It hasn’t been too long since the Kilgore Bulldogs started a football season 3-0; it was only two years ago, back in 2017.
But this year certainly has a different feel to it so far.
Kilgore, armed with the most balanced offense it’s had since the days of Benny Colbert, Kevrin Justice, Jarod Wood and Aaron Foy, is not just 3-0, but an impressive 3-0, with three wins over programs that are all bigger than Kilgore, and at least two of them predicted by many to have a good season.
It’s Kilgore that’s having a good season, and the Bulldogs plan to continue to do so Friday night, when Texas High visits R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium for homecoming.
Homecoming festivities will be conducted prior to the game, and then the kickoff will be at 7:30, as usual. The Ragin’ Red Broadcasting team, in its 38th season of calling Kilgore football, will be live on KDOK 105.3-FM, and online at kdokradio.com.
Kilgore utilized a late comeback with a touchdown pass and defensive interception to beat Nacogdoches in the first week, pummeled Hallsville on the road two weeks ago, and then edged out Pine Tree in a triple-overtime nail-biter last week to get to 3-0.
The Bulldogs play host to some enigmatic Texas High Tigers this week. Texas High, located, of course, in Texarkana. The Tigers were a very un-Texas High-like 3-7 last year, missing the playoffs with a 1-5 District 7-5A, Division I record. There have been some coaching changes there; longtime coach Barry Norton left a couple of years ago, and Gerry Stanford is now the head coach. The Tigers are bringing seven starters back on defense, just four on offense from 2018.
So far, so good. After losing the season opener to Pflugerville Hendrickson, 21-7, the Tigers have bounced back with a couple of wins: 28-7 over cross-city/cross-state line rival Arkansas, and then a big 62-13 win over Liberty-Eylau last week.
Kilgore surprised Texas High by beating the Tigers, 42-14, in a game that was about as close as the score sounds a year ago in Texarkana. These two programs haven’t played as often as Kilgore has played, say, the Longview-area programs. But they have some long history. It was Texas High that the 1953 Bulldogs defeated to win their first-ever district championship in football.
Texas High is one of the few programs that Kilgore has a losing record against. The Bulldogs are 12-19-2 all-time against Texas High, Kilgore’s third straight 5A opponent.
The Bulldogs will close out the non-district schedule with a trip to Pittsburg next week. Kilgore has an open date on Oct. 4, and then starts the District 10-4A, DI schedule at home against Chapel Hill on Oct. 11.
Kilgore’s offensive numbers jumped up quite a bit, of course, with that 64-62 win over Pine Tree last week, the Bulldogs’ first home game of the season. But first-year starting quarterback Dalton McElyea has been nothing short of a blessing for the Bulldogs. McElyea threw for 315 yards and five touchdowns to four different receivers last week in the win, and on the season, he’s 41-of-61 for 494 yards, seven touchdowns and just one interception – not bad for three varsity starts.
Donovan Adkins caught a touchdown and a two-point conversion in last week’s win, and on the season, he’s got 122 yards and three scores on seven catches. Brian Brown has the most catches –12 – and the most yards, 142. Brown also has a touchdown catch.
DaVondrick Crowe has eight catches for 67 yards and a leaping touchdown grab against Pine Tree.
Billy Bell has five catches for 47 yards, and Cade Pippen four for 49 yards. B.J. Owens has two catches for 62 yards and a touchdown, and he also had a kick return for a touchdown last week, that opened the second half.
The running game has largely been given to senior Kennieth Lacy and junior Trey Epps. Lacy on the season has 309 yards on six carries and has scored six touchdowns. Epps has more yards (350) and four scores on 43 carries. Kentrell Roy has 59 yards on 11 carries, mostly against Hallsville.
Holes to run through and pass protection come from the offensive line, arguably the most important part of a football team. Kilgore’s got a solid one, from center Brayden Johnson and guys like Calvin Woodside, C.J. Brown, Josh Flores and Devin Coleman, but also Scott Silvey and Carter Clark, and a handful of others.
Kilgore’s kicking game has been solid, as well. Jose Jaime is averaging 38 yards a punt, and has only had to do so nine times in three games. He’s 4-of-5 in extra points this season. Kicker Chris Baldazo has made all of his extra points (nine) and is 1-of-3 in field goal attempts.
Defensively, Kilgore is playing better than in 2018, as well. Jayce McFarland had a team-high 15 tackles, one for loss, an interception and a pass break-up against Pine Tree; Brown, as a defensive back, had 12 stops, a break-up and a forced fumble. Trey Williams had seven tackles; Deundre Blanton had six, to go with one for loss and a hurry, and Adkins, Bell and Kentravious Anderson each had five.
On the season to date, Brown leads everyone in tackles (32) with an interception. McFarland has 27, and two interceptions, and Adkins has 22, also with an interception. Kilgore already has five interceptions and three fumble recoveries.
The Ragin’ Red has allowed 1,115 yards through three games (giving up about 371 yards a game) and forced eight three-and-outs (a punt after three downs).