This isn’t just another road trip. As is anything with Lake Belton football under the guidance of head coach Brian Cope and his staff, what awaits the Broncos as the sun rises Saturday morning is another opportunity.
Lake Belton is doing what plenty of collegiate players are doing Saturday, waking up early, hopping on a bus and kicking off a game at noon, when the Broncos challenge familiar foe Katy Jordan at Jack Rhodes Memorial Stadium in Katy.
“We’ve talked to them a lot about this is when colleges play and when you get to playoffs, there are opportunities to play on Saturdays,” said Cope, whose second-year program is nearing the end of its get-acquainted phase and will soon be playoff eligible in 2022. “The kids have responded with really good practices this week.”
But, what about the pre-dawn alarm setting? That won’t be much of a bother for the Broncos, who are used to early wake-up calls for 6 a.m. practices.
“We start school at 8:50 so there are tons of benefits (to morning practices). It’s one way to make sure they get to school and it frees up the afternoon for those who have jobs. It’s a win-win for everybody.”
Winning mostly is what the Broncos have been up to since Day 1 last season. Lake Belton currently rides a 14-game winning streak and is 15-1 as a program so far, and they are not far off from finding out which district will serve as their first home. Enrollment snapshot numbers are due Oct. 29 — when speculation ramps up about in which classification Lake Belton will land. Realignment is set for February 2022.
“We still got three games left before I worry about that,” said Cope, adding that Lake Belton, at this juncture, won’t seek to replace its Week 6 game that was canceled by Llano, turning its season into a nine-game campaign.
Up next are the Warriors, who rallied from a two-TD second-half deficit Sept. 24 in an eventual 35-28 win for Lake Belton. Jordan (1-5) has lost four straight, though the last three were by an average of five points.
“Coach (Mike) Rabe always has his guys ready,” said Cope, who will lead the Broncos onto a field on which he played as a freshman growing up in Houston.
The Broncos (6-0) posted a season-high 47 points last week in its win over Richmond Randle, which caught Lake Belton at 14 early in the first half before the Broncos reeled off 34 in a row.
It was the third time Lake Belton posted at least 35 points in a game. This one included Micah Hudson’s long kickoff return TD, rushing touchdowns from Javeon Wilcox, Connor Crews and Ty Legg, and receiving scores by Jaydon Leza and Hudson. Defensively, Legg and Bruce Onchweri had interceptions.
Academy’s fortitude pays dividends
The Academy Bumblebees have a shown a knack for producing in a game’s biggest moments. With Blake Bundy’s late field goal to beat Lago Vista, two fourth-quarter touchdowns to get past McGregor, and 15 unanswered points in the fourth last week to knock off Cameron Yoe 32-28, the Bees have some experience from which to draw should they need another rally in the future.
“Our guys never quit and never give up. They always believe they can do it,” second-year Academy coach Chris Lancaster said. “We’re blessed to have a great group of kids and great coaches around them. We’ve been very fortunate in a couple of these games to win by not giving up. We don’t ever look at the scoreboard. We just keep plugging along.”
That certainly was the case last week, when the Bees trailed 28-17 after three quarters. Academy (6-1, 2-1 District 11-3A-I) started its comeback with Kasey Mraz’s 27-yard TD pass to Zane Clark and ensuing 2-point conversion toss to Darion Franklin.
The Bees defense kept the surge alive with a fourth-down stop deep in Yoe territory, and Mraz’s 25-yard TD pass to Scout Brazeal sent Academy to a confidence-boosting win over a Yoemen program that owns four state championship trophies.
“We’ve talked about how you have to win the games you’re supposed to win and then get a couple of signature wins,” Lancaster said. “That was a signature win that our community needed to validate what we’ve been doing. We needed that to change the culture a little bit and help us take that next step.”
Academy continues its district slate tonight on the road against Caldwell (2-4, 0-2), which is on a four-game losing streak.
Following up an emotional victory with a game against a Hornets team at the bottom of the league standings gives cause for concern about a letdown by the Bees. Lancaster hopes that won’t be the case.
“We enjoyed that win on Friday night. The next day, though, you have to make sure you don’t enjoy so much success that you forget about the process that got you there,” he said. “When you’re climbing a mountain, you can’t look at the peak. You have to look at the path. We have to take care of business this week and keep stacking wins on wins. With the leadership we have, hopefully our guys will be able to handle that.”
Troy’s rushing attack shines in win
Troy head coach Stephen Hermesmeyer felt like his team was ready for a breakthrough last week.
After starting the year with five losses, including one in double overtime to Robinson and another on the last play of the game to Mexia, the Trojans were ripe for things to finally break their way.
And they did in a big manner in a 48-28 District 11-3A-I triumph over McGregor, during which Troy (1-5, 1-1) rushed for 476 yards and six scores, including 244 yards from Steve Jackson — who also had nine tackles and an interception on defense — and another 107 yards rushing on six carries from Cooper Valle.
The first-year Troy coach said his team has steadily improved each week, and that he liked how they had been practicing prior to the match with the Bulldogs.
“We told the kids during walk-throughs there’s no reason why we shouldn’t play well, because we had a great week of work last week,” Hermesmeyer said. “We tell the kids all the time, ‘How you prepare is how you will play,’ and we had our best week.”
With a tough schedule and a new coach bringing the team’s third offensive system in as many years, things haven’t been the smoothest in Troy this fall.
But Hermesmeyer is happy with the way his players are progressing in their grasp of the Wing-T offensive system and in their day-to-day approach.
“It’s taken us some time to figure out of the pieces and which things go where, but I feel like we’re getting better every week and that’s all you can ask as a coach,” he said.
The Trojans travel to Cameron Yoe tonight in yet another tough test.
“They are extremely explosive and can score on any play,” Hermesmeyer said. “We will have to be able to control ourselves and execute at a high level. If we can move the ball and contain the line of scrimmage like we did last week, then we give ourselves a chance.”