By Alex Byington
Killeen Daily Herald
BELTON - A defensive-minded football coach, Rodney Southern said he's especially going to feel the graduations of Tim Bower and Broderick Crain.
The Belton seniors declared their intentions to play at cross-town University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in a ceremony Wednesday at the high school.
The impact won't just be felt because they were good players or influential team leaders, but because of the versatility each afforded the Belton athletic director on the Tigers' top-ranked defense in District 12-5A last year.
"It makes it a lot easier for us because it's a whole lot easier to gameplan somebody, and for lack of a better phrase - to scratch where it itches," Southern said. "Is it itching over there? Well you put (Bower and Crain) over there."
Bower, a lanky 6-foot-5, 180-pound defensive end, was a sack-master for the Tigers, while the 5-foot-8 Crain was a one-on-one cover corner, and their mere presence afforded Belton (10-2, 6-1) the unique ability to run multiple defensive sets throughout a game.
"With the flexibility that we had, I could do all those things and put (Bower) where ever I needed to put him, and the other thing that he, Broderick, Zac (Sakaria) and a bunch of them did, was they understood when we made a change, it was done like that," Southern said, snapping his fingers. "Having the ability to (spread the defense around) gives you so much flexibility as a coach."
Both first team all-District 12-5A selections, Bower led Belton with nine sacks while Crain led the district with three interceptions.
"Timmy was one of those guys, because of what we do defensively and the position he was playing, he was asked to put his hand on the ground, to be in coverage, to be a linebacker - it's kind of an odd position and you don't find it all the time," Southern said. "If we find a person like that, it makes our defense so much more effective."
The versatility should bode well for their transition to UMHB, a place both chose based on their familiarity and closeness to family and friends in Belton.
"When I went to the campus, I felt really, really comfortable there - I felt right at home," Crain said.
For Bower, he felt connected from the first visit.
"Everybody says that when you go somewhere, you'll just know you're in the right place, and that's how I felt at UMHB," Bower said, who chose the Crusaders over West Texas, while Crain turned down an offer from Abilene Christian.
"Basically, my decision was I just wanted to stay at home," said Crain, who added he planned to live with his mother for at least the first of college. "And UHMB has a good program, so I feel like it's a win-win situation."
Contact Alex Byington at email@example.com or (254) 501-7566.