After nearly a year away from the sights and sounds of Friday night lights, Florence senior receiver Jimmy Struble just soaked in everything about last week’s game.
“Just the emotions of the game. The crowd is a huge factor and a varsity team is so hyped, I had a whole lot of fun,” Struble said. “It was probably the funnest game I’ve ever played in.”
Seeing his first varsity action with Florence after transferring from Round Rock two games into last season, Struble made the most of his debut, leading the way with 11 receptions for 118 yards and a touchdown in a 20-13 win over Thorndale. He also added an interception on defense and a point-after kick.
The showing was more than enough to earn his KDHpressbox.com Player of the Week honors for the week of Sept. 9-14, marking the second consecutive week a Buffaloes football player won after senior quarterback — and Struble’s best friend — Kaleb Hardy won last week.
“What it means is the program is going in the right direction, and we’re having success, because if you’re not having success, you’re not getting players of the week,” Smith said. “That’s a good thing for the team and the program, and it’s great for the kids and the community.”
It was also the second time in as many weeks that a 300-plus yard rushing performance from Shoemaker senior Johnny Jefferson only earned him runner-up status in the voting.
From the time Struble’s girlfriend broke the news of his nomination to him Monday morning, the support only intensified in the coming days, as he finished with 339 of the 521 total for 65 percent of the votes cast this week.
“There were a couple of people here and there every day that’d say, ‘I just voted for you’ and it put a smile to my face every time,” Struble said.
Jefferson rushed for 314 yards in a 23-20 loss to Round Rock Stony Point last Thursday, nearly eclipsing the KISD single-game record of 317 yards by Killeen’s Travis Davis in 2001. But it wasn’t enough to reel in enough support again, finishing with just 112 votes.
Called up from the junior varsity just last week, Struble was required to sit out the first two weeks of the season after playing in two games as a junior at Round Rock.
Playing football together since both were in the seventh grade, the Hardy-Struble connection made an almost immediate impact on the offense, as Hardy finished 20-39 for 200 yards.
“To me, it just felt like we were just running in practice, it felt so natural to catch a pass from him and everybody was just doing their job like they would in practice,” Struble said. “It was a really exciting feeling.”
Also earning nominations were Harker Heights senior setter Katie Schulte, who averaged 31 assists as the No. 18 Lady Knights defeated Killeen and Waco Midway to improve to 3-0 in District 8-5A play, and Belton junior tailback Brandon Rhoads, who rushed for 193 yards and two touchdowns in the Tigers 42-16 win over Bryan last Friday.