After a week off to prepare for the next opponent and the stretch of the District 9-4A schedule, coach Clint Fuller’s Kilgore High School Bulldogs are ready to roll.
“We’re doing really well,” Fuller said. “Going back to the last two games, I think we played our best football in those eight quarters. Had a lot of momentum going into the open week. I guess our goals are twofold: get some time away, some time off, but also to get better. We had a really good week of practice.
“Started looking at Mabank last week. It took me watching them about two series to figure out they’re a really good football team. They’re a program on the rise. They play physical football, well-coached. We’re going to have our hands full.
“I think we learned a lesson early in the year when we played Pine Tree. We didn’t play our best football or have a good week of preparation that week. I think we learned a valuable lesson from that.”
Fuller and the Ragin’ Red are 4-1 overall, 1-0 in district play after a 35-6 dismantling of Palestine two Fridays ago, and now set their sights on Mabank. Kilgore visits Mabank this Friday, a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
The ‘Dogs will need to be careful. This year’s Mabank appears to be a far cry from last year’s, a team Kilgore manhandled here at R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium, 56-0. The Panthers are a somewhat-surprising 5-1 overall, and even beat Palestine themselves, 33-30, a week ago in Palestine.
Mabank’s other four wins: Bullard (30-17), Kemp (48-6), Wills Point (49-0), and Canton (35-21). Mabank’s lone loss: a 30-13 defeat to Lindale two weeks ago. So the Panthers are 1-1 in district play.
The Panthers’ starting quarterback has a familiar name – Beau Kilgore. In six games, Kilgore, a senior, is 37-of-57 for 592 yards, and eight touchdowns to just one interception. In addition, he’s got 36 carries this year for 217 yards and four scores, so he’s a threat in the running game as well: he also has a 62-yard run.
Kilgore (the QB) has a few favorite targets: Aiden Wilkinson, who has 10 catches for 190 yards and a score, and Jaydon Reder, who has 138 yards and two touchdowns on nine catches. Jayden Rogers has just three catches for 45 yards, but two of them for touchdowns.
As a team, the Panthers have rushed for 1,742 yards and 22 touchdowns already this season, and average 6.9 yards a carry, 290 yards a game. And it is by committee of sorts, but the committee chairman is Cody Chapman, a junior who’s got 502 yards and six touchdowns on 77 carries. Caleb Goforth has 258 yards and five scores, and Wilkinson has rushed for 331 yards and three scores, to go with the numbers Kilgore has.
Goforth seems to be the defensive leader; he far and away leads the Panthers in both tackles (74) and tackles for loss (11). He has two sacks, but has big help in the form of Kaizen Burrows, who has six of them, and Samuel Bowker, who has five more. J.J. Flores has three of the Panthers’ five interceptions.
Now to Kilgore – the Bulldogs.
No statistics earned last week, so up-to-date season stats are the same as right after Palestine.
Kilgore’s offense, led by a so-far fantastic performance by the offensive line, has produced 1,207 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns so far this season, and to 649 passing yards. Quarterback Da’Marion Van Zandt has completed 46-of-80 passes for those 649 yards, along with four touchdowns and no interceptions.
Jermaine Roney leads the Bulldogs with 14 catches for 168 yards and two touchdowns. Dadrian Franklin has nine for 85 yards and a score. Corey Rider, Matthew Tyeskie, and Davin Rider each have five catches – Corey Rider for 165 yards, Davin Rider for 90 yards, and Tyeskie for 31 yards.
P.J. Wiley and Isaiah Ross each have three catches – Ross for 54 yards and Wiley for 16 – and Jacob Caruthers has one catch for 3 yards, and a two point conversion. Zaylon Stoker has one for 31 yards.
The running game is led by Davin Rider, who has 736 yards and 13 touchdowns on 57 carries and is averaging 12.9 yards a carry. Isaiah Ross has rushed 38 times for 283 yards and two touchdowns. Matthew Hardy has 25 carries for 148 yards and a score. Devin Walker, a move-in from Gladewater, scored against his former school and has 21 yards on four carries. Roney has 7 yards on four carries, Franklin, 6 yards on two carries and Van Zandt, 6 yards rushing, but three touchdowns.
On special teams, kicker Chris Baldazo is 2-of-4 in field goals this year, with the two both being over 40 yards, and he’s 22-of-25 in extra point attempts.
Punter Jose Jaime has done a nice job, as well. He’s punted just 11 times in five games, but is averaging 33 yards a punt.
As mentioned last week, on defense, Kilgore collectively has nine sacks, 19 quarterback hurries, five fumble recoveries, four forced fumbles, 12 pass break-ups, three blocked kicks, three interceptions, and has been penalized just eight times. The Bulldogs have allowed 1,708 total yards (about 340 a game) and forced 12 three-and-outs.
Chris Ervin leads the team in tackles (33). Kendall Dunn is second (30). Jackson Harris, Peyton Christian, and Alex Chavez each have two tackles for loss.
Hear the Bulldogs live each week on KDOK, 105.3-FM, and online on kdokradio.com, with Ragin’ Red Broadcasting on the call – season number 40 for them to do so.
Read more on that later this season.
There are often live-streaming options to watch, if you can’t make the road games.