Jerry Edwards knows Harker Heights was not perfect, but the Knights were productive.
Through the first four weeks of the seasons, the Knights split their games, culminating their nondistrict schedule with a 31-10 loss atAustin Vandegrift last week.
While Harker Heights’ head coach would prefer an unblemished showing, he believes his team accomplished its goal.
“I like where we are at as a team,” Edwards said. “Sure, we’re 2-2, but it doesn’t matter if we were 4-0 going into district play, and I know it is cliché to say and every coach will say it, but it starts over at 0-0 going into district.
“We purposely played certain teams to get us ready for district, and we’ve been in every game. We’re a good football team, but we’ve just got to put it all together and play a complete game.”
In their nondistrict finale, the Knights were in contention for most of the contest.
The Vipers held a slim 17-10 advantage to begin the fourth quarter, but it did not hold for long.
Vandegrift took its first possession of the period 42 yards in seven snaps, using a pass interference penalty against Harker Heights to set up first-and- goal from the 2-yard line. Moments later, Vipers running back Isaiah Smallwood, who finished with a game high 115 rushing yards, recorded his second touchdown.
The Knights were unable to respond, going three and out on their next three possessions.
“We were really in this game until about midway through the fourth quarter,” Edwards said. “The score doesn’t really reflect how close it was, because we had to start trying to make some things happen at the end.”
Vandegrift opened the game with a 70-yard scoring drive as quarterback Justin Moore found Justin Florence for a 7-yard touchdown with 9 minutes, 38 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Less than four minutes later, Harker Heights got on the scoreboard as senior kicker Seth Bodolus connected on a 25-yard field goal.
It proved to be the Knights’ only points of the half, but the Vipers managed to inflate their cushion to 10-3 by halftime thanks to a 41-yard field goal from Alex Stadthaus early in the second quarter.
It did not take long for Harker Heights to trim the deficit to three points, though, thanks to a 53-yard touchdown from quarterback Marcel Ramirez to Jurgen Kruse less than 90 seconds into the third quarter.
But the Knights would not get any closer as each of their next six possessions ended with a punt.
“We played a really good first half,” Edwards said, “but some things just didn’t go our way in the second half, and they jumped on us.
“But Vandegrift deserves a lot of credit for that.”
Jaquan Tillis, a senior, tallied 105 total yards of offense, including a team-high 90 rushing yards, for Harker Heights, while teammate Jameel Hodges had 13 carries for 42 yards, and Ramirez completed 4 of 15 passes for 93 yards.
Looking to return to the playoffs for a second consecutive season, the Knights began their District 8-6A schedule Thursday, hosting Belton at Leo Buckley Stadium, and Edwards is confident his team is ready for the challenge.
“The kids’ heads are in the right place,” Edwards said. “They understand how to respond.
“These first four games were just preparing us for what was coming. … They’ll rise to the challenge. There’s no question about that.”