By Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
The Kangaroos inch forward another game toward their district 16-4A schedule tonight in Pflugerville to take on the 0-2 Connally Cougars at 7:30 p.m.
The preseason match-up could be the most tale-telling for the Roos (2-1) who have won their last two after losing a lopsided game to the Ellison Eagles three weeks ago.
"It's going to be a great preseason game to play on the road," KHS head coach Sam Jones said.
"Even though we've been the visitor the past couple of weeks, (against Shoemaker and Harker Heights) we've still played in our own back yard. (Tonight) we're going to have to get on a bus, stay focused and concentrate and then got off the bus and play."
The Cougars, favored to be contenders in numerous preseason polls, will be celebrating their homecoming tonight and will be looking to notch a win before they begin 25-4A district play next week.
Michael Maldonado, the Cougars' preseason projected starting quarterback, will start his first game tonight after injuring his right elbow in an early preseason practice.
Maldonado saw his first prime time action last Thursday night in the Cougars' 28-7 loss to Ellison when third-string quarterback Josh Hernandez made an early exit with a broken right hand that will keep him on the sidelines for about three weeks, Connally head coach, Matt Monzingo anticipates. Maldonado completed both his pass attempts for 58 yards.
Hernandez stepped-in for second-string quarterback Darius Darks in the Cougars' first scrimmage against Round Rock when Darks injured his left hand.
Even with a cast on his hand, Darks was a presence for the Cougars in the secondary with a 68-yard interception return for the Cougars' only touchdown last week.
"He's got that cast," Jones said. "Unfortunately for us, he can still run and catch well with that cast."
Darks led the Cougars defense with 79 tackles last year as a sophomore. He also had a team-high four interceptions for 124 yards, not to mention his 11 catches for 115 yards as offensive receiving threat last year.
Defensively, Jones also has taken note of the size and quickness of the defensive ends, traits that Jones sees the entire Cougar defense having.
"Our defense is our greatest strength," Monzingo said. "The key for us is to keep moving the ball and to keep the defense off the field.
"Our offensive line is a strength, inexperience aside. I've been especially impressed with how we've been able to run the ball from deep in our own territory."
Cougar standout tailback Ryan Reed, recognized last year for his role at defensive end, has carried the ball for 100-plus yards in each of the Cougars' two games, including 101 yards last week on 16 carries, "but he's turned the ball over," Monzingo said.
Last week, the Cougars fumbled the ball seven times and lost three of those.
"You're not going to beat a lot teams doing the things we've been doing," Monzingo said.
"Killeen may be the best team we play all year. They have quickness on defense, something that's always tough to play against. The quarterback (junior Alijawon White) is not real flashy, but he's getting the job done.
"They've been doing what we've been doing made a lot of mental mistakes," Monzingo said of penalties and turnovers. "I think they are a little ahead of us because they're getting the job done."
The Kangaroos have 11 turnovers so far on the year, including seven White interceptions. Fortunately for the Roos, Harker Heights could not convert on his three of those last week.
"They (Pflugerville Connally) looked like what we did in our first game," Jones said referring to Connally's game against Ellison. "They're a solid, talented ballclub. It's going to be a physical game. I think they're going to get back to what they do best, running the football, which is great because it will prepare us for the Coves and Waco Highs that we'll see in district.
"(Connally) can throw the football. They can do what's in their scheme. We'll just have to wait and see which team shows up – the team that's ranked or the team they've been the last couple of weeks."
Contact Kevin Posival at firstname.lastname@example.org