VENUS – A young football team figuring out how to win doesn’t necessarily learn all of its lessons in one game.
That may have been evident as the Glen Rose Tigers posted their second straight victory of the season last Friday, 44-32, over the Venus Bulldogs in their District 4-4A, Division II opener on the road.
The Tigers, who have six sophomores and one freshman in starting positions, raced to a 38-0 halftime lead and saw the Bulldogs outscored them 32-6 in the final two quarters.
“Being a young team, I don’t know if we lost our focus a little bit,” said first-year Glen Rose head coach Cliff Watkins, whose team is 2-4 overall and 1-0 in district.
The Tigers were coming off an open week, following their first win of the season, a 48-7 non-district decision Sept. 30 at Lake Worth.
In his return after being out with an injury, Glen Rose running back Westen Halcom scored three touchdowns. Teammate Ethan Hartman ran for two TDs and threw for another from his quarterback spot, and had a game-high 163 yards rushing (9.1 yards per carry).
The Tigers will finally be home again Friday (7:30 p.m. kickoff), for the first time in more than a month. They will take on winless Benbrook Bobcats, who slipped to 0-6 with their 43-34 loss to Waxahachie Life. For those who can’t get out, Glen Rose’s football games can be heard on the radio starting with a 7:15 pregame show on KOME, 95.3 FM.
Watkins liked what he saw in the first half against Venus.
“We were able to come out and start fast,” Watkins said. “We had a lot of energy and a lot of excitement. There were a lot of things going our way.”
Watkins said the second-half Venus rally was aided by two key Tiger turnovers and two drive-killing penalties. The Tigers were shut out in the third quarter, and added their final six points with 7 and a half minutes left in the fourth quarter when they held a 44-12 grip.
“They did some good things, but I think it was more on us than it was them playing that much better,” Watkins said. “We didn’t feel as good at the end of the game as we did at halftime.”
That was a needed lesson learned for the young squad.
“I told our kids they’ve got to keep their heads up because they’rew 1-0 in district,” Watkins said. “They’ve got to learn from that mistake and finish the game. When you have somebody down, we can’t drop our level of play and let them back in the game.”
The first half had been an impressive display of execution for the Tigers.
“It was definitely the best half of football we’ve played,” Watkins said. “Now we’ve got to build on that and put together four quarters. It was a big win for us because we were able to be 1-0 to start district.”
The Tigers recorded a season-high 247 yards rushing against the Bulldogs, while Hartman passed for 240 yards and completed 17 of 29 passes with no interceptions. Torres caught six of his passes for 69 yards.
“I thought our offensive line played pretty well,” Watkins said. “Our running game was the best it’s been this year. Venus threw a bunch of fronts at us and our offensive line did a good job of opening holes for our backs.”
Glen Rose grabbed a 17-0 edge in the opening quarter on a 1-yard scoring run by Halcom, a 15-yard TD pass from Hartman to Tyler Torres, and a field goal by Yuri White.
In the second quarter, Hartman had TD runs of 2 and 1 yards, followed by a 2-yard scoring run by Halcom.
Halcom’s 4-yard TD run was the lone second-half score for the Tigers.
Defensive leaders for Glen Rose were Tanner Stroud with a team-high nine tackles, one pass breakup and one quarterback hurry, along with Connor Hansen with seven tackles and Kully Reynolds with six.
Looking ahead to Friday’s matchup against Benbrook, the Bobcats’ offense is led by sophomore running back Quintan Jackson. He has gained 881 yards rushing for an average of 147 yards per game, and has 11 TDs.
Watkins said that the Bobcats are playing varsity football for the first time this season, after going through a junior varsity schedule. He said they’ve had a bit of a learning curve in their winless season to this point, but they are scary because “you see their improvement on film” week by week.