Story By Richard Croome
KILLEEN — The Rudder Rangers will have to wait to end their losing streak, and Will Compton’s first victory as Rudder’s head coach is on hold, but both coach and team say it’s within reach after a 40-14 loss to the Killeen Shoemaker Grey Wolves.
The Class 6A Grey Wolves’ opening win Friday at Leo Buckley Stadium came on the heels of a 7-4 season, which included a playoff game for the first time since 2005.
Class 5A Rudder is coming off a winless season and has lost 12 in a row.
“Like I told the kids, turning this around is not going to be easy,” Compton said. “It’s a process, and we have to trust in the process. We have to come back to work tomorrow and make corrections and be positive and keep on playing for each other.”
The Rangers improved in the second half, holding the Grey Wolves to no offensive touchdowns after falling behind 32-7 in a breakneck-paced first half that saw both teams going no huddle and getting in 82 total plays.
“We train extremely hard, and at halftime down 32-7 we wanted to come out and play the second half like it was 0-0,” Compton said. “That’s cliche … but the kids did a good job of refocusing and staying with their asssignments. Hats off to Shoemaker. Their staff did a good job, and they made more plays.”
Derrick Thomas made Shoemaker’s biggest plays, grabbing touchdown passes of 26 and 44 yards from quarterback Demetris Taylor. Thomas had another long touchdown catch called back because of a holding call.
The Grey Wolves alternated quarterbacks each series. Taylor completed just 4 of 10 passes but with the two touchdowns, and Joseph Massey led all rushers with 108 yards on six carries, including a 36-yard TD jaunt that put the Grey Wolves up 25-7 in the second quarter.
Shoemaker’s other first-half TDs came on a 17-yard run by Corey Wilson and a returned blocked punt. Desmond Jefferson batted down the punt at the Rudder 2-yard line, and Tarik Spinls picked it up and ran it in to give the Wolves a quick 18-0 first-quarter lead.
Rudder had a solid start. The Rangers stopped Shoemaker on downs then drove to the Wolves’ 9 thanks primarily to a Brady Batten 22-yard pass to Jamall Collins. The Wolves got a sack by 6-foot-3, 235-pound senior Kerry Walker, and the Rangers attempted a 33-yard field goal that missed just wide.
“We came out the first series and looked pretty sharp offensively,” Compton said. “Then we kind of stalled out, and [Shoemaker] made some great plays. We’ve got to be more consistent. We did some good things. They just did more good things than we did.”
The Rangers got on the board on a drive that took up the latter part of the first quarter and the first minute of the second. Batten passed to sophomore Eric Peterson, who juked by a few defenders for 23 yards, and two plays later Batten found Collins over the middle for 26 yards. Collins took a big hit on the play but hung onto the ball, setting up Spencer Choka’s 3-yard TD run on his only carry as he spent most of his night at linebacker.
“Jamall Collins’ catch leading up to Spencer Choka’s touchdown was amazing,” Compton said. “He took a shot on that one.”
Desmond Brown showed off his speed for the Wolves early in the second half, intercepting a Rudder pass and running it back 45 yards to put Shoemaker up 38-7.
Rudder sophomore DeMarcus Dates returned the favor minutes later, jumping a route on a fourth-and-3 from the Rangers’ 7 and sprinting down the sideline with Taylor in tow for an 89-yard interception return for a touchdown.
Courtesy of the Bryan-College Station Eagle