By Connor Mullins
The Abilene High Eagles take on the Haltom Buffaloes this Friday at Shotwell Stadium at 7:30. The Eagles, coming off a 35-13 loss to the San Angelo Central Bobcats, will face the Haltom Buffaloes who just knocked off the 24th ranked 6A team in Euless Trinity, 23-20.
“They’re a good solid football team with good athletes at the skill positions,” Eagles head coach Michael Fullen said. “They play extremely hard defense and are coming off a big win against Trinity.”
The Trojan-Buffaloes upset has given the Eagles a little more breathing room in District 3-6A.
“This is a huge game, I mean with what happened last week with Haltom beating Trinity and L.D. Bell beating Richland, it’s mixed up everything into our favor,” Fullen said. “We just gotta play well at home.”
The Eagles defense struggled to stop a good Central offense allowing Bobcats quarterback Malachi Brown to gain 321 passing yards and 52 rushing yards with a total of four touchdowns.
“We gotta tackle better this week,” Fullen said. “Our offense has to go 18 play drives and score on every opportunity.”
Boasting 1135 passing yards with seven touchdowns and no interceptions, Haltom quarterback Adam Hill is third in District 3-6A in passing yards. Hill also has 433 rushing yards with seven touchdowns, placing him fifth in District 3-6A in rushing yards.
“He’s not the passer we’re used to facing,” Fullen said. “I mean, he can throw the ball but he’s probably a better runner, so we gotta tackle well. Tackling will be a big deal this week because their guys are big.”
Despite losing last week against the Bobcats, the Eagles still have a good chance of making the playoffs if they either win all of their remaining games or win two of their last three against Haltom, Weatherford, and Trinity.
“Our chances will be good if we win (against Haltom),”
Fullen said of the team’s chances of making the playoffs. “If we win out, we’ll get in, but if we just win two of the next three we got a really good shot. You know even with that it’s obviously gonna be Trinity and Central, who have already played the tougher teams, making the playoffs record-wise. Those four playoff spots are still up in the air.”
The special teams unit for the Eagles could continue to perform well against the Buffaloes with the Eagles gaining a blocked punt and recovered extra point fumble in the past two games against L.D. Bell and San Angelo Central.
“I hope they continue to play well,” Fullen said. “We work really hard on it. Those are huge unforeseen points that you can get and a lot of times that’s a part of the game that people don’t pay attention to that are huge difference makers.”
Fullen has done his research on the Buffaloes and knows what to expect from their team on Friday night.
“I expect a heavy run game,” Fullen said. “I also expect them to run some play-action. They don’t tend to throw the ball a whole lot and when they do they’re not bad at it because they have some big and athletic receivers. They’re a tough ball club.”
The Eagles plan to improve their execution ahead of this week’s game and look to get back on track in district.
“We’ve been working on execution in practice,” Fullen said. “I mean the plans are good but the bottom line is execution and that’s just football 101. When we can execute and be consistent, we’re a really good football team.”
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