BANGS, Texas — The 2023 season has started out strangely similar for the Bangs Dragons, as it has mirrored their 2022 season through the initial three weeks of the season.
The Dragons lost their first two games of the season last year - against the Early Longhorns and the Comanche Indians. In both contests, the Dragons were defeated from pillar to post. Yet, they began to hit the ground running, winning seven of their final 10 games, starting with their first win of the season against Grape Creek in Week Three.
Fast forward to 2023, Bangs dropped their initial contests against both the Longhorns and the Indians, and now enter Week Four after a 42-6 win over none other than the Grape Creek Eagles.
This 2023 team is almost an exact replication of the squad we saw last year, but to third-year starting quarterback Kenny Cole, the difference lies in his teammates' ability to step up when needed.
"We had been kind of struggling over the past two weeks. Then (Ethan) Ethridge stepped up and had a great game last week, which was pretty good," Cole said.
Ethan Ethridge is deserving of the praise in the eyes of his quarterback, but Ethridge himself, credits head coach Jason Cole for this newly-found camaraderie between his teammates.
"It was our coach, Coach (Jason) Cole, he was pushing us to be like that, (to) come closer. (He said) Always make sure to do our job and always be on the same page for anything. So I thank him and everything for that," Ethridge said.
The new energy and focus shared by teammates and the players' ability to fill in when needed is what has given this team confidence as they enter Week Four. Their matchup against the Merkel Badgers is one national outlets assume the Dragons should not have trouble dealing with.
For wide receiver Hunter Newton, the feelings of victory and the dread of defeat have fueled this team to take every challenge seriously.
"Our ability to bounce back says a really big thing about us. We have been wanting to win games, we played Comanche and they were pretty good. So I think winning after losing has given us a really big confidence boost," Newton said.
The Bangs Dragons will host the Merkel Badgers at 7 p.m. Friday at Bangs High School.
Coverage of this 2A Division-I battle will be on FOX Football Live after the game.