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  • Greg Wille

WEEK 4 AREA FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Lake Belton seeks 4-0 start vs. Yoe; big tests await Academy, Rogers

BUZZING AROUND: Academy junior wide receiver Scout Brazeal (5), shown making a catch during last year's bi-district playoff game against Hallettsville, has caught 16 passes for an area-leading 406 yards and has scored four touchdowns for the 3-0 Bumblebees, who play at 2-0 Lago Vista in a non-district duel at 7:30 p.m. Friday. (File photo by Dean Kibler/Special to


After scoring back-to-back wins on the road, the Lake Belton Broncos will seek to make it a 4-0 start to their season when they host winless Cameron Yoe at 7 p.m. Friday at Tiger Field on the Belton High School campus.

Lake Belton (3-0) followed its 26-14 victory at Class 5A Division I Fort Worth Arlington Heights by recording a 28-20 win at 3A Division I Poteet a week ago.

Coach Brian Cope’s Broncos went 9-1 last year in their inaugural season against a junior varsity schedule. This is the first season of varsity competition for Lake Belton, which is playing a 10-game independent schedule and will move into a University Interscholastic League district for the first time next season.

Meanwhile, Yoe (0-3) is searching for its first win following losses to Lago Vista (64-62 in triple overtime), Bellville (41-26) and 3A Division II No. 1-ranked Franklin 41-21.

Rick Rhoades is in the first season of his second stint as the Yoemen’s head coach. He previously coached Yoe from 2009-15 and guided the Yoemen to three straight state championships from 2012-14 before a state runner-up finish in his final season. He coached Gregory-Portland to a 26-23 record from 2016-20.

This season the Yoemen have scored an average of 36.3 points per game – senior quarterback Ryan Muniz has passed for 531 yards and six touchdowns – but have been slowed by a defense that’s allowed 48.7 points per contest. Senior linebacker Fabian Salomon paces Yoe with 43 tackles and junior linebacker Colton Barbo has made 30 stops.

The triggerman for Lake Belton’s productive, balanced offense is junior quarterback Connor Crews, who’s passed for 720 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 144 yards and three TDs. Junior running back D’Arius Wilkerson has rushed for 222 yards and four touchdowns, while sophomore receiver Micah Hudson has been Crews’ top target with 23 catches for 345 yards and two TDs.

Junior tight end Daud Kahn delivered a stellar performance against Poteet, making eight receptions for 149 yards and one touchdown.

Lake Belton’s defense allowed only six points in the final three quarters at Poteet, and junior linebacker Manuel Herrera returned an interception 45 yards for a touchdown. Junior safety Javeon Wilcox leads Broncos defenders with 37 tackles, junior defensive back Bruce Onchweri has 24 stops and junior linebacker Connor Brennan has collected 22 tackles.

This will be Lake Belton’s first home game since its season-opening 42-21 victory over 4A Division II Mexia.

Salado shoots to snap two-game

losing streak in long-awaited

home opener against Mexia

SALADO – Following two consecutive losses on the road against high-quality opponents, the Salado Eagles finally get an opportunity to play a home game when they host the Mexia Blackcats in a matchup of 1-2 teams at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Eagle Stadium.

Salado seeks its first win since it slugged Troy 62-0 on Aug. 27 in the season opener at Mary Hardin-Baylor’s Crusader Stadium in Belton. Coach Alan Haire’s Eagles were edged 32-28 a week later at Class 3A Division II fourth-ranked Grandview, then couldn’t keep up with unbeaten Stephenville in a 48-21 road defeat last Friday.

Salado’s Slot-T rushing attack has gotten a combined 833 yards and seven touchdowns from senior Aidan Wilson and juniors Seth Reavis and Caden Strickland. Reavis has caught two of the four TD passes thrown by senior quarterback Hutton Haire.

The Eagles’ defense seeks to bounce back after allowing Stephenville to pass for 376 yards and five touchdowns. Salado’s leaders in tackles are Nic Bates with 33, Josh Huckabee with 31, Nolan Miller with 30 and Braydon Sumners with 29.

Salado completes its non-district schedule next Friday at home against Taylor, then after an open week the Eagles will begin defense of their District 9-4A Division II championship on Oct. 8 at Gatesville.

Mexia pulled out a 34-28 win over Troy on Sept. 3 but lost 63-21 to Navasota last week.

Academy shoots for 4-0 start

in showdown at 2-0 Lago Vista

LITTLE RIVER-ACADEMY – After recording three consecutive wins in impressive fashion to begin its season, Academy aims to complete an unbeaten run through non-district play when the Bumblebees play at Lago Vista (2-0) at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

It’s a rematch of Academy’s 13-0 home win over the Vikings a year ago. The Bees, playoff qualifiers in 2020, are 7-0 in non-district games with second-year coach Chris Lancaster.

Academy began this season with home wins over rival Rogers (38-28) and Clifton (35-7) before the Bees went on the road and defeated Groesbeck 41-20 last week.

Meanwhile, Lago Vista opened its season by earning a 64-62, triple-overtime win at Cameron Yoe before the Vikings shut out Teague 28-0 a week later. Lago Vista had an open date last week.

Academy sophomore and first-year starting quarterback Kasey Mraz has been effective, completing 33 of 48 passes for 658 yards and nine touchdowns against one interception. Senior Darion Franklin has made five touchdown receptions to go along with two TD runs, and junior receiver Scout Brazeal has an area-best 406 yards plus four TDs on 16 catches.

Bees junior running back Brayden Bartlett gained 102 yards on 16 carries at Groesbeck.

Junior linebacker Lane Ward leads Academy’s defense with 31 tackles, followed by safety Brazeal with 26 stops, junior linebacker Clayton Lawson with 22 and senior defensive back Blake Bundy with 20. Brazeal and junior defensive back Alex Lawton each made an interception against the Goats.

The duel at Lago Vista is the Bees’ final tuneup before they begin their six-game District 11-3A Division I schedule against reigning champion Lorena (1-2) at 7:30 p.m. next Friday at Academy’s John Glover Stadium.

Rogers eyes three-game

winning streak in home battle

vs. 3-0, No. 10-ranked West

ROGERS – A 38-28 loss at rival Academy wasn’t how Rogers wanted to begin its season, but the Eagles have been nothing but impressive since that opening defeat.

Coach Charlie Roten’s Rogers squad has an opportunity to carry a three-game winning streak into district play when the Eagles challenge West (3-0) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Merk Field. Coach David Woodward's Trojans are ranked No. 10 in the state in Class 3A Division I.

The last two games for Rogers have been a 46-14 home win over San Saba and last Friday’s 48-33 victory at Whitney. The Eagles seek to avenge their 35-29 loss to West a year ago.

Rogers senior quarterback Riley Dolgener has been productive and efficient. He’s passed for 347 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions and has rushed for 151 yards and three TDs.

Eagles senior Jordan Werner made two touchdown receptions against Whitney – 24 yards from senior Christian Riley and 37 yards from Dolgener. Riley has amassed 329 rushing yards and three TDs on only 29 carries. On defense, Rogers has gotten one interception each from junior Jackson Landeros, senior Alex Vargas and Werner.

Rogers, which advanced to the third round of the 3A Division II playoffs in 2019 and 2020, begins its six-game schedule in District 13-3A D-II against Buffalo at home next Friday.

Points have been plentiful this season for West, which beat Lexington 48-7 and Tyler Grace Community 42-0 before the Trojans defeated Orange Grove 47-30 last Saturday.

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