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Under a new head coach, Valley Mills opens with statement victory, state-ranked Mart & Crawford post dominating wins, Meridian drops opener in the Heart of Texas

As the home of a host of Class 2A state ranked teams, the Friday night lights shined brightly on the Heart of Texas on the opening weekend of the 2021 Texas high school football season.

In the headline games, the Class 2A, Division I’s fourth-ranked Crawford Pirates imposed their will on the Goldthwaite Eagles, 35-6, last Friday night, and the 19th-ranked Bosqueville Bulldogs slipped past Class 3A, DII’s Clifton Cubs, 14-6, while the Class 2A, DII’s top-ranked Mart Panthers blanked the Class 3A, DI Teague Lions, 48-0.

But on the undercard, a number of teams made surprising first impressions as the Hamilton Bulldogs rolled past the Moody Bearcats, 46-7, in Class 2A, DI action, while the Tolar Rattlers blanked Post, 48-0, and the Valley Mills Eagles shut out Milano, 41-0.

In other Class 2A, DII action, the Hico Tigers posted a dominating 41-6 victory over the Waco Texas Wind, while the Hubbard Jaguars eased past Waco Reicher, 36-7.


MILANO – Making their debut under the guidance of a new head coach, the Valley Mills Eagles soared to a dominating 41-0 victory over Milano on the road last Friday night.

Sophomore quarterback Elandis Taylor tossed four touchdown passes, three to senior wide receiver Cooper Ewing, while senior running back Trevor Castanon grinded out 174 yards and two scores, while the Eagles defense came up with five turnovers.

“The defense played great swarming to the ball and causing turnovers,” Valley Mills head coach Bob Featherston said. “The offense did a good job of protecting the ball, giving the quarterback time to throw, and the receivers caught the ball well. 

“It was a great overall effort for game one. Now, we need to just keep improving.”

Running the newly-installed spread attack, Taylor completed 15 of 22 passes for 240 yards, connecting with Ewing six times for 115 yards while Kaleb Kuligowski pulled down six tosses for 77.

Defensively, sophomore David Haynes III led Valley Mills with 13 tackles, two fumble recoveries and a sack, followed by senior Eli McNair with nine takedowns and sophomore Will McDonald with eight tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble, while senior Utah Dutschmann hauled in an interception.


MERIDIAN – Scoring quickly and often in the first quarter, the Kerens Bobcats put Meridian in a hole early before burying the Yellowjackets, 32-7, last Friday night in the Texas high school football season opener at Jacket Stadium.

After scoring on their opening possession, the Bobcats (1-0) capitalized on three consecutive Meridian turnovers to take a commanding 26-0 lead in the first quarter.

“We were geared up and ready to go as a team,” Meridian football head coach Wade Morton said. “We made some critical errors early and weren’t able to recover.”

But once the Jackets (0-1) settled down, running back Brady Taylor broke loose for a 60-yard touchdown run and placekicker Matthew converted the extra point to close out the first quarter. Taylor finished with 98 yards on 14 carries, followed by John Bernal with 61 yards on seven attempts and quarterback Braden Wehmeyer adding 32 yards on seven scrambles as Meridian piled up 206 yard on the ground.

“We saw a lot of promise on the offensive side of the ball as we were able to move the ball,” Morton said. “Kerens has a good team, and we knew it was going to be a good test.”

The Jackets certainly had opportunities to get back into the game in the second and third quarters as the Meridian offensive unit moved inside the Kerens five-yard line three times. But all three times, the Jackets walked off the field without putting points on the scoreboard.

“Ultimately, we don’t define ourselves based on one game, but the manner in which we play,” Morton said. “We are proud of our guys for how they conduct themselves both on and off the field. The sense of urgency, effort and relentless attitude is there.”

With the Jacket offense turning the ball over five times, the Meridian defense was left defending a short field often. But when Kerens mounted a sustained scoring drive in the fourth quarter, it proved to be the last nail in the coffin for the Jackets.

“Defensively, we didn’t get off the field when we had the opportunity to do so,” Morton said. “Overall, I was pleased though with our guys on defense.”

Cameron Sheffer led Meridian with six tackles, followed by Dustan Bowers and Junior Rodriguez with five each, along with Brady Taylor and Gauge Chandler with four apiece.

This week, the Jackets turn their attention to preparing for a road trip to Frost Friday to take on the Polar Bears at 7:30 p.m. In 2020, Meridian shut out the Polar Bears, 27-0, and owns an impressive all-time 12-5 win-loss record against Frost as the two schools will battle for the 12th straight season.

Picked to finish last in District 10-2A, DII behind top-ranked Mart and 13th-ranked Bremond, Frost opened the 2021 season with a 28-12 loss to Bartlett on the road.

“You’re always a work in progress,” Morton said. “And in order to be ready for district play, we have to get better every day. We’ll be ready for the #NextLevel, which begins Monday as we get ready for the Frost Polar Bears.”


TEAGUE – Led by senior quarterback Kei’shawn Clater, the Class 2A, Division II’s top-ranked Mart Panthers rolled past Class 3A, DI Teague, 48-0, on the road last Friday night.

With five different Panthers getting into the end zone, Mart took control in the second quarter with 20 unanswered points as Clater ran for a touchdown and senior Klyderion Campbell quickly added another.

The Panthers then capitalized on sophomore Dominic Medlock’s interception as senior Robert Hickman broke off a 36-yard touchdown run.

Tossing a pair of second-half touchdown passes, Clater completed 14 of 20 passes for 173 yards and ran for 42 more. Campbell led the ground attack with 92 yards on only five carries, followed by Hickman with 67 on seven attempts as senior Trey Powell and sophomore Jonah Ross both scored. Medlock led receivers with four catches for 67 yards, while Campbell and Ross hauled in touchdown passes.


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