pregame

Huntsville seniors Tyrique Carter (8) and Miles Tatum (11) look on during the coin toss prior to the season opener against Willis at Bowers Stadium.

The Huntsville Hornets pulled away in the second half of the season opener against Willis, and blew Port Neches-Groves away with a 27-0 run in the first two quarters last week.

Now, the No. 4 Hornets will look to string together their first complete game of 2019.

Huntsville heads on the road to College Station on Friday for its final test before District 10-5A Division II play. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., as the Hornets look to improve to 3-0 against the team that handed them their only regular-season loss of 2018.

“We have to continue to get better,” Huntsville head coach Rodney Southern said. “Whether it’s starting early and starting fast, or starting the second half ... we’ve done both things, so I know we’re capable of it. Now we have to put the whole thing together.”

Huntsville is expected to get starting quarterback Matthew Southern back behind center, with the coach stating that “he probably could’ve played last week if it were a district game.” The senior tossed a pair of deep touchdown passes in the season opener before exiting late in the first quarter with an ankle sprain.

Seniors Cameron Myers and Nate Hambright were among those to make an impact in the run and pass game in Southern’s absence, with Myers accounting for a team-high six touchdowns at the running back position. Senior Tyrique Carter is poised to move back to receiver after passing for three touchdowns, and rushing for one more, while filling in for Southern at quarterback.

Coach Southern points to big performances from players like these, as well as the Hornets’ defensive tenacity, as what has impressed him the most over the past two weeks.

“You look at guys like Cameron Myers and Nate Hambright that pop in my head,” Coach Southern said, “Tyrique stepped into a role and was probably more comfortable in it than he thought he would be … and we don’t ask our quarterback to go win the game for us. We tell them to let their teammates and the defense help them. Obviously, the defense helped the offense in the first two quarters last week.

“Those things naturally make you offense move, and we have guys that will make plays. Miles Tatum made three or four key plays that got first downs and kept drives going. We know have guys that can make plays, it’s just a matter of who the trigger guy is. What happens if he’s not there? The next guy has to step in and do that job.”

Coach Southern prefers to play a difficult non-district schedule as a way to prepare for the challenges that await in district play and the postseason. He points to last season’s non-district road win in a heated Port Neches-Groves environment as something that set the tone for a historic 2018 run, and the Hornets are hoping that Friday’s game can do the same for this year.

“Playing teams that are rivals or really good football teams can do nothing but help you,” the coach said. “I think the PNG game a year ago was a direct correlation to believing, ‘We can go on the road and beat anybody.’”

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