Once you get past the big names like Chris Titen and Dalan Raspberry, the Dublin Lions have an inexperienced young squad.
He appeared in the team’s season opener – a 61-23 loss at Fort Worth Christian.
The learning curve won’t get any easier this week with the Lions facing the Albany Lions – Team 1 in Class 2A Division Two – at 7pm on Friday in Dublin.
“They’re always a very good, traditionally very talented team,” said Dublin sophomore coach Greg Hardcastle. “They got an experienced midfielder, and an experienced back….for me, that is the biggest attacker they have been up front that I can remember. It will be a big test for us, a tough match.”
Dublin lost 18 seniors, including 15 rookies, from the 9-4 semi-finalist of Zone II-3A in Division II last year before losing to State Final Gunter 62-20. It was the deepest watershed tour in the school’s history.
Teten is back after throwing 4066 and 42 TDs as a junior last year, while Rasberry had 54 catches for 931 yards and 9 TDs last year.
Dublin lost the 6-foot-3 Rasberry in the first quarter last week, adding to the pressure on Teten and a young team.
“Hopefully he’s good to go this week,” Hardcastle said. “He took a bullet in the back, and we stopped him as a precaution.”
With Raspberry out of the game, Teten found himself working with several first-year college players. Thus, the lions struggled to throw the ball. Cameron Button’s decline was also not in full force, having previously missed training due to illness.
“Chris, he felt like he had to take a big load, and he did,” Hardcastle said. “He really went up and drove. … We went through some growing pains.”
Teten had a very Teten-like game, completing 7 of 19 passes for 123 yards with one interception. He also led the team in a hurry with 60 yards.
The defense, which had to replace eight Rookies from last year, also struggled against a Fort Worth Christian team — giving up 393 yards in total, including 256 assists.
“They are one of the best teams we’ve ever played across the board,” Hardcastle said. “With so many newcomers, it was quite a challenge.”
Big Cats in 2A DII
While Dublin has plenty of young cubs, Albany has solid core experience from a 13-1 team that clinched a win away from the 2A Division II Finals – losing to eventual state champion Stratford 35-14.
He showed experience in a 19-14 victory against Trinity Christian in Lubbock. Trinity returns nearly every start from the 10-4 TAPPS Division III team that qualified for the semi-finals.
The blacks rolled 364 yards, including 270 yards. Coy Lefevre had a game high of 127 yards and a TD, 77 yards, on 13 gigs, followed by Adam Hill (11-80), who scored a game-winning TD at 15 yards with 1:45 remaining in context.
Quarterback Cole Chapman completed 11 of 18 passes for 94 yards, including a 19-yard TD pass to London Fuentes, while running 11 times for 67 yards.
Despite the disparity in experience, Albanian coach Denny Faith is ready for battle.
“We’re expecting a tough match,” Feith said. “We will not think that they will not give us any of their best shots. After the defeat they suffered last week, they will starve to win at home. They will come out ready to play.”
Faith said Titan makes Dublin a dangerous team.
“They have a great quarterback,” Faith said. “A big, strong kid who can throw it, moves well, plays a lot with his feet which keeps the play alive. They have two really good receivers to throw in. They will be a challenge for us.”
This is the ninth year in a row that the teams have played each other. Albany wins the last three and leads the series 7-1. Dublin’s only win, by decision 26-20 in Dublin, came in 2018. Albany won last year 48-21 in Dublin, after winning 64-27 the previous year in Albany. Three of the matches were decided by seven points or less.
“It’s a good measuring tool for us to see where we are and what we need to work on,” Hardcastle said.
Likewise, Faith also enjoys playing Dublin every season, as she said, “It always gives you a really tough game.” “They are very well trained. Their kids are playing hard. We will see some things we will see later in the year with the schemes they are doing. It is a good preparation for us as we enter our region and hopefully for the playoffs.”
How do you match
All eyes will be on Teten, when Dublin has the ball.
“We have to make sure that we keep the centre-back in the pocket and not let him go out running and playing with his feet,” Feith said.
While Hardcastle said his team needs to do a better job opening up the running lanes, he wouldn’t mind entering a passing competition with Albany.
“That’s been our strength for the last couple of years – throwing the ball,” Hardcastle said. “Maybe we have to rely on that to move the ball.”
