AREA HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Preview capsules for tonight's Belton-Bryan and Salado-Robinson games
By GREG WILLE
– DISTRICT 12-6A –
BELTON TIGERS (2-3, 2-0)
at BRYAN VIKINGS (2-1, 1-1)
7:30 p.m. Friday, Merrill Green Stadium
Last week: Belton 26, Copperas Cove 14; Temple 44, Bryan 7
Last meeting: 2013 – Bryan 44, Belton 35
Game notes: An 0-3 record during its non-district schedule is becoming a distant memory for Belton, which can even its overall mark at 3-3 and, more important, remain tied for the District 12-6A lead with Temple and possibly Killeen Shoemaker at 3-0 if the Tigers of first-year head coach Brett Sniffin win tonight in Bryan. . . . On the flip side, Bryan is seeking to bounce back from last week's one-sided loss at Temple and beat Belton, which would move the Vikings of veteran head coach Ross Rogers to 2-1 in district and give them the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Tigers. . . . Belton's offense produced a strong and balanced performance against Copperas Cove in only the Tigers' second game of the season at Tiger Field after three consecutive road trips. Senior quarterback Ruben Jimenez passed for 227 yards and two touchdowns – hitting senior Kanyn Utley four times for 102 yards and a score – and senior workhorse Maurice Reed ran for 146 yards and a TD to pace a 205-yard rushing attack. . . . Tigers junior tight end Bryan “Itty” Henry is a weapon, having made 18 catches for 271 yards and three TDs. . . . Belton's defense, which allows 307.8 yards per game, limited the Bulldawgs to 289 total yards and recovered two fumbles. . . . Senior linebacker Joe Sniffin leads Belton with 34 tackles, junior linebacker Sam Ramirez has 29 stops and Aaron Bain has 26 tackles plus two interceptions to share the team lead with fellow junior defensive back Trent West. . . . Bryan has played only three of the first five games on its original schedule, with COVID-19 factors within the program forcing the Vikings to cancel their final two non-district games. . . . After making a late defensive stand at home to beat Harker Heights in its 12-6A opener, Bryan played tough at Temple into the second quarter before the Wildcats exploded and ran away for the 37-point victory. . . . Sophomore quarterback Malcom Gooden leads Bryan's offense with 266 passing yards and two touchdowns and 255 rushing yards and two TDs. Junior Tason Devault has rushed for 207 yards and two scores. The top receiver is junior Hunter Vivaldi – grandson of Bryan's head coach – with 12 catches for 194 yards and two TDs. . . . Senior cornerback Kenny Collins and junior linebacker Nic Caraway are key players on a Bryan defense that will aim to redeem itself after allowing 482 yards against Temple a week ago.
– DISTRICT 9-4A DIVISION II –
ROBINSON ROCKETS (2-7, 0-4) at
No. 6 SALADO EAGLES (8-1, 4-0)
7:30 p.m. Friday, Eagle Stadium
Last week: Class 4A Division II No. 8-ranked China Spring 70, Robinson 0; No. 6 Salado 47, Jarrell 0
Last year: Salado 31, Robinson 28
Game notes: One week after clinching at least a share of the District 9-4A Division II championship with a shutout at Jarrell, Salado seeks to seize the outright title tonight on its home turf. Coach Alan Haire's surging Eagles aren't expected to have much difficulty doing so against last-place Robinson, which was blown out last week. Salado owns a one-game lead over China Spring and Waco Connally, teams it defeated in back-to-back showdowns. . . . Salado is playing for the 10th consecutive week. The Eagles finally will get to take an open date next week before they play a bi-district playoff game the following week. . . . Salado is unbeaten against 4A competition this season, with its only loss being a 21-7 home setback on Sept. 4 against undefeated Grandview, the two-time defending state champion in 3A Division I. . . . Salado continues to ride its relentless Slot-T rushing attack to great success behind effective blocking by its linemen. The Eagles have run for 3,491 yards (387.9 per game), paced by senior Noah Mescher's 1,247 yards and 17 touchdowns. Senior Reid Vincent (993 yards, seven TDs) aims to surpass the 1,000-yard milestone tonight, versatile senior Wrook Brown has 520 yards and 10 TDs on only 47 carries and sophomore Caden Strickland has rushed for 482 yards and nine TDs. . . . The Eagles' defense has allowed only 32 points in four district games and 257.7 yards per game overall this season. . . . Six players have made at least 49 tackles for Salado's balanced defense: Brown (73), Kofi Stoglin (68), Josh Huckabee (64), Peyton Miller (55), Lucas Morvant (54) and LaTrell Jenkins (49). . . . Robinson has struggled in head coach Robert Rubel's first season, being outscored 339-128 overall and 166-40 during district play. . . . The Rockets' best shot to escape the league cellar came Oct. 9 against Jarrell, but they fell 30-27 to the Cougars.