By Connor Mullins
The Eagles are now 0-3 this season with Eagles first year Head Coach Mike Fullen still seeking his first win. The Eagles will play a team they beat 13-0 last year at Shotwell in their final non-district game this Friday.
The Midland High Bulldogs have had a fair start to their season with a current record of 1-2. The Bulldogs lost their first game to Randall on the road 35-16, but won the next week in their home opener against Pebble Hills in a close game 43-42. The Bulldogs played on the road against Franklin last week and lost 55-21.
The Eagles defense has been productive in the first 3 games only allowing an average of 26 points per game. The Eagles defense already have 6 sacks this season mainly due to senior defensive lineman Dylan Wright causing 3 quarterback hurries and leading the team in sacks with 2. Wright and the Eagles defense have caused 11 quarterback hurries, with Wright leading the team in this category. The Eagles defense is also averaging 70.3 tackles per game which is higher than the national average according to Maxpreps.com. Fullen has worked to prepare his defense, but the offense has been inconsistent in their first three games.
Another strength the Eagles have had so far this season has been junior running back Phonzo Dotson. Dotson is currently second in district for most rushing yards with 313 yards for an average of 104.3 per game. However, Dotson was injured last Friday against Cooper and missed the entire second half. Dotson will miss this week’s game according to the the assistant coaches and is listed as week-to-week.
The Eagles quarterback battle between senior Eric Abbe and junior Matthew Ezzell has been competitive in the first three weeks with Abbe starting all three, but getting pulled out early. Ezzell came in during the first quarter against Cooper last Friday and finished the game with 161 passing yards with a touchdown and a rushing touchdown. Abbe finished the game with 19 yards and no touchdowns. So far this season, Ezzell has a QB rating of 122.8 , according to Maxpreps, while Abbe has a QB rating of 32.5.
The Bulldogs running game has been their greatest strength so far this season having 732 yards and 10 touchdowns. Bulldogs junior running back Daniel Garcia has amounted for 501 of those 732 yards and half of their rushing touchdowns with 5. Bulldogs sophomore backup quarterback Jordan Springer has amounted for 105 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns so far this season. Bulldogs junior backup running back Ridwanullah Abdurrazaq has 105 rushing yards and no touchdowns on the year.
The Eagles, working to overcome missed tackles so far this season, and they could struggle again this Friday against the Bulldogs’ stout running game. The Eagles defense had 16 missed tackles last week against Cooper but had 54 missed tackles in their first week against Tascosa. Eagles senior outside linebacker Jorge Hernandez leads the team in tackles with 34 so far.
“We just have to be more consistent on offense,” QB Matthew Ezzell said. The Eagles punted 4 times to start against Cooper last week. Ezzell wants to be more consistent for his team and we could see this from him against a Bulldogs defense that’s allowed an average of 44 points against their opponents this season.
“We just have to work on offensive assignments,” senior offensive lineman Khalil Spivey said. “That’s all we can control. All of our plans [for this season] are still ahead of us.”
Eagles plan to focus on their own game in preparation for Friday.
“They have some really good young positional players,” Assistant Coach Tommy Martinez said. “But we’re more worried about us right now.”
The Eagles offense has only had 7 touchdowns this season compared to the Bulldogs 11.
Winning this Friday would be a big boost for the Eagles going into district play against Richland (0-3) next week. The Eagles offense could thrive against a defense that’s allowed 44 points per game this season, but inconsistency could cost the Eagles another non-district loss. If Hernandez and the Eagles defense makes 16 tackles instead of missing them, it could be a big game for an unproven Eagles team.