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  • Greg Wille

WEEK 6 FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Belton eyes 2-0 league start; Academy visits McGregor; Rogers meets Clifton


BELTON – A second-half surge propelled Belton to a 41-14 win at Copperas Cove in last Friday’s District 12-6A opener, and the Tigers seek to make it a 2-0 start in league play when they host the winless Bryan Vikings at 7:30 tonight on homecoming at Tiger Field.

Belton (2-2, 1-0) led winless Cove 17-14 at halftime, then outscored the winless Bulldawgs 24-0 in the final two quarters to run away with the district-opening victory. It was Cove’s 11th consecutive defeat dating to last season.

Tigers senior running back Elijah Warner rushed for 137 yards and caught touchdown passes of 21 yards from sophomore Ty Brown and 38 yards from junior Slade LeBlanc as those two players shared the quarterback duties. Seniors Seth Morgan and Garrett Mooney each caught a touchdown pass from Brown, and Taylor Evans returned a third-quarter interception 55 yards for a TD.

Morgan leads Belton receivers with 22 catches for 276 yards and three touchdowns, Brown has passed for six TDs and LeBlanc is the Tigers’ second-leading rusher with 156 yards.

Senior safety Aaron Bain has 32 tackles, junior linebacker Donovan Thompson has 31 and senior safety/linebacker Wriley Madden has 23 stops for a Belton defense that has allowed 279.5 yards per game. Seniors Kage Carmichael and Connor Whitman have made two interceptions apiece.

The Tigers of second-year head coach Brett Sniffin will contend with a Bryan offense that was shut out in its 49-7 home loss to defending 12-6A champion Temple last Friday. Hunter Vivaldi’s 90-yard kickoff return was the only score for the Vikings (0-4, 0-1), who have mustered just 49 points overall for veteran head coach Ross Rogers. Rogers missed his team's first two games this season after he tested positive for COVID-19.

Senior safety Du’Wayne Paulhill made three interceptions for Bryan, but the running-heavy Vikings – who played sophomore Tate Allen at quarterback for the first time this season – produced only 216 total yards against the Wildcats. Junior QB and returning starter Malcom Gooden was lost to a leg injury in the season opener.

Belton will play Harker Heights, which was 4-0 entering Friday’s game at Temple, at 7:30 p.m. next Friday at Killeen’s Leo Buckley Stadium.

After 34-17 loss to Lorena in district opener,

Academy aims to bounce back at McGregor

LITTLE RIVER-ACADEMY – The momentum Academy created while going 4-0 in non-district play for the second consecutive season was halted last Friday as the Bumblebees lost their District 11-3A Division I opener 34-17 to defending champion Lorena at John Glover Stadium.

Coach Chris Lancaster's Academy squad (4-1, 0-1) seeks to avoid an 0-2 start in league play when it travels to battle McGregor (2-3, 0-1) at 7:30 tonight at Bulldog Stadium. The Bulldogs posted two straight wins against Jarrell and Clifton before host Rockdale dominated them 48-14 in a district opener last Friday.

This is a rematch of Academy’s dramatic 45-42 home win over McGregor a year ago, when quarterback Kollin Mraz scrambled and passed to Alex Lawton for a go-ahead 8-yard touchdown with 15 seconds remaining.

The Bees will try to get back on track after Lorena limited them to negative-26 yards rushing on 23 carries. Academy got 303 passing yards from sophomore QB Kasey Mraz, who connected with junior Scout Brazeal 10 times for 207 yards and a 19-yard touchdown. Mraz hit junior Lawton for a 19-yard TD but also threw two interceptions.

Brazeal has made 29 receptions for 665 yards and five touchdowns, while Bees senior Darion Franklin has 20 catches for 261 yards and five TDs.

Academy’s defense will strive to contain rugged McGregor QB Chad Lorenz, a 6-foot-1, 210-pound senior who’s rushed for 736 yards and six touchdowns and passed for 409 yards and five TDs against five interceptions.

Lane Ward leads the Bees with 53 tackles and fellow junior linebacker Clayton Lawson has 39 stops. Senior Blake Bundy also has made 39 tackles, and his seven field goals include a late game-winning kick at Lago Vista two weeks ago.

Blowout victory over Buffalo in district opener

gives Rogers momentum entering test at Clifton

ROGERS – After losing to Buffalo in district play and in a regional semifinal playoff game last season, the Rogers Eagles got back at the Bison in a big way with a district-opening 62-6 win last Friday at Merk Field.

Coach Charlie Roten’s Eagles (3-2, 1-0) seek to extend it to a 2-0 start in District 13-3A Division II competition when they travel to play winless Clifton (0-5, 0-1) at 7:30 tonight. The Cubs lost their league opener 25-21 at Riesel last week.

The major difference between Rogers and Clifton is offensive production. The Eagles average 42.4 points and 398 yards per game, while the Cubs have compiled only 54 points total. They were limited to 13 points in their first three games.

Christian Riley continues to be a force for the Rogers offense. The explosive, versatile senior has needed only 50 carries to rush for 718 yards and eight touchdowns, including 178 yards and TDs of 51 and 18 yards in last week’s rout against Buffalo.

Also for the Eagles, senior Alex Vargas had a 10-yard touchdown run and caught a 28-yard scoring pass from senior quarterback Riley Dolgener. Sophomore RJ Cook returned an interception 25 yards for a Rogers touchdown.

The Eagles’ defense limited Buffalo to 215 total yards. Senior Jordan Werner has a team-leading 40 tackles, junior Brice Lisenbe has made 35 stops and junior Jackson Landeros has 31.

After tonight, Rogers will begin to prepare for its home showdown next Friday against Franklin (5-0), whose Lions are the state’s top-ranked team in Class 3A Division II.

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