Belton football

Belton senior defensive tackle Logan Drake, who also is an avid fisherman, will try to help the Tigers upset Hewitt Midway in the regular-season finale tonight.

BELTON — Logan Drake is an avid angler who’s pocketed his share of awards while fishing some of Texas’ lakes as part of the high school tournament circuit.

The Belton senior said he doesn’t see many parallels between his weekends spent on the water and his weekdays on the gridiron. But, perhaps, the patience and persistence he exhibits while trying to hook the big one also helped Drake go from scout team extraordinaire to starter on the Tigers’ defensive line in his one and only varsity season.

A whole bunch of hard work went a long way, too.

“I was pretty much all the way at the bottom,” Drake said of his position on Belton’s depth chart heading into his 12th-grade year after two seasons with the JV. “It was definitely motivation. I guess I just hustled and did everything right. I tried to show up to every practice and work my way up.”

Drake did just that somewhat unexpectedly. The 5-foot-11, 255-pound defensive tackle isn’t exactly the most animated during conversation — even when discussing the fishing state championship he and his team won last year — and says he’s always been shy. His subdued personality, however, didn’t go so far as to cast doubt over his growing desire to make an impact.

Belton head coach Sam Skidmore explained just how the under-the-radar Drake managed to drift to the forefront and catch the coaching staff’s attention.

“It started with him on the scout team and he’d compete with our varsity offensive line. He’d fight tooth and nail every day, and I was like, ‘That dude’s got some heart,’” Skidmore said. “The effort he plays with is really, really good. He’s always going to do what he’s coached to do, be here on time and handle his business. He’s reliable.”

All of the above earned Drake a Week 1 start against Austin Westlake. He was credited with nine tackles in his first varsity contest, prior to which he said he was anxious yet still got a good night’s sleep.

“I was nervous but confident,” he said.

Heading into Belton’s regular-season finale at 7:30 tonight against Hewitt Midway (6-3, 6-1 District 12-6A) at Tiger Field that the Tigers (3-6, 3-4) must win — plus get help from Killeen Shoemaker — to qualify for the playoffs, Drake has 29 tackles that put him third among his position counterparts.

“He just plays hard and does what he’s supposed to do,” Skidmore said. “He just comes to work.”

Drake’s dad, Kevin, is a former Belton football player and also took Drake when he was 8-years-old on his first fishing adventure — a trip to Toledo Bend for some catfish. And what Drake, who plans to pursue a career as a boat technician, enjoys most about fishing is being outdoors and the thrill of landing a keeper, which creates similar energy to making a tackle.

The largest fish Drake’s reeled in during competition was a 10-pound bass that spanned across his chest. The most memorable football play Drake said he’s made occurred against Waco last week when he broke through the offensive line to block a field goal. It was returned 76 yards by Jonah Jimenez for a touchdown.

“Every week I was getting though the line pretty good and I knew I was eventually going to block one,” Drake said. “It was exciting.”

His only regret was that the sequence didn’t go toward a victory in what’s been a difficult season for Belton, which can make amends in a major way by pulling off the upset tonight. The Tigers last defeated the Panthers in 2011.

“I really just let (the frustrations) go and just fight through to the next game,” Drake said.

Staying tough amid challenges is originally why Drake had his number called in the first place and serves as a lasting lesson for dealing with any obstacle or accomplishing a goal.

“I worked up to being a starter,” Drake said. “Just kept on fighting, I guess.”