Albany has a strong running game, but Faith has no problem throwing the ball either.
“We feel comfortable with what they give us,” Faith said. “If they load the box, we feel comfortable throwing the ball. If they are going to defend and drop seven or eight in the secondary to prevent us from throwing the ball, we feel comfortable playing it too.”
Hardcastle said his young team must grow up quickly to beat Albany.
“We have to play flawless football for one thing,” Hardcastle said. “We have to run. There were times on Friday where we didn’t run like we had to miss or miss some errands and things like that. Those are things we have to get right. They’re a tough opponent, and we have to slow down their game of running.”
Faith said Albany couldn’t shoot herself in the foot.
“We have to control the ball when attacking – no flips, no penalties that kill drivers,” Feith said. “Some of these things hurt us a bit in the fights and the first match. We have to take care of our penalties.”
picking Albany 35, Dublin 21
Next best game
Cisco (1-0) at the wall (1-0)
Cisco needed two more times to beat the Hawks last year at Wall. Expect another thriller this year.
Wall, who went 5-5 in District 2-3A Division II, basically reloads but was impressive to beat Eastland 49-20 last week on the road.
The 533-yard wall had a massive lunge, averaging 10.7 yards per carry, while also throwing for 141 yards. Garrett Guy ran for 168 yards and two TDs, while Nathan Pepper ran 128 yards and two TDs.
Cisco, ranked No. 7 in Class 2A Division One, opened the season with a 30-14 victory over Clyde. QB Hunter Long ran for 138 yards and three TDs, while Trenton Huston added 134 yards and three TDs. Lobos averaged 6.8 yards per carry.
The best of the rest
Breckenridge (1-0) at Childers (1-0)
QB Chase Lehr threw for 189 yards and four TDs as the Buckaroos beat Jacksboro and former Breckenridge coach Casey Hubble 42-13 last week. Jerry Lawson added 123 yards and a TD in 10 carries a balanced offensive tackle.
The defense did a good job with Jacksboro, a team expected to fight Eastland for the county title, 55 yards from the dash and just over 200 yards overall.
However, the Bucks get a big, big test with Childress, who ranks seventh in Class 3A DII. The Bobcats outperformed Abernathy 16-14 last week.
Tolar (1-0) early (1-0)
Tolar Early offers a good early test. The Rattlers, who ranked #12 in Texas Football magazine’s Class 2A DI poll, brought back a good core from the 10-3 team. Tolar opened the season with a 29-15 win over Bester.
Early on, he was named No. 15 in the Texas Football Pre-Season 3A DII poll, beating the Bangs 34-20. The Longhorns beat the Rattlers 33-16 last year.
Also watch Brownwood (0-1) at Marble Falls (1-0). The much-improved Lions are vying for the Mustangs chosen #20 in Texas Football’s pre-season A DI poll. Marble Falls qualified for the District 9-4 semi-finals last year.
1. Stephenville (1-0) – beat Midlothian 49-42; In Everman (1-0)
2. Brownwood (0-1) – lost to Weill 30-24; In Marble Falls (1-0)
3. Early (1-0) – beat bangs 34-20; Tolar (1-0)
4 – Breckenridge (1-0) – beat Jacksoboro 42-13; at Childress (1-0)
5. Snyder (1-0) – beat Slatoon 28-14; in Levelland (0-1)
Class 2 A
1 – Hawley (1-0) – beat Jim Ned 30-7; Lubbock Roosevelt (0-1)
2. Coleman (1-0) – beat Mason 7-6; Ballinger (0-1)
3. Cisco (1-0) – beat Clyde 41-13; at the wall (1-0)
4. Builder (1-0) – beat Fort Worth Trinity Christian 19-14; in Dublin (0-1)
5. Roscoe (1-0) – beat Colorado City 46-20; to open
Class 1 A
1. Westbrook (1-0) – beat Said 62-16; In Jonesboro (1-0). Thursday match
2 – Benjamin (1-0) – beat Moran 78-6; Wild Dorado (1-0)
3. May (1-0) – beat Gayton 58-12; Austin St Stephens (1-0)
4. Knox City (1-0) – beat Straw 54-8; At Matador Motley County (0-1)
5. ERA (1-0) – beat Motley County 54-6; Knox City (1-0)
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