By Evan Mohl

The Cove Herald

With one district win and another close call, the Belton football program is on the cusp of shedding its dark past and becoming a winning team.

Bulldawgs coach Jack Welch wants to hold off the Tigers for at least one more week.

“This is going to be a tough game,” Welch said. “Belton is playing very well and on the verge of exploding.”

Heading into Friday’s game at 7:30 p.m. in Belton, the Tigers (1-5, 1-2) are deadlocked with five other teams in District 12-5A for third place. With a win, Belton could gain a step in the playoff race.

The No. 7 Dawgs (6-0, 3-0), tied for first with A&M Consolidated, will look to continue their dominance — no team has been closer than 20 points — and solidify their spot in the postseason.

Friday’s contest could be the classic “trap” game for Cove, so here’s four things the Dawgs will need to focus on to stay undefeated.

Pass first, throw second: While most coaches like to run first and pass second, the Tigers are completely opposite. They like to throw first to open up the run.

It’s unconventional and can give opponents trouble.

“We’re actually the exact opposite of Cove,” Belton coach Rodney Southern said. “They like to run first to open up the play action and the rollout. We don’t run the ball well enough to do that, so we’re a bit non-traditional. We pass to open up the run.”

The Dawgs have played three straight teams that rely heavily on the run — Ellison, Temple and Bryan — so there will be some adjustment. Welch, however, is confident his team will be fine.

“We always have passing segments in practice, so we won’t do too much differently,” he said. “It’s like any other week where we simulate the other team, just this week we’ll be preparing for the pass.”

On the season, Belton has thrown for a District 12-5A high of 1,377 yards, but rushed for just 446.

Trickery: Southern delves into his bag of tricks with frequency and no fear. He’ll use onside kicks and fake punts to gain an edge.

Southern pulls out all the stops to get a win.

“They’re gutsy,” Welch said. “They hit you with everything — punt fakes, onside kicks. They’re a young football team with nothing to lose and they’re trying to build a program.”

Cove must prepare for anything.

David Ash: The sophomore won the starting quarterback position back in the spring, and has been nothing short of excellent. Ash leads the league in completion percentage (61), completions (101) and yards (1,316).

“He’s been good for us,” Southern said. “He’s made some mistakes, which you expect from a sophomore, but he really drives most of our offense.”

Ash has thrown seven interceptions, so a fast and sure-handed Dawg secondary will try to capitalize. Cove ranks first in District 12-5A in interceptions (12), doubling the total of the next closest team.

Run for it: After facing the best rushing defense in the district (and gaining for a respectable 134 yards), the Dawgs get to take on Belton, a team that gives up the second most yards on the ground in 12-5A.

Cove, a team that ranks second in the league in rushing yards, should be able to take advantage. Expect Brandin Byrd and Will Wright to get the ball early and often.

Contact Evan Mohl at emohl@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7564.

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