If Friday night was an accurate indication of Venus football, the Glen Rose Tigers showed why the Bulldogs are in the cellar of their respective district each year.
“Venus is a program that is playing a lot of young players,” said Glen Rose head coach Tommy Dunn. “Their own coach admitted they are basically playing JV players. And when you can jump out on a young team early like we did, it can really knock the wind out of them.
“But that program is headed in the right direction,” added Dunn. “They have a good coaching staff.”
The Tigers (3-3, 1-0) wasted no time putting Venus (0-6, 0-1) in their rearview mirror, cruising to a 52-7 win to open District 8-3A play.
“We knew we had to come out and take shots early in the game,” said Dunn.”We were able to make something happen and it was a major setback for them.”
After Colton Allen jumped on an onside kick attempt to open the game, Frank Brandenburg launched a 54-yard touchdown bomb to Kevin Brooks on the first play from scrimmage. The Tanner Tongate extra point made it 7-0 after just 11 seconds.
“That first play went exactly as it should have gone,” said Dunn. “Frank threw a great ball, the offensive line blocked really well and Kevin caught it in stride. I couldn’t ask for better execution.
“We did pretty much whatever we wanted to do on offense all night,” added Dunn.
The Tiger defense bent but didn’t break on the first drive for the Bulldogs.
Venus responded with a 41-yard, five-minute drive before turning the ball over on downs. It proved to be the Bulldogs’ second-longest possession of the night.
“Except for a couple drives, the defense was in control and played well,” said Dunn. “Our defense continues to just get better and better.”
Brandenburg and the offense appeared stalled when they faced 4th-and-15 on their next possession, but the Tiger QB found Brooks for a 28 yards and a new set of downs.
Three plays later, Brandenburg eluded a tackler - and an uncalled facemask penalty - and found Justin Weatherley on the end of a nine-yard touchdown toss. Tongate’s kick made it 14-0 with 5:08 left in the first quarter.
Following a Venus punt, Brandenburg threw his third touchdown to his third different receiver.
Anders Dahl hauled in the 24-yard score in his first action since suffering an injury against Gatesville. The Tongate kick made it 21-0 with 2:40 left in the opening quarter.
Glen Rose forced another punt just a minute later, and Brandenburg hit Brooks for an eight-yard score to make it 28-0 with 37 seconds still showing on the first quarter clock.
Just four plays into the new quarter, Dahl picked off a Venus pass to set the Tigers up at the Bulldogs’ 33-yard line.
Glen Rose appeared content to run the clock down, but penalties set up a 3rd-and-22 from the Venus 47.
Brandenburg hit Brooks on a screen pass to the middle of the field and the senior receiver ran 53 yards - untouched - to the house. Tongate made his fifth straight PAT and it was 35-0.
Brooks hurt the Bulldogs on special teams by returning the next Venus punt back to the Bulldogs’ 16-yard line.
The return set up a 16-yard scoring run by Jesus Aguilar.
Aguilar replaced Chase Evatt, who didn’t touch the ball on the Tigers’ nine carries to this point.
“Chase is still nursing that ankle injury,’ said Dunn. “We let him start the game (on a pass play) but after that we said we weren’t going to play him unless we needed him. Now he can go into Kennedale at 100 percent.”
Just before halftime, the Tiger offense failed to reach the end zone for the first time on the night. Instead they settled for a 30-yard field goal from Tongate for a 45-0 halftime lead.
The Tigers struck for the final time on their first possession of the second half when Cody Burtscher broke a 22-yard run through the middle of the Venus defense for a touchdown. Tongate hit his final PAT of the night for a 52-0 lead with 8:38 left in the third quarter.
Venus scored a garbage-time touchdown in the fourth quarter.
“It was a good overall win for us,” said Dunn. “We’ve played a couple teams back-to-back that haven’t been as much competition as we would have liked, but now we have our chance to see where we are as a team when we play Kennedale on Friday.”
Brandenburg went 7-13 through the air for 190 yards and five touchdowns and no interceptions.
Brooks was the high-yardage receiver with 143 yards on four catches including three scores. Weatherley caught two passes for 23 yards and a score and Dahl had the 24-yard TD catch.
Only two of Brandenburg’s completed passes didn’t result in a touchdown.
“That’s pretty efficient,” commented Dunn.
Glen Rose’s rushing attack was led by Thomas Simpson, Burtscher and Aguilar.
Simpson and Burtscher led the way with 54 yards each on 11 and five carries, respectively. Aguilar had 44 yards on four carries.
For the fifth consecutive game, Colin Lane was the leading tackler with nine, five for a loss, and a sack.
Curran Morrison and Jimmy Johnson were next on the Tiger defense with eight tackles while several Tigers - Allen, Blake Eschbach, Jack Hughes, Curry Mapes and Tongate - each had six tackles.
The Tiger defense forced two turnovers on interceptions by Dahl and Austin Briley.
Venus managed only 172 total yards with 97 coming on the ground and 75 through the air on 5-15 passing.
Glen Rose returns to action Friday in Kennedale, who was just outside of the Associated Press Top 10 with 11 votes before a 35-34 loss to Alvarado Friday.
“It’s a huge game,” said Dunn. “They’ve got their backs against the wall because they lost to Alvarado (35-34), so they’re 0-1 in district right now. They need a win just as much as we do.”
The Wildcats are led in rushing by Tony Sabado with 720 yards and Bo Burgess with 531 yards. QB Stephen Rivera has rushed for just under 270 yards.
Rivera had completed just six of his 21 pass attempts through the first five games of this season.
“They like to run the football,” said Dunn. “They’ve got speed all over the field. They have two good backs in Sabado and Burgess. Burgess is the real deal. He has around 500 yards on 40-something carries and he’s missed three games. He’s a great hurdler and a good athlete so he’ll be a challenge for us.
“We’re going to have to keep them from getting to the edges,” added Dunn. “It’s going to be up to our defensive ends, outside linebackers and corners to keep those guys contained.”
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Wildcat Stadium in Kennedale. The address to the stadium is 699 Tree Point Road, Kennedale, TX 76060.