Peter Shelburne wants the Temple game back. And the Copperas Cove game too. Derick Bates wants Mesquite back. They were the only three losses of the season for Belton. And in each of them, a series of turnovers that resulted in one bad quarter doomed the Tigers.
Temple scored 23 unanswered in the second quarter against Belton. And both the Bulldawgs and Mesquite had 21-point third quarters.
“You don’t want to lose that one to Temple, and Cove — we have been trying to beat them for a long time and that game was close and just got away from us,” Shelburne said.
While they can’t have the games back, both Bates and Shelburne will get another shot at defeating their rivals this season. Both know that the key to doing that is eliminating those turnovers and creating an even stronger quarterback-wide receiver bond.
“In the games we lost last year, we had four or five turnovers and that is something we have to eliminate,” said Shelburne, who admittedly struggled to find consistency last season.
The Belton senior quarterback threw two or more interceptions five times. However, he also threw for 2,280 yards and 13 touchdowns.
“I think maturity is any time you get experience,” said Belton coach Rodney Southern. “Peter took us on a game-winning drive in the first game of the year, but against Temple, Cove and the playoff game, he got nervous.
“Hopefully some of that is better. You are never going to lose it all. But, hopefully (he does better) protecting the ball.”
One thing that will help, though, is having his favorite target back. Bates and Shelburne should form one of the most explosive quarterback-receiver tandems in District 8-5A.
Bates, the 6-foot, 200-pound first-team Daily Herald all-area receiver in 2011 became the primary receiver for Belton last season, catching 44 passes for 792 yards and six touchdowns.
“I thought the thing that surprised some people is that Derick is so talented at catching the deep ball,” Southern said. “He had a really good 7-on-7 this summer. Peter has discovered that when someone uses their safety to double (tight end) Durham (Smythe) or a matchup on the other side, that if he gets 1-on-1 coverage with Derick, he needs to take a shot (downfield).”
The two, according to Southern, have developed a chemistry that should provide fireworks this season, especially if Belton goes back to passing the ball like it did when Texas Longhorns quarterback David Ash was under center for the Tigers two years ago.
“I’d love to be 50-50, but if we have to go to more of a passing route then we should be OK, because Peter should be able to handle that,” Southern said.
Bates and Shelburne would relish the opportunity. Bates wants to catch 100 passes this season or at the least have 1,000 yards receiving.
“When you throw the ball in his direction he is going to do whatever he can do (to bring it in),” Shelburne said. “He is not the fastest guy in the world, but once the ball is in the air he is going to go get it.”
Bates also has faith in his quarterback.
“We have known each other so long and we just have a great connection,” he said. “He is going to lead me to where I need to be to make that great catch.”
Shelburne knows the more great catches the two can pair up for, the more wins Belton will ring up. Then there might not be any games to take back.
“A few years ago, we went 0-10 and you could see that no one expected to win. Now, it is a different mindset,” he said. “Everyone expects us to win and make the playoffs.”