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Hallettsville, Yoakum square off in backyard battle

By BY ALBERT ALVARADO - AALVARADO@VICAD.COM
Sept. 9, 2011 at 4:09 a.m.

Yoakum Bulldogs coach Bobby Nicholson holds up the next play as players look on during the team's practice in Yoakum on Wednesday. KASSANDRA LAU/KLAU@VICAD.COM

Defense hasn't been the problem for Yoakum this season.

The Bulldogs have been stingy and opportunistic in their games against Columbus and La Grange.

"We've all been flying to the ball," said Jeff Harrison, who plays in the secondary on defense. "It's 11 hats on the ball, like some bees or wasps."

The Bulldogs have forced six turnovers - five fumbles and an interception - through the first two games of the season, using that advantage to defeat Columbus and hang tough with La Grange.

But the offense is another matter. Yoakum (1-1) enters its Week 2 game at neighboring Hallettsville (0-2) having scored just 19 points this season and coming off of a 6-0 loss to La Grange last week.

Yoakum coach Brent Kornegay said his team has a faster and more aggressive defense compared to last year.

A year ago, the Bulldogs gave up more than 29 points per game, while they have been much tougher thus far this season.

The Yoakum defense should get a test Friday when they travel to Hallettsville's Brahma Memorial Stadium.

Hallettsville had no shortage of offense in its first two games against Ganado and Refugio, teams ranked at or near the top of their classification in the state.

Hallettsville came away with a 20-14 win at Yoakum last season.

Yoakum's players are promising a better performance this season.

"They played tough against us and I think we blew off the game," said Yoakum junior Brice Lauer. "I know that isn't going to happen this year."

Hallettsville mustered just seven points against now-top-ranked Ganado during Zero Week, but found a groove against Refugio.

The Brahmas racked up 339 yards of total offense against Refugio in a 64-21 loss.

"Had we done a little bit better and taken care of the ball, it could have been a little bit of a different game," said Hallettsville coach Tommy Psencik.

But the Brahmas were able to take something positive from the game.

Tedrick Smith carried 20 times for 158 yards and two touchdowns, including one break-away sprint for 64 yards in the fourth quarter.

Against Yoakum, the Brahmas are likely to throw the ball.

Quarterback Braden Kahanek will look for receivers Trevor McGee and Dalton Herrington.

McGee hopes the Brahmas can take advantage of their size advantage.

"They shouldn't be able to match up with us on the outside," McGee said.

Kornegay said the Bulldogs recognize Hallettsville's ability to move the ball via the pass or the run.

Herrington is averaging more than 13 yards per catch.

Smith's performance against Refugio shot him up among the District 14-2A, Division I rushing leaders.

"I know that Trevor's a good wide receiver, but they've got some other weapons too," Kornegay said. "So we've got to control all that."

Yoakum has done an excellent job forcing turnovers this season, and turnovers have hurt the Brahmas. They haven't managed any takeaways, while turning the ball over six times, including three interceptions against Refugio.

The Brahmas can't continue putting themselves in bad positions.

"You can't win the game unless you have the ball," said linebacker and running back Ryan Renken. "As long as we keep the ball and keep it moving I think we can be great."

Added McGee: "I think we're definitely in playoff contention if we cut down on the turnovers."

In Yoakum's season-opening win against Columbus, the Bulldogs took advantage of three takeaways to win 19-16.

But Yoakum's offense had only four first downs against La Grange.

The Yoakum offense has struggled, but the same has been true for the Hallettsville defense.

The Brahmas have allowed an average of 432 yards per game, although that was against two of the best teams in the state.

Hallettsville has given up 589 yards and five touchdowns rushing.

"We'll do well with the running game," said Hallettsville's Marshall Hajek.

The two teams are no longer in the same classification, but they are only 18 miles apart, so bragging rights will be on the line.

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