• Greg Wille

PART OF THE GAME: Temple tries to fill in for injured LB Moore entering scrimmage vs. Killeen, Manor


OUT OF ACTION: Temple senior weakside linebacker Zion Moore, shown making an interception during the Wildcats' district-opening victory at Bryan last September, will miss an indefinite amount of time after he suffered a broken ankle at practice Tuesday, head coach Scott Stewart said Thursday. Moore made 54 tackles and two interceptions at strong safety/outside linebacker in 2021 and was selected first-team all-district in 12-6A. At 7 p.m. Friday, Temple will compete against Killeen and Manor in a three-way scrimmage at Manor Athletic Complex. The Wildcats' season opener is against McKinney at noon next Saturday at McKinney ISD Stadium. (File photo by Mike Lefner, Temple ISD/Special to TempleBeltonSports.com)




By GREG WILLE

TempleBeltonSports.com

gwille2@hot.rr.com


The first two weeks of preseason training camp for the Temple Wildcats football team have mostly gone well and according to plan, seventh-year head coach Scott Stewart reported Thursday afternoon.

But in a reminder that football is a physical, violent sport in which injuries occur, Temple lost senior weakside linebacker Zion Moore – a first-team all-district outside linebacker last year – to a broken ankle at Tuesday’s practice.

“Fluke deal. He came up to set the edge and a kid comes out to try to block him, so Zion kind of shucks him off and (senior linebacker) Taurean (York) is running through and I guess the kid just decided to redirect,” Stewart said. “Taurean didn’t even hit him; he just kind of threw a flipper at him and knocked him off-balance, and Zion just rolled up on his own.”

Moore ranked fourth on Temple’s defense with 54 tackles last season and grabbed two interceptions. Stewart said Moore was scheduled to have a doctor further examine the severity of his injury Thursday and likely will miss at least two weeks of action, even if he gets favorable news.

“They feel like there was a hairline crack in there, so we’ll have to see. They’re going to let the swelling go down,” Stewart said. “Obviously if it requires surgery he’ll be out a while. If not, he’ll be back in a couple weeks. Any time you talk about injuries, you never know. There’s nothing definitive right now.”

Stewart said seniors Eric Zavala and Teryon Williams-Echols and junior Mason Mills are among the players who will attempt to fill in on a by-committee basis during Moore’s absence. The coach added that first-team all-district senior defensive end Jaylon Jackson also could slide to Moore’s position in some defensive alignments.

Coming off a 9-3 season and its second consecutive unbeaten District 12-6A championship, Temple will begin its regular season against McKinney at noon next Saturday at McKinney ISD Stadium. Its home opener against Willis is Sept. 2 at 7:30 p.m. on the newly installed artificial turf of Bob McQueen Field at Wildcat Stadium.

The Wildcats will aim to keep preparing for the upcoming season and avoid any additional major health setbacks when they travel Friday to Manor Athletic Complex for a three-way scrimmage with Killeen and Manor. The junior varsity scrimmage is set for a 5:30 p.m. start, followed by the varsity scrimmage at 7.

Temple and Killeen were District 12-6A opponents during the 2018-21 seasons, but the Kangaroos have dropped into Class 5A Division I along with former 12-6A members Killeen Ellison and Killeen Shoemaker.

Killeen’s new head coach is Josh Sadler, who was Temple’s offensive coordinator for five seasons before he accepted the Kangaroos job on June 9. Killeen made only one playoff appearance (2016) in seven seasons with head coach Neil Searcy, who departed to become Gainesville’s head coach.

Manor compiled a 9-3 record last season (6-1 in district) and advanced to the area round of the 5A Division I playoffs before losing 58-22 to eventual state champion Katy Paetow.

Third-year head coach James Keller and the Mustangs have an outstanding senior running back in Quinten Joyner, who’s verbally committed to Southern California. The 5-foot-10, 190-pound Joyner, rated as a four-star recruit, rushed for 2,494 yards (11.2 per carry) and 31 touchdowns last season.

The controlled portion of Friday evening’s three-team scrimmage begins at 7 and will feature a sequence of six 12-play series, with one team off the field for each session.

Killeen’s offense and Manor’s defense will play the opening series before Temple’s defense takes on Manor’s offense. The third series pits Temple’s offense against Killeen’s defense. Temple’s offense then will face Manor’s defense before the Wildcats take a break and finish with their defense going against Killeen’s offense.

When the controlled segment ends, the scrimmage will shift to three live quarters with a 12-minute running clock, and each team will play two quarters. Temple gets a rest as Killeen and Manor play the first quarter before the Wildcats take on Manor. The final quarter will be a Temple-Killeen matchup.

The coaching staffs will be allowed on the field during the controlled portion but must move to the sidelines or the press box during the live quarters. Field goals and extra points will be attempted, and penalties will be marked off during the live segment. Defenses will be allowed to hit quarterbacks who run out of the pocket.

Stewart said some of his more established players might not play a large amount of snaps in the scrimmage.

“We’re going to let them play for a little bit. I just want to see how it goes. We’re not going to have a ton of time out there,” said Stewart, who’s 57-19 with six playoff trips and 10 postseason wins in six seasons at the helm. “All three coaches are like, ‘Hey, we’re playing next week.’

“I’ve never done a three-way scrimmage. I’ve heard people who love it. I’ve heard people who hate it. The underlying theme here is you’re probably not going to get as many plays. We may hold some guys back during the live quarters, but we need to play.”

Stewart had high marks for the development of junior quarterback Reese Rumfield, who earned first-team all-district recognition after passing for 1,831 yards and 24 touchdowns against seven interceptions as a sophomore. Rumfield is being instructed by new offensive coordinator Robby Case and a new quarterbacks coach Brad Stanfield.

Left-handed sophomore Kade Stewart, son of Temple’s head coach, also is getting repetitions at quarterback, although he’s projected to play that spot on the Wildcats’ top junior varsity team this season while star senior receiver/safety Mikal Harrison-Pilot and junior safety Damarion Willis provide QB depth on varsity.

As far as special teams, Temple’s kicking, kickoffs and punting will be handled by some combination of senior Mateo Lopez and juniors Allen Hernandez and Marcos Garcia.

Scott Stewart said preseason camp has been productive thus far, with seniors such as two-time 12-6A Defensive MVP York (Baylor commitment), Harrison-Pilot, safety Naeten Mitchell (New Mexico State) and safety Steve Jackson – a move-in from Troy – setting the pace for a talented group of sophomores that includes safeties O’Ryan Peoples and Deavonte Carr, cornerback Lezlie Jackson, wide receiver Christian Tutson and running back Adrian Scott.

The coach also praised the strong camp performances of senior safety/cornerback Josh Donoso. His older brother Johnny Donoso, a versatile defensive back, was unable to play his senior football season last year because of a knee injury.

“I like their practice attitude and we’ve got good senior leadership,” Stewart said. “One thing we’ve done this year is practice the freshmen with everybody else so that they can see that.”

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