By BILL PETERSON
Editor at Large
KYLE – The Lehman Lobos approach their Thursday night football game against Reagan on two big waves.
First, they won their opener at Riesel last Friday night, 43-28, scoring almost as many points as they managed all last season (47), while also rolling up 466 offensive yards.
In some respects, though, the larger victory came Monday. Out of the entire Lehman football program, only one varsity player missed practice on Labor Day, an indication that the players and their families are starting to understand that high school football in Texas does not take that day off. Last year, 16 of 72 Lehman football players across all levels declined to report for practice on Labor Day.
“That’s one of the things that shows we have better team unity, better commitment,” said Lehman Head Coach Steve Davis. “Maybe the kids are learning.”
The kids may be learning a lot, and they’ve still got much to learn. The good news from the opener was a running attack good for 366 yards, including 175 yards in 15 carries for R.J. Hardaway. The bad news was nearly 200 yards in penalties. Though Lehman always had the Riesel game under control, the Class 4A Lobos struggled to put away a Class 1A opponent because of their miscues.
However, the game was never in much doubt, as Lehman took a 21-6 halftime lead. Quarterback Chris Duran completed seven of 15 passes for 130 yards, Caleb Frank and Elvin Kahaloa each made seven tackles and John Martell made four unassisted tackles.
So, the Lobos are 1-0 after the first night in their three-year history on which they won and cross-district rival Hays lost. Now, they take a step up to House Park in downtown Austin, where they will play Reagan Thursday night.
Reagan is an experienced Class 4A team, returning 20 lettermen, including seven offensive starters and nine defensive starters, from last year’s team that finished 2-8. However, the Raiders still lost, 32-6, to Class 3A Taylor last week.
That doesn’t mean the Lobos will have it easy.
“They’re a traditional Reagan team,” Davis said. “We expect a lot of speed and blitzing a lot on defense trying to make you make mistakes on offense.”
The key for Lehman, Davis said, will be ball control. If the Lobos can counteract Reagan’s speed with a power running game, hang onto the ball and keep Reagan from the big play, the Lobos could go home Thursday night with a 2-0 record, already doubling their output from last year’s 1-9 performance.
“We need to cut down on penalties,” Davis added. “And we have to do better with out coverage in the kicking game.”
Clearly, the Lobos have a lot to learn as they approach their second game of the season. However, judging from their opening win and their turnout for Labor Day practice, they’ve also learned a lot.