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  • Greg Wille

WEEK 7 FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Belton heads to Heights; Academy, Yoe clash; Rogers, No. 1 Franklin collide


BELTON – One week before their rivalry showdown with Temple, the Belton Tigers seek to make it a 3-0 start in District 12-6A when they battle Harker Heights at 7:30 tonight at Leo Buckley Stadium in Killeen.

Belton (3-2, 2-0) remained unbeaten in 12-6A last Friday when they edged winless Bryan 21-14 in overtime at Tiger Field. Javier Luna gave the Tigers the lead with an 18-yard touchdown run in overtime, then Tanner Conroy sealed the homecoming victory by recovering a fumble – the Vikings’ sixth turnover of the night.

Coach Brett Sniffin’s Belton squad travels to take on Harker Heights (4-1, 1-1), which jumped out to a 21-0 second-quarter lead at defending 12-6A champion Temple last Friday before the Wildcats charged back to earn a 44-34 victory.

The Tigers aim to avenge their 42-20 home loss to the Knights in last December’s district finale in which Heights grabbed 12-6A’s fourth and final berth in the Class 6A state playoffs.

Then-sophomore Re’Shaun Sanford II rushed for a school-record 327 yards that night for the Knights, who also got 143 rushing yards and three touchdowns from then-junior Terrance Carter. The speedy Sanford has run for 926 yards and nine TDs this season, including 205 and two scores against Temple. Carter made two touchdown receptions against Temple from sophomore quarterback Dylan Plake.

Coach Jerry Edwards' Heights squad will seek to improve its ball security after its four turnovers proved costly in the setback at Temple, whose Wildcats did not commit a turnover.

Junior Slade LeBlanc and sophomore Ty Brown scored a touchdown run against Bryan as Belton continues to use both quarterbacks. Tigers senior cornerback Kage Carmichael has made an interception in three consecutive games.

Lake Belton shoots to remain unbeaten

in home test vs. first-year school Randle

Lake Belton’s hopes of compiling a 10-0 record in its second year of football and first varsity season went away when Llano canceled its scheduled game last week against the Broncos.

A 9-0 mark now is the best that Lake Belton potentially can accomplish, and the Broncos (5-0) continue their push tonight at 7 with a home game against first-year Richmond Lamar Randle at Belton High School’s Tiger Field.

Coach Brian Cope’s Lake Belton team hasn’t played since it came up with a late defensive stand deep in its own territory to defeat Katy Jordan two weeks ago at Tiger Field.

Randle, which is located in the Houston suburb of Richmond and is part of the Lamar Consolidated ISD, is in its first year of existence. The Lions have only sophomores and freshmen on their roster, the same situation Lake Belton – which won’t join a University Interscholastic League district until next season – was in last season when it compiled a 9-1 record during its school’s inaugural year.

Randle has posted a 4-1 record in its debut season, primarily against sub-varsity competition.

Junior quarterback Connor Crews has been steady for Lake Belton, passing for 1,026 yards and eight touchdowns and rushing for 266 yards and three TDs. Junior D’Arius Wilkerson paces the Broncos with 350 rushing yards and six TDs, while explosive sophomore Micah Hudson has 526 receiving yards and four touchdowns.

The Lake Belton defense’s leaders include junior safety Javeon Wilcox (57 tackles) and junior linebacker Connor Brennan (40 tackles).

Salado aims to maintain strong form

in district opener at Gatesville

SALADO – Playing five non-district games and then getting an open week, Salado has had to wait a long time to get into district competition. That wait finally ends tonight when the defending champion Eagles (3-2) begin the District 9-4A Division II schedule against the Gatesville Hornets (2-3) at 7:30 at McKamie Stadium.

It’s a rematch of Salado’s 63-3 home victory over Gatesville last year.

Following consecutive road losses against stalwart programs Grandview and Stephenville, Salado recorded back-to-back blowout victories at home over Mexia (57-0) and Taylor (59-6) before coach Alan Haire’s Eagles had their open date.

