Revenge can be a powerful motivator in football, sometimes almost as powerful as a championship.
Kilgore College lost just two games in the entirety of the 2018 season: one of them was at Cisco, about a year ago.
And the Rangers want to return the favor.
KC, 3-0 and tied with Butler (Kan.) as the second-ranked team in the nation, will host Cisco College (2-0) in a Southwest Junior College Football Conference game here at R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium on Saturday night, a 7 p.m. kickoff.
The Rangers have beaten Tyler and Navarro, and then went on the road – a long road, all the way to Roswell, N.M. – to beat New Mexico Military last week. The game against Tyler was the annual non-conference game between the two (they play again at Rose Stadium the final week of the regular season), but the other two games were both conference wins. The Rangers are 2-0, and already on their way to the goal of repeating as the conference’s regular season champion.
Cisco, on the other hand, has played a pair of overmatched teams in Rezolution Prep (spelled correctly), and the unheralded Texas A&T, which, in over five years of matchups with SWJCFC teams, has yet to win a single one.
The Wranglers beat RP, 55-7, then beat A&T, 56-7, a week ago. They’ve yet to play a conference game.
Cisco’s numbers are a bit deceiving due to the level of their competition, but they’re averaging 475 total yards and 261 passing yards a game.
The Wranglers have used three quarterbacks: sophomores Donovan Davenport and Blain Kruemcke, and freshman Kyle Burns. Davenport has thrown for 243 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions; Kruemcke for 197 yards and four touchdowns; and Burns for 82 yards and a TD.
Their running game is similar: no one has separated themselves. Greg Garner has 164 rushing yards and two scores. Antwone Parker has ran for 106 yards and a score, and Willie Phillips for 79 yards and two scores.
Darion Chain has seven catches for 102 yards and two touchdowns; Julian Johnson has four, for 117 and three scores.
Gage Urias is 14-of-14 on extra point attempts and has made two of the three field goals he’s kicked. But he’s averaging 49 yards a punt.
The Wranglers have been good defensively, and pressuring the quarterback. They have eight sacks as a team, and freshman defensive lineman Blake Thomas leads the way with three. Linebacker Sese Aumavae leads Cisco with 13 tackles, a sack, and two pass break-ups. Defensive back John Blunt has two interceptions.
Kilgore College, of course, is in the first year for head coach Willie Gooden, continuing what the Rangers started a year ago. They went 10-2 last year, finished as the best team in the conference for the regular season, won the conference playoff title, and then won the Heart of Texas Bowl.
They’ve won 11 straight games, counting the three this year.
In the three games, KC has outscored the opposition 113-69. They did have a closer call with the road win at NMMI, but quarterback Jacob Frazier and Omar Manning connected with time winding down to give the Rangers a nine-point lead and put the game out of reach.
Speaking of Frazier, it looks like he made a wise decision to come back for his sophomore year. He was injured, a broken leg, five snaps into the season last year, and had to watch from the sidelines as the Rangers went on their run. This year, he’s very much in the thick of it.
Frazier is 52-of-77 for 869 yards, eight touchdowns and two interceptions. He’s averaging 289 passing yards a game, and also has three rushing touchdowns.
Largely due to Frazier’s hot hand, the Rangers have thrown the ball quite a bit. They’re averaging 308 passing yards, 150 rush yards and 458 total yards a game, and giving up about 23 points a game defensively.
Manning, the former TCU standout who transferred to KC prior to last season, seems to be getting offers from just about every four-year program worth its salt in the U.S., and he’s been as good as advertised. He’s got 14 catches for 369 yards and three scores so far this year, and averages 26 ½ yards a catch. And he’s got good company.
Gabe Douglas has 11 catches for 196 yards and two scores, and Kevon Latulas and even Scooter Adams, out of the backfield, have gotten in on the act.
The running game has yielded 451 yards and six scores, and has been led by Adams and newcomer Earnest Crownover. Crownover has 134 yards and a score on 27 carries; Adams has 101 yards on 21 carries; and both Frazier (the three scores) and second-string QB Cade Pearson have helped as well. Manning also has a rushing touchdown.
Defensively, KC has six sacks so far this year and five interceptions, two by Geovonte Howard. Freshman linebacker Quinton Sharkey is just that: a shark. He seems to be everywhere. He’s got 18 tackles (leads the team), 14 assisted tackles, and an interception.
The Rangers’ schedule has another long road trip next week, to Miami, Okla., to face Northeastern Oklahoma A&M (NEO), and then KC hosts A&T for the annual KC hall of fame game Saturday, Sept. 28. The 2019 KC athletics hall of fame inductees will be honored at a luncheon earlier that day, and introduced at halftime.
The first weekend of October sends the Rangers to Athens to take on Trinity Valley.