 win. The Armadillos were able to rush for 244 yards while holding Llano to a mere 97 yards of rushing. Llano was able to pass for 195 yards and 4 touchdowns on 8/18 passing.

The Ballinger defense is a no-nonsense defense, led by seniors such as Adam Winn, Joe Marcus Guerrero, Weston Rollwitz, Aidan Busenlehner, Dylan Hostetter, Colton Belk, and others. Hostetter and Winn have had a great year thus far. It’s taken double teaming by their opponents to try and slow them down.

On the offensive side, Ballinger quarterback Carter Arrott has done all that has been asked of him. The Bearcats’ offense found a challenge last week in the Clyde Bulldogs. They came away from that game with a win but still have a few kinks to work out.

The receiving corps is led by Weston Rollwitz, who has had some phenomenal games rushing and receiving as well as on defense and special teams. Rollwitz has been in on running plays, rushing 3 times for 127 yards and 1 touchdown against Colorado. He’s also scored a touchdown on a punt return.

Senior running back Garrett Dixon leads an offensive backfield that can put quick points up on the board. Rollwitz’ speed and Dixon’s power are explosive, a defensive coordinator’s worst nightmare. With rising star, sophomore Nathan Rivera-McDuffee as well as Beau Perkins in the mix, it can require defenses to play flawless football to keep the Bearcats out of the end zone.

The game should be as tough as any the Bearcats will play during pre-district. Going into Llano and defeating the Yellowjackets isn’t an easy task for any team, but if anyone is up to the challenge, it’s the Ballinger Bearcats.