The Altus Bulldogs pounded the Duncan Demons Friday night with a score of 21-9. This moves their record to 8-1 on the year.
Weather conditions were a sloppy mess on the field, but the Bulldogs did their best to minimize turnovers and penalties. The defense was the star of this game as Duncan managed just one touchdown for the game.
Jayden Benway started the Altus scoring in the first quarter with a 71-yard pick six interception. Benway’s interception pulls him within three for the AHS career record. The conversion was good and Altus was up 7-3.
Both teams traded punts for a couple of possessions before Taven Birdow found some space to grind in the Bulldogs second score. The conversion was good by Gabe Barton, and the Bulldogs were up 14-3.
Altus had the final possession before half but elected to try a halfback pass instead of sending Barton out for what would have been a 50+ yard field goal attempt. The play was defended by Duncan and the clock ran out on the first half.
Field conditions continued to deteriorate throughout the half time.
With a heavy mist in the air, Bulldogs’ managers and ball boys stayed alert with towels in a constant battle to keep the footballs dry enough to keep a grip on them. Both teams again traded punts for most of the third quarter before Birdow got loose again and scooted 46 yards for his second score of the night. Barton tacked on the extra point and the Bulldogs commanded a 21-3 lead.
An unsportsmanlike personal foul penalty was called on Duncan during the extra point attempt. That penalty assessed on the kickoff meant that Barton would tee up the ball at midfield. This is an opportune time to try to get possession back with an on-sides attempt.
Coach Reed elected to try an on-sides kick, but Duncan recovered the kick. With a shortened field to work with, Duncan managed to work its way to the end zone for their only touchdown of the night.
The Bulldogs took possession and continued their ground assault on Duncan.
Benway again showed the value of having an experienced senior leader at the quarterback position. This flexbone attack is especially reliant on a smart leader – taking the snaps and making the proper reads so the football ends up in the best possible Bulldog on each particular play.
For the game, Taven Birdow was once again saddled with the role of the Bulldog’s workhorse. Birdow’s numbers,, although unofficial at the time of this article, are impressive from several angles. He carried the ball 46 times for 315 yards and two touchdowns.
Birdow consistently plowed his way over Duncan tacklers and chewed up 5, 7, 10, 15 yards on several carries. He looked like he was going to break one all night. He eventually did busting a 46-yard touchdown burst.
The Bulldogs sustained drives all night and dominated the time of possession for the game. Consistently moving the chains all night eliminated several chances for the Demons while allowing the Bulldogs defense some much needed rest.
This game was another showcase of the Bulldogs coaching staff’s ability to not only prepare a team and scheme for a game, but also the adjustments in-game are also impressive. After several losing seasons in a row for the Bulldogs, the win over Duncan means the Bulldogs are a wonderful 16-4 over these last two seasons.
That is a winning percentage of .800. As impressive as that is, consider the entire Altus schools football program in 2015.
Combining the records for the 7th, 8th 9th, junior varsity and varsity gives us a total of 37 wins and only 7 losses. Some say the winning is contagious. If that is true, this entire town is infected.
Congratulations Bulldogs! You have restored the program’s swagger to the point that we revel in our new relevance. The 5A conversation has us on the state’s collective tongue.
This entire Bulldogs program is impressive and deserves so much credit. Next week is perhaps the most emotional game these Bulldogs will play all year.
Even though this bunch has guaranteed us a home playoff game in two weeks, next Friday’s regular season final game against Northwest means we celebrate that game as senior night.
Last years’s bunch was special. There is no denying that. However, it is this 2015-2016 group that has fully restored our love and passion for the game and fun Friday nights under The Rock’s lights.
As I speak to people in the community throughout the year, it doesn’t take long at all before the conversation becomes Bulldog football. You know a town is bit by the school spirit bug when those talks dig deeper into the program. I hear people’s curiosities of the athletes coming up from the lower grades.
Looking at the 7th, 8th and 9th grades’ athletes, the Bulldogs not only have speed coming up but a steady stream of size that frankly is unprecedented in my memories of Altus football. Sure, ever so often a class comes through with some big boys in it. However, after seeing the city league undefeated Dawgs play on Thursday. The Bulldogs also have some massive athletes coming up from elementary. They had two tackles that look like grown men. Anyone notice the gigantic person pulling the Bulldog around the field after scores Friday night? You know the one that was bigger than all the adults that he stood next to. That is huge Hunter Webb. He is an 8th grader.
It’s exciting to see the realization of this much-needed change that coach Reed and his staff have brought about in Altus. It’s exciting to see the development of these young student athletes into young adults.
The goals set by this team at the first of the year are now staring them right in the face mask. It is all in front of them.
Therefore, it’s back to work for this bunch. They are not even close to being done with this season. This team is clicking at just the right time.
Sha’Quan French (3) battles the Duncan defense as Gant Duncan (6) looks for a block.
Reach Brad Gilbert@482-1221 ext. 2076