By Nick Talbot
Killeen Daily Herald
Winners of four straight games, Belton (4-4) now controls its playoff fate.
That fate, as it has all season, lies in the hands of senior quarterback David Ash.
For first time since its inception, the votes on www.KDHpressbox.com did not determine the winner of the Player of the Week award. This time, after a voting snafu, the award was given by the staff at the Herald by sheer merit. And it was probably overdue, too.
Ash is completing 61 percent of his passes and has thrown for 2,454 yards - more than 1,500 yards than his next closest rival in 12-5A - with 32 touchdowns (averaging four per game) to only eight interceptions already this season.
At his current pace, Ash will throw for more than 3,000 yards and 40 touchdowns with just two games left in the regular season.
Against Ellison, Belton needed every yard he could muster as he finished 19-of-27 passing for 268 yards and four scores.
"I thought he was probably as poised as he has been all year (against Ellison)," Belton head coach Rodney Southern said. "And his play all year had been exactly what we expected. He only had one night where we thought he could have played better. The last three or four weeks, though, he has played extremely well."
Ash also got it done on the ground versus the Eagles, running 13 times for 55 yards and another touchdown. He is also, leading the 12-5A with a whopping 48.6 yards per punt.
Other players up for this week's award were Lampasas' Justin Maldonado, Salado's Hadley Joiner and Gatesville's Jake Kee. Maldonado ran for 208 yard sand four touchdowns in the Badgers' 31-14 win over Salado, while Joiner helped lead her volleyball team to yet another district title last week.
Kee came out of nowhere to rush for 78 yards and two key touchdowns in Gatesville's win over Waco Connally.
But, it was Ash that seemed the most deserving after he methodically led Belton to touchdown drives on its first four possessions for a 28-21 first-half lead. Then, after the Eagles tied the game at 34-34 with nine minutes to play. Ash carried or passed the Tigers down field for the game-winning field goal over Ellison.
"The biggest thing (with having Ash) is we always have a chance to win the game," Southern said. "We always have a chance to score and just to have that caliber of athlete at the QB position enables you to always have a chance (to win)."
Editor's note: This week's player of the week voting on www.KDHpressbox.com was disabled due to violations of voting protocol, as the vote total soared above 95,000 - many of which we could not confirm the validity on. Voting will, however, be re-enabled this weekend for a new Player of the Week contest.