Football: Bulldogs set for next step
At first glance, it would appear that Reagan head football coach Stephen Dixon is playing for the future.
Dixon has started as many as six freshmen and lists a number of sophomores at the top of the Bulldogs' depth chart. But Dixon refuses to use Reagan's youth as an excuse for not winning this fall.
"We're trying to win today," Dixon said. "Next season is next season."
Reagan's recent 15-14 victory over Sterling kept alive the Bulldogs' hopes of stealing District 21-4A's final playoff berth.
"It's kind of muddled right now," Dixon said. "It looks like Yates, Austin and probably Waltrip are in (in the playoffs), but there are a couple of teams, including us, fighting for the fourth spot."
Dixon said Reagan probably needed to win two of its final three games to advance to the postseason. The Bulldogs, who met Austin last week, conclude the regular season against Davis at 1 p.m. Saturday and Sharpstown at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 5, both at Butler Stadium.
"Our kids were riding high after the Sterling win," Dixon said. "They really believe we have a shot (at the playoffs)."
Reagan began the season slowly, but the Bulldogs' fortunes changed after making a switch at quarterback. Freshman sensation Tyron Washington earned his first start in a 38-27 loss to Waltrip in the District 21-4A opener, throwing for one touchdown and rushing for a score. Since that moment, Reagan hasn't looked back.
"We became a much better offensive team with Tyron on the field," Dixon said. "He's a special kid, very athletic. I expect him to play college football when he's done (with high school)."
Reagan has a proven performer in senior Argant Hardison at tailback. Hardison is among the league's top rushers with close to 700 yards and six touchdowns in Reagan's first seven games.
"Argant is very reliable," Dixon said. "You know he's going to rush for 100 yards every game."
The Bulldogs suffered a setback when junior Dylan Wilburn, the fullback, broke his hand. Sophomore Jalen Wells, who also has played defensive end and linebacker, has filled in for Wilburn.
Washington's strong arm has allowed Reagan to tap into its dangerous receiving corps featuring senior Trevaughn McDaniel and junior Dexter Rogers. Senior Aaron Carnline is another pass-catching threat at tight end.
"We have great receivers, especially Trevaughn and Aaron, but, early in the season, we didn't have anyone who could get the ball to them," Dixon said. "Tyron has really opened up the offense."
Dixon also acknowledged the blocking of the offensive line. Senior left tackle Justin Murcia, junior right guard Alex Tyson and junior right tackle Manuel Trigeros have been mainstays all season. Meanwhile, senior Dawayne Sanders and junior Demontre Ross have stepped up at left guard and center, respectively, after injuries to seniors Justin Martinez and Leonardo Arguelles.
Defensively, Reagan has relied heavily on unproven players, who have matured over the past few weeks.
Jaaron Thomas, a 5-foot-10, 320-pound freshman, has emerged at defensive tackle along with Ross and Tyson. Sophomore Marquice James and Wells have seen action at defensive end.
Trevor O'Reilly, another exciting freshman, has stepped up as one of the linebackers in the Bulldogs' 4-2-5 scheme. Wilburn has performed well, not to mention Wells.
The secondary is almost brand new, with senior Christian Lopez and freshmen Malcolm Lafleur and Tavon Dodd at the safeties and juniors Kalani Broussard and Hardy Hill at the cornerback slots.
Senior kicker Alex Chavez was the hero against Sterling, booting a game-winning 20-yard field goal with one second remaining against Sterling.
"We had some time-management issues at the end of the game, but Alex saved us," Dixon said.
Chavez's leg may have salvaged the season for Reagan, which is trying to return to the Class 4A playoffs for the first time since back-to-back appearances in 2004 and 2005.
"We're a young, but very talented football team," Dixon said. "Making the playoffs would be a wonderful experience for these kids. I hope they get the opportunity."
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