Somebody’s finally coming home to Dick Bivins Stadium tonight to host somebody who’s already been there.
And when they’re done this evening, somebody will still be unbeaten at Bivins and move above .500 for the season.
Following back-to-back treks to the Permian Basin to open the season, Amarillo High finally plays at home tonight, hosting Randall at 7 p.m. in a clash of 1-1 teams. The Battle of Bell Street will take place far from that locale in a stadium Randall has already won in this year.
So far, Amarillo High has played as many games at Midland’s Grande Communications Stadium as Randall will have played at Bivins by the end of tonight. The Sandies are coming home with a split of those games, beating Midland High 49-17 last week after losing to Midland Lee in the season opener.
“It was good to go back to Midland with back-to-back games both posing a true challenge to us,” AHS coach Chad Dunnam said. “I thought we improved a lot as a team.”
While the Sandies were on the road to Midland and back, Randall was staying close to home. The Raiders opened their season at Bivins with a 47-6 rout of Palo Duro, then opened their home schedule last week with tough 18-17 loss to Caprock, where they couldn’t hold an 11-point fourth quarter lead.
In a game which was often a defensive struggle and marred by a myriad of penalties on both sides, the Raiders left Happy State Bank Stadium wondering what might have been.
“We had opportunities last week to take care of things and sew it up but we didn’t take care of business,” Randall coach Gaylon Selman said. “Every week it gets tougher and tougher and this week is no different.”
Despite having opposite results last week, the Sandies and Raiders enter this week in similar circumstances in terms of personnel, or more specficially, who will be a quarterback. Neither team is starting the quarterback who took the first snap during week one.
Senior Will Maynard, who threw five touchdowns in Amarillo High’s loss to Lee and two more in the first half against Midland, left the game late in the first half with an undisclosed injury. That meant the Sandies had to turn to junior Brock Wade.
They didn’t appear to lose much with Wade, who completed 8-of-15 passes for 169 yards and three touchdowns in the third quarter to help put away the game. He was helped by Jameson Garcia, who had five catches for 103 yards and three touchdowns.
“I felt like Brock came in and did a tremendous job,” said Dunnam, who confirmed that Wade will start tonight. “I have confidence in him and I think all of the coaches and his teammates did going into the game. I’m so proud with the leadership of our kids. They all fed off that.”
Junior Braxton Burd started at quarterback for Randall in the season opener against Palo Duro and played well until he was knocked out with a shoulder injury in the third quarter. Senior Jared Gallegos replaced Burd and has been behind center since then, and will start tonight.
Regardless of who the quarterbacks are, Selman expects an intensity which is expected from schools who are separated by only a stretch of over three miles on Bell Street.
“(The Raiders) are definitely up for the game,” Selman said. “They know those kids (at Amarillo High) so well. It’s always a nice physical game, which we like.”
Something will have to give when an Amarillo High offense which has piled up 89 points in two games against Class 6A schools faces a Randall defense which didn’t give up a touchdown through the first seven quarters of the season. The Raiders have given up a mere 355 yards of offense in the first two games.
Randall linebackers Branson Britten and Braden Beck have gotten the attention of Dunnam.
“Those two linebackers know how to play the game,” Dunnam said. “They fly around and know how to play defense. Offensively they have a physical running game. You always know what Randall’s about.”
Thanks to the schools’ proximity and the time of the season, tonight should feel a lot like a district game. It could be as much chess match as winning the physical matchups on the field.
It’s probably in Randall’s favor to keep the game low-scoring, and that could be determined as much as anything by what the Raiders do on offense.
“To keep (Amarillo High) from scoring we’ve got to control the clock on offense to have a chance to win,” Selman said. “We’ve been solid in that area but we’ve still got to get better.”