By Connor Mullins
The Abilene High Eagles, 2-4 overall, 1-1 in district, takes on the San Angelo Central Bobcats, 3-3 overall, 1-1 in district, in their biggest district game of the season this Friday at 7 at San Angelo Stadium.
“I expect good competition,” Eagles head coach Michael Fullen said. “I mean it’s a big game, it’ll be a fun place to play. It’s a big district game and our guys are always gonna fight hard.”
Central runs a spread offense which is effective when run properly. With 1487 passing yards, Central quarterback Malachi Brown places second in district in passing yards. Brown’s 16 passing touchdowns earn him another second place spot in district, but Brown does most of his work on the ground boasting 505 rushing yards and nine touchdowns, with two games over 100 yards rushing.
“He’s a good player,” Fullen said. “A lot of his throws are quick-gain to his receivers and don’t go for a lot of yards. He’s not one to sit back there and pick you apart. If he gets rid of the ball, his receivers will do the work for him.”
To put things in perspective, Eagles quarterbacks Eric Abbe and Matthew Ezzell, totaling 852 passing yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions, will have to work to keep up.
“We have to stay consistent,” Fullen said of the offense. “We have to take care of the football and establish a run game to help open up our passing game. We have to get points every chance we get and we can’t put the defense in a mind about our offense and score.”
Central and Abilene High have a dated rivalry going all the way back to 1910, however, last year the Bobcats beat the Eagles 17-15 after a late field goal with under a minute left in the fourth quarter.
“They are a very good team,” Fullen said. “They’re very well coached. It’s the same every year. They’re a lot like we are as far as their kids and our kids. They’re very similar players. They play extremely hard, they spread around offensively, their quarterback is good and well-coached, their defense is well-coached. They’re a good solid football team.”
The Eagles special teams and defense played well against the L.D. Bell Blue Raiders, and want to build off an impressive performance against the Bobcats this Friday.
“We have to build off that performance and use the momentum we’ve created,” Fullen said of the special teams and defense. “It’s a different animal to play some team with no triple option, they play a spread offense. We’ll have a good defense, it’s just a matter of will you adjust week-to-week.”
Last week the L.D. Bell Blue Raiders triple option offense was inefficient against the Eagles defense with their offense only gaining 160 yards of total offense and throwing two interceptions. Central’s spread offense could be a problem for the Eagles defense. However, Coach Fullen has studied the Bobcats offense well.
“They play a spread,” Fullen said. “A lot of quick-gain throws. They’ll run the ball, have quarterback draws and leads, they’ll zone with running backs, throw quick screens, do bootlegs sometimes, and they’ll take some shots downfield if they need to.”
The Eagles have momentum coming off a win, and want to beat their second biggest rival after Abilene Cooper this Friday in San Angelo.
“We have to win,” Fullen said. “We gotta beat Central.”