Vernon a dangerous team despite 1-5 record
After nearly upsetting 10th-ranked Krum Friday night in Hawk Stadium, Iowa Park’s Mean Green must quickly turn its attention to their second District 3-4A game of this season tomorrow night in Vernon.
And despite having a 1-5 record this season, the Lions are a dangerous team.
The 56-54 loss to the Bobcats in three overtimes has cast the Hawks as a dangerous team themselves across the region. But, according to Head Hawk Aubrey Sims, his team has a tough task ahead of them in a tough district, starting with Vernon.
“It is all for nothing if we don’t take care of Vernon, and Bridgeport, and go to Graham and give them hell,” Sims said earlier this week. “If we don’t take care of us, and be ready to play Friday night ... I guarantee Vernon doesn’t care that we played Krum close.”
On the Lions’ 1-5 record, Sims laughed and said, “They should have beat Springtown. They should have beat Abilene Wylie. They should have beat Hirschi. They had Canadian down.
“Shoot, I guarantee you Vernon is sitting there thinking, if we could put four quarters together, we can beat anybody. And they are right. They are definitely good enough if they don’t turn the ball over or make stupid mistakes ... they can win games. Defensively they are tough.”
Sims also noted the long rivalry that has prompted close finishes between Iowa Park and Vernon in the past. “This is definitely a trap game, for us, if we aren’t mentally ready to play it. But I just think that, regardless of their record, Vernon is tough, and they are going to want revenge from last year (28-21 Hawk win) for sure.”
It should also be noted the Hawks went into Vernon in 2004 with a 7-0 record, and suffered their first loss, 24-21.
Coach Mark Bateman returns seven offensive and seven defensive starters from last year’s 3-7 (1-3) season, including Brent MCallum, one of the top runningbacks in the district in 2015 (1,450 yards and 16 TDs), backs Jordan Villalobos and Bryson Hall, and top linemen Donnell Kendricks and Preston Newman.
In the season opener against state-ranked Abilene Wylie, the Lions held a 9-0 lead going into the final quarter before the Bulldogs scored twice for a 15-9 win.
In the second week, a strong Altus team dominated the Lions 26-3.
Vernon then rebounded in week three with a 30-20 win over Burkburnett. The following week, the Lions trailed Hirschi 10-9 at halftime, and eventually lost 16-9.
In their fifth game, Vernon led Spingtown 17-7 after one quarter of play before falling 37-17.
And, before last week’s bye, the Lions held a 17-16 lead over Canadian at halftime before losing 37-17.
Asked how his players will respond this week, Sims said “It is part of our job to get them refocused and get them lined back up. It has been eight weeks without a break, and we are at the very end of it. We need a bye week, but we don’t have time to cry about it. We’ve got to man up.
“We are pretty beat up after that game (against Krum),” Sims continued. “That was a physical ballgame and they were huge. They beat us up pretty good.
“Vernon is a physical football team. They have had a week off to rest and get ready. They have a lot of things shifted in their favor. We can’t make mistakes like we did Friday night. They (Vernon) don’t give you the ball enough. I think we only had the ball three times in the second half last year.
“They are pretty good defensively. And offensively, that fullback (McCallum) is the real deal,” Sims noted. “What they do is tough. Their offensive line is tough. Defensively they get turnovers, and they are physical.”
Hawk defenders Trevor Boyd (shoulder) and Tyler Campbell (knee) are questionable for this week. Sims said he is making some moves from the JV squad to varsity this week. “And I need to find another linebacker,” to replace Campbell.
In other conference action Friday, Graham defeated Bridgeport 37-7.
This week, Bridgeport (0-1) travels to Krum (1-0), with Graham (1-0) enjoying a bye.