BELTON — Somewhere along the 100-mile route home from Brenham two weeks ago, Belton encountered a figurative fork in the road as it absorbed the disappointment of a 42-7 defeat. Collectively, the Tigers decided to alter their approach.
Practices became more intense, forcing each player to sharpen his focus along with his skills, and the outcome was last week’s 41-28 victory against visiting Huntsville.
Now, Belton prepares to embark on another road trip, traveling to face San Angelo Central, where it will look to maintain the recently generated momentum while simultaneously proving a point to itself.
“This feels like a chance to make up for everything that went wrong at Brenham,” Tigers junior linebacker Wyatt Butler said. “It feels like we need to win this one. We’ve had three games, and our only loss was the away one. We want to prove that we can win even if we have to drive somewhere to do it.”
After suffering a 41-38 overtime loss at Abilene Cooper, the Bobcats (1-2) return home where they earned their lone victory, narrowly defeating El Paso Montwood 52-49 in Week 2.
Regardless of location, however, senior dual-threat quarterback Tyler Hill has led Central’s offense, accounting for 537 yards passing, 296 yards rushing and seven total touchdowns. Meanwhile, a veteran defense anchored by linebackers Darius Floyd (18 tackles, blocked field goal) and Evan Arnold (15 tackles) attempts to complement the efforts.
While the Tigers refuse to overlook anyone since falling to the Cubs, they also know where their focus must be.
“The Brenham game was an awakening for us,” Belton center Zachary Erickson said. “We got too comfortable. That’s when we realized we can’t let ourselves feel that way. We have to want it every day, and that desire has to grow more and more and more.”
Belton will be looking to build on a strong performance last week against the Hornets.
The Tigers offense eclipsed 100 yards rushing for the first time this season behind a team-high 90 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 15 carries from sophomore Shaun Snapp, while five Belton players accounted for six tackles for a loss, including two from Butler.
Despite the success, emerging from San Angelo with their first road win will not be easy, but Butler believes the Tigers are prepared for the challenge.
“It is really just an effort thing,” he said. “If everybody just stays together and does their jobs and plays hard and fast, then we will be fine. That’s all it is about. We all just need to keep doing what we are supposed to.”
Ready and Abel
Tigers receiver Isaac Abel continued an impressive start to his varsity career last week against Huntsville despite finishing the game with just one catch.
The junior’s lone reception was for a 64-yard touchdown, helping to inflate his average yards per catch to a whopping 44.3. Abel has four catches for 177 yards and two touchdowns, tying him for most on the team.
Garrett Oliveira leads Belton with 10 receptions for 201 yards and two touchdowns.
Abel’s three other catches came against Pflugerville Hendrickson in the season opener when he hauled in receptions of 2, 16 and 95 yards.
Last season, only two players — Seth Morgan (50-694) and Bryan Henry (36-507) — produced more receiving yardage than Abel currently has.
Return of the TD return
When junior Alton McCallum returned the second half’s opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown against the Hornets, he ended an almost two-year long drought.
The last time the Tigers returned a kickoff for a score was Oct. 2, 2020 in a 35-33 loss at Round Rock. Trailing 28-0 in the second quarter versus the Dragons, Belton senior Maurice Reed sparked a rally with an 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, but the Tigers did not complete the comeback.
Prior to Reed, Denver Holman was the last Belton player to return a kickoff for a touchdown, accomplishing the feat twice in 2018, when he also returned a pair of punts for scores.