Troy Smith left Leo Buckley Stadium frustrated.
The feelings had nothing to do with Harker Heights’ performance during the Killeen ISD 7-on-7 football league Tuesday evening. Instead, his irritation stems from not being able to go full speed on the field.
“They are teasing us right now,” the Knights rising junior quarterback said. “They are teasing us with 7-on-7. They give us a football and tell us to go play football, but we want to be physical and have a scoreboard and ‘ahhs and ‘oohs’ coming from the stands.”
Until the regular season schedules begins in late August, though, Smith must settle for 7-on-7.
Harker Heights did not win any of its three games during the second session of the month-long league consisting off all four KISD schools and Salado. Nevertheless, Smith believes the Knights accomplished a lot simply by taking the field together.
“For the offense, (7-on-7) is mostly just about our timing, so once you do step on the actual field, you know when and where to throw the ball when it is time to,” he said. “It’s coming along good, but not just for Heights alone. A lot of teams came out here and showed out and performed.”
Host school Killeen fielded two teams in the six-team field and had a fairly successful outing, going 4-2 between the squads.
Kangaroos quarterback Garrett Gaskamp, who was playing for the maroon squad, was solid in a three-game sweep of the competition, connecting with teammate Dominic Dungca numerous times for big plays, including several touchdowns.
But like Smith, Gaskamp is not putting too much stock into Killeen’s 7-on-7 showing.
“We keep it in perspective — 7-on-7 is football, but its not like (it is) during the season,” the District 8-5A second team quarterback said. “We take it personally, but it is nothing to get too serious about.”
While the weekly league, which Ellison will host this week, is a far cry from the type of football teams will play in the fall, Dungca feels it will benefit the team during the regular season, especially between himself and Gaskamp.
“We are not just going through the motions, we are trying to go to another level,” the rising senior said of his timing with Gaskamp. “We are on (the same) level, but we want it to be higher. There is always more room for improvement.”
Killeen’s maroon team defeated Harker Heights, Ellison and Shoemaker to emerge as the only undefeated team of the evening. After beating Salado and Harker Heights, Shoemaker’s lone loss came against the Kangaroos’ maroon squad in the final game, and Salado, Ellison and Killeen’s white team each went 1-2.
Despite his team’s record on the day, Salado’s first-year coach Brent Graham believes his Eagles delivered an admirable performance against larger programs, losing their first game soundly to the Grey Wolves before bouncing to defeat Killeen’s white team and nearly upsetting Ellison in a 20-18 loss.
“This is productive,” Graham said. “We come out here and compete against some of the best (Class) 5A players in the area. So, we feel like if we can come and compete out here, then we are accomplishing what we set out to do.”