Gatesville also had its open date last week following a 41-33 home loss to Lampasas. Coach Luke Howard’s Hornets beat Hillsboro 40-6 the week before that.

Salado’s customary Slot-T offense likely will rely on the rushing production of senior Aidan Wilson (600 yards, 10 touchdowns) and junior Caden Strickland (560 yards, six TDs). Eagles senior quarterback Hutton Haire has thrown six touchdown passes with zero interceptions and rushed for four TDs.

Nolan Miller has 46 tackles, Josh Huckabee 43 and Nic Bates 40 for Salado’s defense, which allows 241.8 yards per game.

Academy set for homecoming duel

against resurgent Cameron Yoe

LITTLE RIVER-ACADEMY – The Academy Bumblebees seek to cool off the surging Cameron Yoe Yoemen and gain a share of second place in District 11-3A Division I when the teams collide tonight at 7:30 for Academy’s homecoming game at John Glover Stadium.

Coach Chris Lancaster’s Academy squad (5-1, 1-1) bounced back from its district-opening 34-17 home loss to defending champion Lorena by securing a 21-13 road win over McGregor last Friday. The Bees aim to avenge their 37-19 loss at Yoe last season, when they went on to reach the playoffs and the Yoemen did not.

Yoe (2-4, 2-0) went 0-4 during a challenging non-district schedule to begin Rick Rhoades’ second stint as head coach, but the Yoemen have gotten off to an extremely hot start in league play. They clobbered Caldwell 70-0 two weeks ago, then last Friday they dominated rival Rockdale 60-23 at Yoe Field in Milam County’s annual Battle of the Bell.

Phaibian Bynaum rushed for 192 yards and two touchdowns and also caught one of three TD passes thrown by senior quarterback Ryan Muniz, who added a TD rush. The Yoe defense allowed 388 yards but benefited from three Rockdale turnovers. Linebackers Fabian Salomon and Colton Barbo are standout defenders for the Yoemen with 70 and 69 tackles, respectively.

Academy features a dynamic pair of wide receivers in junior Scout Brazeal (34 catches, 724 yards, six touchdowns) and senior Darion Franklin (22, 279, five). Bees sophomore quarterback Kasey Mraz has passed for 1,277 yards and 13 TDs against five interceptions.

The leading tacklers for Academy’s defense are junior linebacker Lane Ward (64 stops), senior safety Blake Bundy (50), junior linebacker Clayton Lawson (48) and safety Brazeal (42). Bundy, linebacker Franklin and junior Alex Lawton have made two interceptions each.

Rogers, No. 1-ranked Franklin

battle with district lead at stake

ROGERS – To take possession of the outright lead in District 13-3A Division II, all the Rogers Eagles must do is beat the No. 1-ranked Franklin Lions at 7:30 tonight at Merk Field.

That obviously doesn’t figure to be a simple task for coach Charlie Roten’s Rogers squad (4-2, 2-0), as machinelike Franklin (6-0, 2-0) has outscored its opponents 312-91 this season after finishing as last year’s Class 3A Division II state runner-up to Canadian, which edged the Lions 35-34. Franklin’s non-district victories included one against 3A Division I Lorena, a reigning district champion.

Fueled by brothers Bobby and Bryson Washington, Franklin’s powerful rushing offense churned out 536 rushing yards in a 75-13 thrashing of Riesel last week, and the Lions also found time to throw three touchdown passes.

Meanwhile, Rogers built on its district-opening 62-6 romp over Buffalo by earning a 41-28 victory at Clifton last Friday.

Explosive, versatile senior Christian Riley missed the Clifton game after rushing for 718 yards and eight touchdowns in the first five games, but senior quarterback Riley Dolgener fueled the Eagles’ offense by rushing for three touchdowns and throwing two TD passes to junior Zach Davis. Dolgener has thrown for nine touchdowns – with zero interceptions – and rushed for six TDs this season.

The Rogers defense, allowing 326.5 yards per game, has gotten 45 tackles from senior Jordan Werner, 38 from junior Brice Lisenbe and 35 from junior Jackson Landeros.

Franklin recorded a 52-35 home win against Rogers last year.

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