BANGS — A year ago, the Dublin Lions avoided a winless campaign by defeating the Bangs Dragons in their final game of the season.
Friday night at Memorial Stadium, the Dragons will attempt to return the favor and dodge their second 0-10 season in three years when the Lions come to town.
Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.
“It would be a big deal to finish out the year with a win after going 0-for,”said Bangs third-year head coach Jim Bird. “It’d be a good boost for the kids, a small reward at the end of the year, and a pay off for the seniors to be successful that last game.
“We’re exactly role reversed. Dublin’s 2-7, we finished 2-7 last year. They were 0-9 and got to kick off their next season so to speak with a victory. It’s not going to be an easy game, there are no easy games when you’re 0-9. You have to fight, claw and scratch for everything you’ve got. But if our kids play really well and play inspired it’s a game we can win. They have to give it all they’ve got one more time and try and end it right.”
The Dragons (0-9, 0-4) are coming off a 68-6 loss to Eastland last week, as Bangs has been outscored an average of 57-4 during district competition. The Dragons have scored no more than 12 points and allowed no fewer than 46.
Against Eastland, Bangs generated 269 total yards with Colton Brewer back under center, but the defense surrendered 466 yards. Brewer completed 20 of 40 passes for 202 yards with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Seth Anderson, and Brewer also rushed for a team-best 77 yards.
“Last week in the first half we weren’t clean, we turned the ball over twice and had a punt returned for a touchdown,” Bird said. “We told the guys at halftime to go play clean and we can move the football. We just weren’t able to finish. Eastland tightened up the closer we got and they’re a good team with a good defense. We were able to move the ball in spite of that and rack up some yards, we just couldn’t put the ball in the end zone as we got close and that’s a testament to their defense – they bent but they didn’t break.”
Dublin (2-7, 0-4), meanwhile, was denied a playoff berth in a 28-20 loss to Coleman last week. Though the Lions possess just two victories this season — over Breckenridge (27-24) and Bosqueville (45-26) — Dublin has been competitive in most games, particularly the district schedule.
“They were able to score three times on Cisco and played Tolar to a two-point game,” Bird said.
The Lions are averaging 20 points and 292 yards — 199 passing and 93 rushing — per outing, while giving up 37 points.
Quarterback Josh Hanes has completed 124 of 209 passes for 1,743 yards with 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions, and also serves as the team’s leading rusher with 402 yards and seven trips to the end zone.
Primary receiving threats are Jacob Stanley (34-604, 4 TDs), Tyshon Hopkins (20-287, TD), Billy Mercer (18-287, 4 TDs) and Blake Porter (16-251, 4 TDs). Keith Wright (236 rushing yards, 2 TDs) is a weapon out of the backfield, and Stanley (153 yards, TD) has been at times as well.
“Their passing game to me is the scary part about them,” Bird said. “They have some size up front, some big offensive linemen, along with some big, tall receivers. They’ve been able to throw and catch the ball on anybody to some extent. They also have a thick running back that we’re going to have to be able to tackle, he’s just not just going to fall down. We have to be cognoscente of that. But their big play capability is with their receivers.”
The Dragons enter the contest allowing 51 points while producing just 14.
Brewer is both the leading passer (106 of 205 for 1,320 yards, 8 TDs, 2 INTs) and rusher (459 yards, 7 TDs) for the Dragons, while receiving threats include Justin Wilson (41-557 yards, 5 TDs), Seth Anderson (20-202, 2 TDs), George Nicholas (17-257, TD) and Steven Montgomery (17-143).
“Offensively we need to have a big night,” Bird said. “I think our offense against their defense is a good matchup. I like that matchup for us and I think we’ll be able to move the ball. We should be able to score some points.”
Regardless of the outcome of the season finale, Bird believes this season will serve as a life lesson for the Dragons going forward.
“In this day and age it’s easier for young people to quit than to battle through adversity,” Bird said. “Everybody who will suit out Thursday and Friday has battled from start to finish. None of them are quitters or they wouldn’t be here. I couldn’t be more proud of them. They’re a good character group of guys, they do things right, they show up and work hard and their attitudes are good. They’re doing the very best they can do every day. As they go out in the world hopefully they can use the lessons from a tough season like this to stick with something and never quit.”
Last year, Dublin upended Bangs, 48-28, for its only win of the season.
According to Harris Ratings Weekly, the Dragons are a 24-point underdog.