The Belton Tigers begin District 8-6A action at home on Friday against Harker Heights.
“I see a Heights team that is very well coached and athletic,” said Belton head coach Bob Shipley. “They’ve got great team speed, good size and good schemes. They can beat anyone on their schedule so it will be our toughest game to date.”
Both squads faced challenging tests during their nondistrict slates and each finished with a 3-1 record.
“I still don’t know what our strengths are because we haven’t been very consistent,” Shipley said. “Our offensive line plays well at times and struggles at times. Our receivers play well at times but need to be more consistent. Our backs have put the ball on the ground too much but have looked really good at times.
“I think the overall team chemistry we have is truly our strength. These guys love each other and play with a lot of heart.
“I think our quarterback play has probably been our most consistent part of our offense.”
Oh yeah, him. That guy.
One of the elite quarterbacks in Texas, senior and Iowa-commit Peyton Mansell is averaging 7.6 yards on his 60 carries, scoring seven times. He’s completed 73 of 100 passes for 882 yards with nine TD strikes.
“I give a lot of the credit for our success on offense this season to our total cohesiveness on the field,” Mansell said. “Everyone has been on the same page.
“We know it’s the start of district now and a lot of teams might get overhyped. I don’t think we’ll have that problem. We’re still here at the fields at 6:15 every morning and we don’t leave until 6:15 at night.
“Heights is quick, scrappy and they pose a tough matchup for us. But it’s important to us that we keep ourselves levelheaded.”
Last week, Mansell rushed for 205 yards, tossed for 304 and scored the game-winning TD against Round Rock on a 1-yard run behind solid blocks by Colton Cloer and Caleb Smith.
Mansell is surrounded by talent.
Guard Jerrod Jackson and center Aaron Kruger are bulldozers. Running backs Davion Peoples and Bryce Julian are chain movers. Mansell is comfortable tossing the rock to Logan Collins, Weston Lucas, Lane Holmes, John Taggart and Remington Lutz, among others.
“We do need to work on cutting down on turnovers,” Shipley said. “Defensively, we have to continue to improve and stop giving up big plays. We’re so much better defensively than we’ve been the past couple of years but we’re certainly not where we want to be yet.
“Heights has been playing great defense so obviously scoring will be a challenge for us.”
Contact Allan Mandell at email@example.com or 254-501-7566 and read his column at KDHPressbox.com