VERNON – Coming out of the locker room at the conclusion of halftime Friday night, Bangs Dragons third-year head coach Kyle Maxfield said of the No. 1-ranked Canadian Wildcats, “I didn’t think they could be better than last year.”
After falling to Canadian, 66-21, in the first round of playoffs a year ago, the Dragons again had their season come to an end at the hands of the Wildcats, 56-13, in Region I-3A Division II area playoff action.
“We’ve come a long way since last year, but they just strike so fast on offense,” Maxfield said. “Even after seeing it last year in person, they started the game again in NASCAR mode on offense and got us on our heels and we just didn’t recover. We could have spit the bit at halftime, but we played with pride. Canadian is No. 1 for a reason, but we definitely closed the gap on them even if it doesn’t show on the scoreboard. That’s a credit to our kids and what they’ve done this past year.”
Canadian (11-1) raced out to 28-0 lead before the first period ended and carried a 49-6 advantage into the locker room at halftime.
The Wildcats finished with 583 yards of total offense – 389 passing and 194 rushing – with most of that damage done in the first two quarters. At intermission, Canadian had racked up 487 total yards.
Quarterback Josh Culwell completed 23 of 30 passes for 381 yards with six touchdowns. Reagan Cochran led the Wildcats with five catches for 93 yards and two touchdowns, Twister Kelton hauled in four receptions for 139 yards and scored twice, and Jake Krehbiel tacked on four grabs for 77 yards with two trips to the end zone.
On the ground, Hayze Hufstedler rushed for a team-best 86 yards and scored once.
The Bangs defense entered the game allowing just 12 points and 225 yards per contest.
“Our secondary has been getting better but they took advantage of some things,” Maxfield said. “We knew we had to stop the run first, and even though they had a lot of rushing yards we were there to make tackles, we just didn’t make plays. To get them in the passing game was one of our goals, but we thought we’d play the pass a little stronger.”
On the offensive end, the Dragons were limited to 289 total yards – 189 through the air and 100 on the ground. Prior to Friday’s outing, Bangs had produced 44 points and 465 yards per game on average.
Ethan Sanchez, coming off his Mr. Texas Football performance of 440 rushing yards and seven touchdowns in Bangs’ last on-the-field outing against Brady, was limited to 40 yards on the ground by Canadian. Guy Powell and quarterback Ethan Cortez tacked on 31 yards rushing apiece.
Through the air, Cortez connected on just 6 of 20 passes but averaged 31.5 yards per completion, including two for touchdowns. Brayton Wedeman led the way with two catches for a team-high 74 yards and one score.
“We tried to do some things with motion and get them on their heels a little bit, but they just swarmed to the ball,” Maxfield said. “The biggest thing is we wanted to run some clock and keep their offense off the field, and when we weren’t able to do that it just kind of snowballed.”
Canadian’s four first-quarter touchdowns were the result Culwell passes of 77 and 41 yards to Kelton, an 11-yard scoring toss to Cochran, and a 9-yard run by Krehbiel.
Bangs put its only points of the first half on the board on the first snap of the second quarter as Cortez connected with Powell on a 50-yard scoring toss to complete a flea flicker.
The Wildcats then chalked up three more touchdowns before halftime on Culwell scoring tosses of 24 yards to Krehbiel and 39 yards to Cochran, along with a 6-yard Hufstedler carry.
With a running clock in the second half, Bangs scored on the second snap of the third quarter – a 35-yard strike from Cortez to Wedeman. Canadian answered with a six-play, 51-yard trek that ended with a 20-yard scoring toss from Culwell to Krehbiel at the 7:21 mark of the third period, which capped the scoring.
Bangs advanced to the Canadian 11 early in the fourth period, but was turned away by the Wildcat defense.
Counting the COVID cancellation with Hamilton as a victory, as well as last week’s bi-district forfeiture the same, Bangs finished with 10-2 overall record.
In reflecting on the campaign, Maxfield said, “It was a 10-win season for us, and any time you can have a 10-win season and get to the second round from where we’ve been, we’re still taking steps forward. I’m proud of our seniors and I told them after the game they put Bangs back on the map and I’m proud of what they were able to accomplish.”
Canadian advances to face Idalou (10-0), a 49-0 winner over Alpine Friday night.
Canadian 56, Bangs 13
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Canadian 28 21 7 0 – 56
Bangs 0 6 7 0 – 13
C: Reagan Cochran 11 pass from Josh Culwell (Edgar Salazar kick), 10:42, 1st
C: Twister Kelton 77 pass from Culwell (Edgar kick), 6:41, 1st
C: Jake Krehbiel 9 run (Edgar kick), 2:37, 1st
C: Kelton 41 pass from Culwell (Edgar kick), 0:15, 1st
B: Guy Powell 50 pass from Ethan Cortez (kick failed), 11:53, 2nd
C: Krehbiel 24 pass from Culwell (Edgar kick), 8:57, 2nd
C: Hayze Hufstedler 6 run (Edgar kick), 4:00, 2nd
C: Cochran 39 pass from Culwell (Edgar kick), 1:50, 2nd
B: Brayton Wedeman 35 pass from Cortez (Braxton Melling kick), 10:56, 3rd
C: Krehbiel 20 pass from Culwell (Edgar kick), 7:21, 3rd
First Downs 29 10
Total Offense 583 289
Rushes-Yards 26-194 27-100
Passing Yards 389 189
Comp-Att-Int 24-31-0 6-20-0
Punts 0-0.0 5-36.8
Fumbles Lost 0 0
Penalties-Yards 4-45 3-15
RUSHING: Canadian – Hayze Hufstedler 12-86, TD; Josh Culwell 1-26; Jake Krehbiel 3-22, TD; Isay Ramirez 4-18; Gary Anderson 1-16; Cree Waite 4-14; Landon Smith 1-12. Bangs – Ethan Sanchez 13-40; Ethan Cortez 8-31; Guy Powell 4-31; Damien Santillanes 2-(-2).
PASSING: Canadian – Culwell 23-30-0-381, 6 TDs; Waite 1-1-0-8; Bangs – Cortez 6-20-0-189, 2 TDs
RECEIVING: Canadian – Reagan Cochran 5-93, 2 TDs; Anderson 5-38; Twister Kelton 4-139, 2 TDs; Krehbiel 4-77, 2 TDs; Hufstedler 3-26; Luke Flowers 2-8; Jaxtyn Valenzuela 1-8. Bangs – Brayton Wedeman 2-74, TD; Trevor Bowers 2-30; Guy Powell 1-50, TD; Damien Santillanes 1-35.