For the Killeen Kangaroos, the spring football season wasn’t as much about new defensive schemes or blitz packages as it was about re-establishing a mentality. And that new mindset was on display Friday.
The defense ruled during the second half of the Maroon and White spring football game at Leo Buckley Stadium.
“It was like a wake-up call to what the season’s going to be like and what it’s going to feel like,” junior linebacker Peyton Searcy said. “It was just running around getting after each other.”
The Maroon team came out on top, but more importantly, the defense on both teams made plays.
Last season, Killeen finished 3-7, including a 3-4 District 8-5A record, and finished one game behind Copperas Cove for the final playoff spot.
Killeen head coach Sam Jones said he wanted to see more defense at the spring game. Kangaroo opponents scored an average of 37.4 points per game last season.
“I saw some linebackers come downhill, I saw Searcy play with a lot of excitement like he did all last year and the secondary has even grown up a little bit,” Killeen head coach Sam Jones said.
The Maroon team led 17-14 at half
time and the defense from both teams took over in the second half.
Both the Maroon and White teams combined for just three first downs and failed on all nine third-down conversions.
“It was great seeing the lights come back on, it’s Friday night and everybody’s out watching,” Searcy said. “It’s great and nothing compares.”
Both teams combined for three interceptions, all of which came in key points.
The Maroon team had a first-and-10 from the White 32 when Justin Tillis intercepted Keondre Parker down the near sideline to stall the drive.
Maroon team defensive back Eddie Adams hauled in two second-half interceptions, including the game-clinching turnover late in the fourth quarter to preserve the win.
The Roos were rotating in three quarterbacks on both teams with Parker proving to be the most productive. But the defense showed it could adjust to the junior.
Parker threw for 165 yards and two touchdowns, but did the bulk of his damage in the first half. The defense held him to two completions on nine attempts for 22 yards in the second half.
The winning score came when Maroon team receiver Dante Ellis-Thomas connected with Keleen Yates on a reverse pass for a 77-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
The Roos now turn their attention to summer workouts in preparation for the beginning of fall practice on Aug. 11.
Killeen scrimmages former district rival Temple on Aug. 22 at Buckley Stadium, opens the regular season at Leander on Aug. 29 and begins District 12-6A play Oct. 10 against Belton.
“We’re going to do what we can to get back to playoff-caliber football here,” Jones said.