A 17 man strong Senior Class was an integral part of the upset over Jim Ned last season. Combined with some last minute heroics from Carter Arrott, who was mostly an unknown entity outside of Ballinger, entering the game in relief of an injured Tyler Vaughn. This year those Seniors are off to college and the workforce , no longer there to help out the young Bearcats. The result was a 42-7 defeat at the hands of the Indians. The game was best described by Coach Chuck Lipsey as, “Growing pains”
The score looks bad until you realize it probably could have been worse. Ballinger had so many things working against it going into this game. Jim Ned coming for revenge on the only blemish in an otherwise perfect season. Ballinger graduated 17 seniors while Jim Ned graduated only a handful, bringing back all their most potent weapons. Jim Ned made the state championship last season while Ballinger was kicked in the 2nd round to Spearman. At an average of four practices a week all of Jim Ned’s returning players had 16 extra practices over the remaining four weeks of playoffs. Due to the abnormally large Senior class Ballinger had just one Sophomore and one Freshman on Varsity last season, meaning all those Juniors that are now upperclassman had to open the Varsity careers against the State Champions from Tuscola.
Ballinger’s young defense did not have an answer for Xavier Wishert, who kicked off what will likely be an All-State season in exciting fashion as he ran for 220 yards. Do not be suprised if Wishert gets some D1 college offers this year. He has a tremendous mix of size, speed and tenacity that is hard to find in 3A football.
On the positive side for Ballinger it looks like Blake Collom is developing into a real weapon for Ballinger on offense with 4 catches and 102 yards against a very stout Jim Ned defense. Carter Arrott had a 60% completion rate also, which is a good development as accuracy was a big problem last season when he averaged close to 50%.
Ballinger travels to Breckenridge on Friday September 3rd against a Breckenridge team looking to rebound from a poor 2-8 record last season. They started off on the right foot with a 49-28 win over Jacksboro who beat them 13-0 last season, as did Ballinger. The Ballinger defense needs to grow up in a hurry, while the offense needs to find some more weapons to help out Arrott. Week 2 of non-district should go a long way to answering the questions that the coaching staff has.
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