2010-09-17 / Sports

Time to get gritty

Badgers’ coach wants team to get ‘down and dirty’ tonight against Raiders following first loss of season
By CLAY WHITTINGTON
Staff Writer

Lampasas head coach Joey McQueen will split time between his quarterbacks beginning tonight against Leander Rouse. Colton Perkins will get the start, but junior Brandon Scott, seen making a run during last Friday’s game at Lorena, will get significant playing time. PHOTOS BY RICHARD AKRIDGE Lampasas head coach Joey McQueen will split time between his quarterbacks beginning tonight against Leander Rouse. Colton Perkins will get the start, but junior Brandon Scott, seen making a run during last Friday’s game at Lorena, will get significant playing time. PHOTOS BY RICHARD AKRIDGE Joey McQueen is up to his old tricks again.

In the past, McQueen has found ways to motivate his players by using a symbolic shovel to represent how it was time to “dig themselves out of a hole.”

Another time, he bought his coaches camouflage shirts in order to demonstrate that his players needed to be prepared to go to war with the opposition.

Upon accepting the head coaching job at Lampasas, the veteran coach made his players write down all their excuses for why the Badgers were riding a 20-game losing streak and throw them in a metal trashcan. Then he handed over a bat and let them bash the can -- and the excuses.

After scoring a touchdown on his only carry of the season last week, senior Javier Renteria should see an increased workload tonight as several Badger backs are nursing injuries. After scoring a touchdown on his only carry of the season last week, senior Javier Renteria should see an increased workload tonight as several Badger backs are nursing injuries. Halfway through the 2009 season, he began strapping an old Lampasas district-championship trophy to his back and wearing it at practice to entice his players with the season’s potential possibilities.

Earlier this week, following the Badgers’ five-turnover performance against Lorena in their first loss of the season last Friday, McQueen decided it was time to deliver another message.

This time, there was no shovel, but there was plenty of dirt.

McQueen placed a serving pan full of mud in front of his squad and asked one of his players to touch the wet mess.

With two fingers, the player gently poked at the mud.

“I said, ‘No man, that’s not going to do it,’ ” the coach recalled. “ ‘You’ve got to get your hands dirty if your are going to be a player.’ ”

Then McQueen called defensive coordinator Jimmy Randolph over and issued the same request.

Randolph shoved his hands into the mud and rubbed them together.

Then it was McQueen’s turn.

“I told them that coach Randolph set an example, but if you really want to be good and be a state champion, you’ve got to get down and dirty,” the coach said. “So I got the mud, and I rubbed it all over my head and my face.

“I was caked in mud, and it was all over the floor, but if you want to be good, you can’t worry about getting dirt under your fingernails.”

McQueen wore the mud all morning to emphasize his point.

Tonight, the coach will see if his tactic worked as the Badgers attempt to rebound from last week’s disappointing performance as they host Leander Rouse (0-3 overall).

On paper, it would appear the Raiders are the perfect bounce-back opponent.

Rouse is playing its first season of varsity football and has no seniors on its roster, but the Raiders are not the only team entering a new era.

McQueen announced this week he will begin splitting time with his quarterbacks. Senior Colton Perkins will continue to start, but junior Brandon Scott will definitely receive playing time.

“It’s not like we are trying to find out who our quarterback is,” the coach said. “We’re letting people know we have two good quarterbacks, and we’re going to give them both an opportunity to play.”

Scott received his first playing time of the season during last week’s loss at Lorena. Trailing 27-0, Scott engineered the Badgers’ only scoring drive of the game by leading the team 65 yards and accounted for 51 rushing yards before Javier Renteria recorded a five-yard touchdown.

While the Badgers’ offensive philosophy always revolves around running the ball and using long, timeconsuming drives to their advantage, the Raiders could play right into Lampasas’ hands.

In their first game of the season, Rouse played the Badgers’ district foe Liberty Hill and were annihilated by the Panthers’ ground attack.

Liberty Hill -- which runs a similar offense to Lampasas -- earned a 34- 14 victory by collecting 458 rushing yards on 56 attempts, as three players topped the 100-yard mark.

Although McQueen freely admits Liberty Hill is far superior to his team at running the slot-T, he believes he can still exploit the Raiders’ defense in a similar fashion.

“It makes you drool, because [Liberty Hill] had several runs of 70 or 80 yards,” McQueen said. “They got around 240 yards on three runs.

“Rouse made some plays, but Liberty Hill just mauled them, and that’s what we envision our system will look like [someday].”

Lampasas, however, will be without running back Julian Dela Cruz, who is sidelined with a medial collateral ligament strain. Backs Justin Maldonado, Secody Howard and Tanner Swinford are all suffering with ankle injuries but are expected to play.

Offensively, Rouse is primarily a pass-heavy team with quarterback Tai Gadison passing for 600 of the team’s 951 total yards of offense.

After facing several dual-threat quarterbacks during the first three weeks of the season, the Badgers’ cornerbacks and the rest of the secondary will be tested tonight.

In addition to spending some time at quarterback, Scott will be expected to cover Rouse’s most athletic receiver, Wesley Lewis, who made a spectacular one-handed touchdown grab in the opener against Liberty Hill.

Logan Kinder serves as the Raiders’ most prolific receiver with 21 catches for 287 yards and three touchdowns.

Kinder has also gained 73 yards on the ground this season, second best on the team behind Ed Butts’ 92 yards.

With a shared opponent in Liberty Hill, McQueen will use this contest as a measuring stick for where his team is in comparison to the Panthers.

“Liberty Hill isn’t a lot bigger than us, but they’ve been running that offense for 10 years now,” McQueen said. “They don’t run many plays, and they don’t care if you know where they are going to run. They are coming at you.

“That offensive line is just nasty.”

In other words, the Panthers are more than willing to get down and dirty.

While covering himself in mud worked to get his point across to his players, McQueen might settle for showing his team film of the Panthers’ offensive attack next time he wants to deliver a message.

“My wife got the dirt for me, because I was mowing the grass, and I told her: ‘I hope you didn’t get that dirt from where the cat pooped,” McQueen joked. “And of course, it had twigs in it, and when I rubbed it on my head, it had an acorn in it.

“It wasn’t like going to a spa.”

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