• September 24, 2016

After impressive 3-1 start, Knights face Belton in 8-6A clash Friday night

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Posted: Wednesday, September 21, 2016 11:28 pm

Harker Heights was impressive with a 3-1 record in nonleague play.

Now, starting Friday at Belton at 7:30 p.m., the Knights begin their quest to secure their first playoff berth since 2012.

“We played a pretty tough nondistrict schedule, in my opinion,” Heights head coach Jerry Edwards said. “Each week, we played a quality opponent that gave us a little something different to work on both offensively and defensively — different styles. It was just a good nondistrict slate for us, and hopefully it prepared us for our district run.”

And the Knights found different ways to achieve victory.

Hosting Elgin in their season opener, they were efficient in all phases in a 35-14 triumph.

In their 28-7 win over Round Rock McNeil, they chewed the Mavericks up on the ground with running backs Jameel Hodges and Madu Eneli, and their defense was stingy from beginning to end.

In its thrilling 20-19 victory over Austin Vandegrift in Week 4, Heights was again efficient on the ground. It also scored a touchdown on a fake field goal and received some late defensive heroics — highlighted by a game-winning interception by Pablo Alejandro — to seal the deal.

Overall, the Knights’ defense has given opposing offenses fits.

Against their front seven — with defensive linemen Michael Nitti, Jaeshon Jackson, Joseph Evans and C.J. Parker, as well as linebackers Jared Kaltenbaugh, Gabriel Lawrence and Eneli — running the ball has been a chore.

And Alejandro, Hurshie Williams, Jonathan Medina and Marlon Cooper have also provided solid secondary play.

“Our defensive staff does a good job each week, and our kids do a good job of going out there and executing the game plan,” Edwards said.

The big boys on the offensive line have been physical. Elijae Scott, Taunty Motu, Khalil Corbett-Canada, Travis Simpson and Sam Pinkney have opened plenty of holes in the running game, and they have also provided solid protection for quarterback Robert Gray.

“It all starts with our offensive line,” Edwards said. “They are big guys up front, and those five are comfortable with each other. They feed off each other real well, and they take pride in being a big, strong offensive line.”

Because of their effectiveness on the ground, Gray has been able to take advantage and get the ball to wide receivers Jaquan Tillis, Alex Pons, Ryan Lockhart and Zavier Rembert.

The hope is that it all continues to come together for Heights in its District 8-6A opener Friday against Belton (3-1).

Led by quarterback Peyton Mansell and tailback Davion Peoples, the Tigers will present yet another unique challenge for the Knights.

But if they can control the clock on offense and make opportune stops defensively, Edwards feels they can meet that challenge.

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