Harker Heights did everything it needed to earn its first win against Belton in the first half Friday.
It was the second half that was an issue for the Knights.
That is why -- after falling victim to a second-half rally by Belton in a 42-38 loss — coach Jerry Edwards and his staff have preached finishing this week in advance of the Knights’ showdown with Killeen on Friday at Buckley Stadium.
“We’ve just got to develop that killer mentality,” Edwards said. “So we changed up practice a little bit, talked about attitude and a mindset, what it takes to finish, practiced being up in a game and learning how to finish.”
Friday was the second time Heights (0-4, 0-1 in District 8-5A) has given up a double-digit lead this season as the Knights were up 17 against Belton early in the second half.
Senior running back Marcus Anderson II was a big reason for that as he rushed for 175 yards in the opening half.
“(The first half) was good, the holes were really open,” Anderson said. “We prepared good for this team.”
But the Knights didn’t fare as well in the second half as Belton scored 21 unanswered points to end the game.
Now, Anderson said his team is focused on coming out of halftime with the same mentality it had to start the game.
“Let’s just keep the game going and beat them all four quarters and not just the first half,” Anderson said.
Of course, to have surrendered two double-digit leads, Heights had to play well enough to go up two scores, which Edwards said is a positive to take away from the losses. And it’s a positive he doesn’t want his team to forget.
“I’ve been telling the kids for weeks now that we’re a really, really good football team,” Edwards said. “We’re a couple of snaps away from being 3-1.
“And the kids know that, and we’re fighting through it.”
But there will be no rest for the weary this week as Heights will face a Killeen team coming off of its first win against Copperas Cove since 1995.
Senior running back Daniel McCants rushed 42 times for 276 yards and six touchdowns in the Killeen victory, and Edwards said stopping him will be the focal point of the defense.
“(McCants) is electrifying,” Edwards said. “He’s as good as advertised, he’s a great tailback.
“Bottom line is we’ve got to find a way to stop No. 6 and force them to beat us with somebody else.”
Heights is giving up an average of 42.5 points per game, and will face a Killeen team fresh off scoring a season-high 47 points in the win against Cove.
But Anderson said it will be up to the offense and the defense to get the job done against the Roos.
“Just keep giving the offense the ball, and we’re going to keep trying to score the ball,” Anderson said. “Just keep trying to finish and make more points.”
As for how the team has handled the disappointing loss to Belton, Edwards said his team is in a good place mentally.
And despite still searching for its first win, the Knights aren’t any less discouraged than they were entering district play last week.
“I said (the loss) doesn’t matter,” Edwards said. “Everything we want to do is still out in front of us, we’ve just got to go finish and get ready for Killeen.”
Contact Jordan Mason at email@example.com or 254-501-7562