BALLINGER — After four straight losses, the Bulldogs were able to hold their heads up high Friday after defeating Ballinger 22-13.
A team which is as young as a varsity team gets, Coahoma (1-4) used Head Coach Trey Gardner's Wing-T formation, ran the ball and played bend-but-don't-break defense to come out on top on the road — a momentous psychological boost, Gardner believes.
“I knew getting a win going into district would be huge for our psyche,” he explained. “We're still a team that's searching to see what fits. But I saw improvement in a lot of areas. Our pass coverage got better, we got better pressure on the quarterback than we've had all year, the kids played hard. The biggest thing was that we controlled the tempo. We controlled the pace of the game. We never felt like we were scrambling.”
Gardner decided to switch things up the past few outings when the ground game was being read by defenses and shut down. Unfortunately, Coahoma wasn't able to generate enough offense via the pass, but that changed Friday as the Bulldogs finally established their dominance on the ground.
“We were able to move the ball early,” Gardner said. “We got 100 yards of rushing the first quarter. We looked like a Wing-T football team. We were scoring on nine plays, 15 plays — on our second drive we only got three points, but we snapped the ball 15 times. That's what we want to do.”
With sophomore back Paul Cortez sidelined with an injury, Gardner relied on junior Brandon Coker and freshman Kody Barber to carry the backfield. After Ballinger made some adjustments in the second half, Gardner switched it up a bit and utilized the passing game.
“They made adjustments at the half,” Gardner said. “They took the trap away from us, which was a good call on their part. Our defense made some adjustments, too. We didn't play great defense in the first half. In the second half, they started defending what they weren't defending before, they found the answer.”
Though the win was certainly welcome, Gardner knows it won't get any easier as they kick off District 3-2A play against Stanton after the bye week.
“We're getting a little better every week,” he added. “We knew we had a great opportunity to win, but life doesn't get any easier when we get into district. You always want to play to win your district. That's always the goal. It probably won't happen with this young crew, but if we can beat a couple of teams and get into a playoff game and get them a feel for the atmosphere, it would be great for us. We're almost out of guys who have had playoff experience. To get into a playoff game, that would be huge.”
Coahoma will travel to Stanton for the 3-2A DII opener Oct. 11.
Passing: Braxton Iden, 2-3, 36, interception return for TD.
Rushing: Barber, 14-62 (1 TD); Coker, 10-52; Kyler Franks, 18-132 (1 TD); Iden, 7-46; Christian Van Wey, 2-11; Devin Ruiz, 1-5.
Receiving: Franks, 1-24; Gilbert Puga, 1-12.
Field Goals: Joe Melendez, 21-yards.