By Kevin Posival
BELTON – The local team that boasts former area high school standouts J.R. Turner and Greg Brown added a familiar Copperas Cove face a month ago in the midst of an injury-laden stretch.
While the CenTex Barracudas (5-3) struggled at quarterback with the injury to starter Bart Gloyd and the retirement of Shawn Bell, Lance Garner quietly replaced starting kicker Kyle Robinson a day before the Louisiana game.
Garner, now a physical education teacher and middle school coach at Lampasas, missed two field goal attempts and had a third blocked, but converted all three PAT tries on his first day back with the club.
"It's a little tough getting back out there and kicking," said Garner, who still owns the Bulldawgs record for longest field goal in a game. "My legs are little rusty. I kicked a couple of weeks ago in the Louisiana game on a day's notice."
Recently signed starting quarterback James Brown has kept Garner plenty busy, starting with his debut back in the Bell County Expo Center on April 26 against Odessa – a team the Barracudas had never beaten in their three-year history.
"It was actually a tight ballgame going into the fourth quarter," said first-year CenTex head coach Chris Duliban. "(Brown) brings in so much confidence to the field and then with his abilities and talent, he just brings so much to the game."
Against Odessa, CenTex went back to their best start since their 2006 start and the defense answered with four interceptions, two for scores, and a returned fumble for another touchdown.
Garner converted nine of 12 PATS, one of two field goals and averaged more than 40 yards on 12 kickoffs.
Garner started as the only local product on the 2006 inaugural team that opened its season 2-0, like this team, and made it to the first round of the playoffs. The Cove product kicked a few games last season before suffering a groin injury and handing over the kicking duties to Robinson.
Robinson, who started this season, pulled a hip flexor two days before the Louisiana game, forcing Duliban and the Barracudas to coax Garner back into a CenTex uniform.
"The first game was a weird feeling," Garner said. "I hadn't played in so long and have been on the other side of the field coaching. I'm definitely glad to be back."
Duliban said adding another familiar face to the locker room only makes the Barracudas better and poised to make a push in the final half of the season.
"It's really great for the locker room," Duliban said. "We've tried to bring in as many guys with experience and people with experience playing with each other. Especially when you're trying to build a team, it's very important that have confidence with each other, which is as important, if not moreso, than experience with game."
The Barraucdas' win over the Roughnecks snapped a three-game losing stretch and the Barracudas now have won three in row.
"As for the team, they're closer (than in the last two years). Coaching-wise, it's more structured than it has been in the past," Garner said. "Talent-wise, we're just as good, if not better, than that first year and more knowledgeable about the game of (indoor) football.
"It's cool to be back on the same and have the same goal and looking back on the old days," Garner added. "I knew of J.R. (Turner) in high school and played with Greg (Brown) for three years at Sam Houston State. It's good be back together and to see some old faces."
Contact Kevin Posival at firstname.lastname@example.org (254) 501-7562.