The Killeen Kangaroos know how to win.
The Roos offense knows how to put together game-winning drives in the waning minutes and the Killeen defense knows when to lock down and hold its spot.
Now is that time.
After three nail-biting, nondistrict wins, including Friday night’s 42-41 win over Round Rock Stony Point, Killeen (3-0) opens its first 5A district season in more than a decade in the tough-at-the-top District 8-5A.
“I’d rather be winning than losing because the kids need confidence, no doubt about that,” Killeen coach Sam Jones said. “But every team in the district is 0-0. It doesn’t make a difference. Now’s the time, whatever we do starting next week, that’s when it counts.”
The Roos scored game-winning touchdowns in the final minute of their first two games and, following their bye week, staved off Stony Point’s rally on Friday by holding firm on the Tigers’ potential game-winning two-point conversion try to go into their District 8-5A opener this week at defending 12-5A champion and longtime nemesis Copperas Cove.
After a lackluster first half, Killeen scored touchdowns on its first four possessions of the second half to take a 42-21 lead early in the fourth quarter. Stony Point rallied with three scores in the final three minutes but the Roos’ defense stopped quarterback Aidan Barrera’s two-point conversion run a yard short of the end zone.
Tigers D sparks win
Belton was down 12-0.
A couple of big offensive plays put the Tigers back in the game. But it was the defense that sparked a 41-12 win over Round Rock. With Belton up 20-12, the Dragons had driven down to the Tigers’ 15-yard line. But on fourth-and-1, Tyler Santellana broke through the Round Rock backfield and took down running back Deandre Story for a 1-yard loss and gave Belton new life.
Peter Shelburne threw an interception with the Tigers driving , but Belton cornerback Nate Mitchell picked off Round Rock’s Zach Bellville on the next play and returned it for a touchdown, giving Belton a comfortable 27-12 lead and putting it on a path to the blowout.
By the Numbers
- 4 — Average margin of victory by Killeen in its three nondistrict wins.
- 21.5 — Average number of yards per catch for Belton receivers in the Tigers’ 41-12 win over Round Rock.
- Waco Midway (3-0) at Ellison (0-3), 7 p.m. Thursday — The first game of the new District 8-5A pits one of the favorites to win the district title and one that’s expected to finish last following an 0-10 season last year. Ellison, which has lost 13 straight games, has found a workhorse in Isiah Cowan, who had 155 rushing yards and a touchdown in a 24-16 near-comeback loss to Waco two weeks ago. Midway, which is led by quarterback Kramer Robertson and Division I-caliber receiver Hunter Jarmon, is among the top offenses in the district, averaging 467 yards per game while holding 8-5A’s top defense, limiting teams to just 155 yards per game.
- Killeen (3-0) at Copperas Cove (2-1), 7:30 p.m. Friday — All of a sudden, the Bulldawgs’ season-opening loss to A&M Consolidated isn’t looking like a bad beat. The Tigers, who upset five-time state champion and previously top-ranked Lake Travis 30-28, beat Cove 31-20 in the season-opener. The Bulldawgs have won their last two games 97-14 while the Roos have had to play to the final buzzer for all three of their wins this season.
- Shoemaker (1-2) at Temple (2-1), 7:30 p.m. Friday — Two years ago, Temple beat Shoemaker for the one win the two teams combined for in 2010. Now both have playoff aspirations and legitimate superstars to get their teams there. Temple quarterback Zach Allen is the district’s leading passer (884 yards, 6 TDs) and Shoemaker running back Johnny Jefferson is the district’s leading rusher (739 yards, 9 TDs).
- Belton (3-0) at Harker Heights (0-3), 7:30 p.m. Friday — Another game that pits one of District 8-5A’s elite teams against one that is struggling just to get in the end zone. The Knights, who have dealt with much-publicized injuries to a pair of key cogs, have only scored 10 points through the first three games, including a 10-0 shutout two weeks ago to Cedar Park. By the same token, Belton features one of the district’s highest- scoring offense (averaging 32 points per game) and is led by senior quarterback Peter Shelburne and big-play threat Derick Bates (22.9 yards-per-catch average).