Belton football notebook

Belton receiver Seth Morgan runs with the ball after a catch during the Tigers’ win last week against Killeen Shoemaker.

BELTON — Yes, Belton reached one of its season-long goals last week with a convincing win over Killeen Shoemaker. And, yes, the feelings of joy and satisfaction still linger somewhat in the halls of the athletic complex, where a few more relaxed faces can be seen as compared to weeks prior.

But that doesn’t mean the Tigers are done pushing. It simply means there are now new goals toward which to strive.

“We still are elated a little bit, but we’re focused on what we need to do,” Belton head coach Brett Sniffin said. “While the stress is off a little bit, and you can see people are more relaxed and smiling a little more, I think there’s still motivation there to take care of business Friday night.”

A week after clinching their first playoff spot since 2018 and capturing the program’s 600th win thanks to a 24-15 decision over Shoemaker, the Tigers (5-4, 4-2) now want to guarantee themselves a winning season, which they can do with a win in the regular-season finale against Killeen (2-7, 0-6). Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Tiger Field.

“We want to get win number six,” Sniffin said. “We still want to play well at Tiger Field. The seniors want to walk off the field winners of their last game in their home stadium.”

Should Belton accomplish that goal, it would send it into the playoffs on a season-best three-game winning streak.

No matter the outcome, though, the Tigers’ playoff fate already is decided. They will travel to Duncanville (7-1) on Nov. 12 for a 7:30 p.m. bi-district match.

But first, they must face the Kangaroos, a team that started off the year 2-1 but has gone winless since District 12-6A play began, dropping six straight.

Sniffin cautioned not to get caught up in their record, however.

“Killeen is just like any other KISD school,” he said. “They’re big and fast. They start out fast and sometimes slow down a little as the game goes on. We just have to make them run sideways, like we’ve done, and maybe cause some turnovers.”

Belton used similar strategies to great avail in its past two wins against Killeen Ellison and Shoemaker.

A week after setting season highs in tackles for loss (11) and sacks (six) against Ellison, the Tigers were at it again against the run-heavy Grey Wolves, limiting an offense that came in averaging 449.7 yards and 38 points per game to 148 total yards and 15 points while stopping the Wolves for a loss or no gain on 19 plays.

In the process, they reset their team-high for TFLs with 14 on just 49 total defensive snaps, meaning they stopped Shoemaker for a loss on 32 percent of its plays.

“The last two weeks, the tackles for loss have been great, and that’s what this defense tries to create,” Sniffin said. “We have some quick guys up front. We’re not the biggest cats up there, but we’re athletic, we can run and, man, they performed well once again.”

Junior linebacker Donovan Thompson led the way with four TFLs against the Wolves, among his team-high nine stops, while seniors Gabe Kalama, Aaron Bain and Wriley Madden each tacked on two apiece.

Belton’s offense, meanwhile, continued to hum along nicely, using a balanced attack to eat up plays and time of possession. The Tigers ran 72 plays to Shoemaker’s 49 and got 138 yards rushing from senior Elijah Warner and 214 yards passing from sophomore Ty Brown.

“That was probably the first time this year that we ran more offensive plays than we were out there for defense, and that’s a great feeling,” Sniffin said. “When you do that, you’re usually going to be pretty well-off.”

Sniffin said one reason for the recent success is the development of some of the young players on offense.

“The young kids are getting better and they’re getting more confidence,” he said. “Once you have more confidence, you’re able to execute better. Our young offensive line is starting to perform and take care of their assignments and be able to move big kids off the ball. We just have to continue to do that.”

Killeen will bring an offense that has averaged only 12.3 points in its last three games. But the Roos still have athleticism and feature weapons in quarterback Roderick Norman, running back Emory Arthur and receiver Jacobia Thomas.

Sniffin said his team will keep its game plan the same as weeks past — try to limit big plays, play good special teams and limit turnovers — and hope that some of the confidence from the last two weeks carries over into Friday.

“When you have that confidence, you get a little swag to you,” he said. “I think our kids are believing in themselves and believing in what they can accomplish and that’s great for finishing the season strong and then taking us into a very difficult playoff opponent.”