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CHANGE OF PLANS: After scrambling to secure scrimmage, Temple, Killeen get plenty of beneficial work

ON TARGET: With Temple head coach Scott Stewart looking on from behind, junior quarterback Reese Rumfield throws a pass during the Wildcats' scrimmage against Killeen on Friday evening at Leo Buckley Stadium in Killeen. Rumfield threw two touchdown passes to senior Mikal Harrison-Pilot and one to sophomore Christian Tutson as Temple prepared for its season opener at McKinney at noon next Saturday. (Photo by Mike Lefner, Temple ISD/Special to


KILLEEN – Talk about calling an audible.

When Friday began, the Temple and Killeen football teams were planning to travel to Manor to take on the Mustangs in a three-way scrimmage.

By the middle of the afternoon, however, the threat of inclement weather in the Manor area led to that event being canceled. Having already scrimmaged against Austin Bowie last week, Manor didn’t feel the need to scramble to make other scrimmage arrangements.

Temple and Killeen certainly did, though.

On short notice, Wildcats seventh-year head coach Scott Stewart and Kangaroos first-year head coach Josh Sadler – Temple’s offensive coordinator until early June – got together and quickly arranged for the scrimmage to move to Leo Buckley Stadium on the Killeen High School campus.

Manor decided not to travel and participate, so it was left to old rivals Temple and Killeen to meet on the same turf where the Wildcats defeated the Kangaroos 44-6 last Oct. 29 in District 12-6A action.

And in cloudy and unseasonably cool conditions, both Temple and Killeen experienced all the elements of a typical preseason scrimmage – explosive plays, hard hits, intensity, dropped passes, missed assignments, other correctable mistakes and, of course, game-type conditioning.

“Hey, stick and move, baby. Calling officials, calling administrations . . . you’ve got to get it done when you’ve got to get it done,” Stewart said as steady rain – an extremely rare sight this summer -- fell after the nearly 2-hour scrimmage concluded. “We needed to see that. We needed to hit somebody. We needed some full-speed, physical football.

“Killeen played hard, and they’re a Josh Sadler-led team, so there’s zero questions about what that’s going to look like intensity- and effort-wise.”

After the controlled segment of the scrimmage, Temple scored two touchdowns during the two live quarters of timed action to Killeen’s one TD. Wildcats junior quarterback and returning starter Reese Rumfield fired scoring passes of 65 and 13 yards to senior wide receiver Mikal Harrison-Pilot. The Roos got a 1-yard run from Kardae Hicks.

Sadler, who coached with Stewart at Temple from 2016 until he accepted Killeen’s job offer June 9, credited his district administrators for quickly making the arrangements to ensure that the Wildcats and Kangaroos could have a competitive scrimmage before both teams begin the regular season next week.

“When you’ve got a great team like that, it’s not (difficult). The high school admin team and the athletic admin team, they made it happen,” Sadler said. “I made a phone call and it was like bam-bam-bam. They planned everything. It was amazing.”

The scrimmage did not lack intensity and hard hitting, and pushing, shoving and penalty flags after the whistle were a common occurrence. Both head coaches didn’t mind watching that kind of energy.

“You crack an adult beverage and we get that close to fighting every time,” Stewart joked about his relationship with Sadler. “But it’s a bunch of passionate kids, and I haven’t seen that out of Killeen in a while, you know what I mean? There’s a fine line there, but that’s not all bad.”

A Killeen program that hasn’t reached the playoffs didn’t seem intimidated by a Temple program that’s seeking its 10th consecutive postseason trip and has only one 12-6A loss in the last three seasons.

“I’d like to think it’s a little bit of that culture we’re trying to build here,” Sadler said. “It’s something we’re pushing right now – to be intense, to play hard, to do things the right way. It’s the culture piece right now.”

Right after that, Stewart and Sadler shared a hearty embrace near midfield and said they love each other before Sadler yelled out to Stewart that he might be calling him for some head coaching tips.

Temple’s season opener is against McKinney at noon next Saturday at McKinney ISD Stadium. Sadler’s debut game with Killeen is next Friday night against new Killeen ISD school Chaparral – coached by former Salado coach Alan Haire – at Joseph L. Searles III Stadium on the Bobcats’ campus.

NOWHERE TO GO: Several Temple defenders swarm a Killeen running back during the teams' scrimmage Friday evening at Killeen's Leo Buckley Stadium. The Kangaroos' first-year head coach is former Wildcats offensive coordinator Josh Sadler, whose squad's season opener is against new Killeen ISD school Chaparral next Friday. (Photo by Mike Lefner, Temple ISD/Special to

The scrimmage began with the controlled portion, a sequence of 12-play series that matched up the teams’ starting offenses and defenses and also the second-string units.

On the opening series, Rumfield’s 21-yard pass to Harrison-Pilot and a 27-yard burst off right tackle by senior running back Deshaun Brundage helped Temple march to the 1-yard line before Brundage rushed in for the touchdown.

Killeen answered on its first possession, getting a 51-yard completion by quarterback Roderick Norman and reaching the 5 before Norman scrambled and raced to the right side for a touchdown.

Temple’s top defense was playing without senior weakside linebacker Zion Moore, whom Stewart said could miss six to eight weeks after having surgery Friday on his broken ankle, and junior lineman Ayden Brown (knee), last year’s 12-6A Defensive Newcomer of the Year.

The Wildcats’ second-unit offense then recorded a big-play touchdown with sophomore Kade Stewart, the head coach’s son, at quarterback. Senior receiver and Cameron Yoe transfer Pharrell Hemphill ran a slant route from the left side, caught the left-hander's pass and sprinted in untouched for a 53-yard score.

Later, Rumfield was well-protected as he rolled right and lofted a deep pass that sophomore receiver Christian Tutson beat his defender to grab for a 40-yard touchdown.

The Wildcats then had a defensive breakdown that allowed a Kangaroos TD. From the Temple 32, Teekoree Landours dragged across the field to his left and no defender was within 20 yards of him when he caught Norman’s pass for a score.

Rymond Johnson ran effectively for Temple’s No. 2 offense. He charged off right tackle for a 32-yard run and later that drive zipped around the left edge and dived into the end zone for an 8-yard touchdown.

Two long-range passes highlighted the action in the first live quarter.

Temple got the first possession and four-star recruit Harrison-Pilot beat his man to catch Rumfield’s deep pass at the Killeen 20 before cruising in for the 65-yard touchdown.

“I thought Reese looked sharp. We were trying to work on our base stuff. We weren’t really ‘attacking’ them,” Stewart said. “It was nice to see Reese see the field. (New quarterbacks coach Brad) Stanfield is doing a great job with that kid. And Kade had one snafu but I thought he managed the game pretty well for a sophomore.”

Not to be outdone, Landours sparked the Roos’ first possession by catching Norman’s bomb and carrying his defender to the 10 for a 65-yard gain, followed by Hicks' 1-yard TD rush.

“We had a lot of sophomore eyes, especially in the defensive backfield. We’ll coach them through it,” Stewart said. “That’s great experience, because they’re going to have to learn how to work through that frustration. That’s a miserable feeling. I’ve been there. The ones who handle it the right way usually end up being pretty good.”

The Wildcats made the final scoring statement as Harrison-Pilot, a few plays after he dropped a crossing pass that he might have turned into a touchdown, slanted from the left and grabbed Rumfield’s precise throw for the 13-yard TD.

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