ALEDO — For the last week, the Aledo Bearcats have had plenty to be proud of. They are 3-0 and ranked eighth in the state by the Associated Press poll. They have dominated every game they have played so far, punctuated by a 33-10 bashing of the Weatherford Kangaroos. But don’t be fooled, because Aledo head football coach Tim Buchanan knows there is still plenty that needs to be worked on before the Bearcats start District 8-4A play Friday in Stephenville.

In each game the Bearcats have played, Aledo has had one flaw, which has been exposed, but in each game it was different. In the Brewer win, it was penalties, both the amount and the variety. But, that can be explained away with first game jitters. Against North Crowley, it was the short passing game and turnovers. And last week against Weatherford, it was kickoff coverage.

“The thing that irritated me the most about it was the missed tackles,” Buchanan said. “Weatherford did a good job of blocking the guys who make a lot of tackles for us — number one being Logan Armstrong. Then we had some other kids who were unblocked who just missed tackles. Either physically just missed them, or the ball carrier put a move on them and if it had been two-hand touch, they would still be running.

“So we worked on that this morning, we will work on it again tomorrow morning, we will work on it again Thursday morning, we will work on it again Friday morning until I find 11 guys who want to go down there and tackle somebody. We moved one of our sophomores up today to see if he could go down there and make a tackle.”

The JV player Buchanan is referring to is Tanner McDonald, who plays quarterback but is one of the better tacklers on the team.

The Bearcats also had some problems defending the deep ball, as Weatherford got several big plays from Bryce Kleven. As the Bearcats prepare for their district opener, that will need to be one thing that cannot happen, especially Friday against Stephenville.

“We have faced some teams that run the football pretty good,” Buchanan said. “We were not sure what Weatherford was going to do. If Willie [Fielder] played, we knew they would run the ball, so we worked a little bit more on their running game than on their passing game. We gave up a couple of big passes against Weatherford. It is good to have an extra week to work on the passing game, [Stephenville] and ours.”

Aledo gets the extra week to prepare because of the bye week. Most coaches want to have the bye a little later in the season, not the third week in September. But, for Aledo, it might be better to have now.

“This year, because the bye is so early, I just soon not have it,” Buchanan said. “I would rather have it later in the season when we are a little beat up, a little tired and have a chance to recuperate a little bit. But, it did fall at a good time for us this year because of Nico Dollar having a sprained ankle. Hopefully it will give him a week to recover and get back into the swing of things.”

Dollar suffered a high ankle sprain in the Weatherford game and Buchanan is hopeful to have Dollar back on the field, running, by Monday.

While the Bearcats have had the struggles, Aledo has had its fair share of success. Until the Weatherford game, the Bearcat defense had not given up 100 yards rushing. Plus, the defense is only allowing 240.7 yards per contest and has only allowed 41 points on the season.

“Defensively, I felt like our defensive front again did a good job of getting pressure on the quarterback,” Buchanan said. “I felt like Logan Armstrong did a good job. Jack Bryant did a good job of coming off the bench when Dollar got hurt and coming in and doing a good job at the strong safety position.”

On offense, when it comes to blocking, most people talk about offensive linemen, especially with the quality of linemen Aledo has. But others played critical blocking roles for Aledo in their running game.

“Kirby [Myers] also had three big catches, which was one of the things I was happy about — that our tight ends got involved in the passing game,” Buchanan said. “Those receivers also did a good job of blocking down field — Jack Bryant, Kirby Myers, Tristan Griffin — did a good job of blocking down field when McGuire and Loftin got loose down field. Then the offensive line did a good job of blocking at the point of attack and continuing down field making blocks.”

When it comes to the Aledo offensive line, a lot of people bring up senior tackle Kyle Hix, but in football, it is not a one-man show and that was proven Friday night. Hix is at one end of the line, but the other tackle had a difficult job as well and his efforts, as well as the rest of the offensive line, were noticed by Buchanan.

“I thought Jeff [Kemp] had one of his better nights,” Buchanan said. “He was blocking a guy they say is a Division I player and I saw Jeff take 89 and knock him 5 yards off the ball several times.

“When you have a guy rush for 250 yards, you did a good job of blocking up front. I can tell you that right now. [Cole] Loftin had the one big run, but he still had 150 yards without the long run and then [Ryan] McGuire had three touchdowns. [Austin] Stockon rushed for 30, 40 yards on several carries to average about 4 yards per carry as the fullback. Our offensive line did a good job of picking them up. We did give up our first sack Friday night, and it was a communication problem, not a physical problem.”

To only give up one sack in three games speaks volumes about the offensive line, but the offensive and defensive lines will need to continue their domination for Aledo to continue its success as the Bearcats start district Friday with a road game in Stephenville.

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