If we’re going off name brand recognition, the Belton Tigers are definitely one of “those” teams. You know, the ones that are always in the conversation, year in and year out. The ones that you can’t check off as a free win in the playoffs. The ones that no matter who they return or what happens, will always give you a game.
That’s the way programs go in the state of Texas, and Belton is high on that list.
The Tigers went 8-4 in 2016, a respectable record considering their competition. They squared off against fiercely hated rival and eventual state finalist Temple in Week One, and the Wildcats came back to win the game 28-20. The Tigers dropped a bit of a head scratcher to a scrappy team from Harker Heights, and lost in overtime to a resurgent Waco Midway squad, who rallied the troops after starting the season 0-2.
Next, Belton beat a very talented South Grand Prairie team, and in the second round drew the mighty Allen Eagles. Belton took the lead in the first quarter with a touchdown strike from Peyton Mansell, but couldn’t hold off the Eagles’ rushing attack for long. The final score was 24-7, but the yardage totals were only 9 yards off each other, indicative of a hard-fought game where the final score doesn’t tell the whole story.
After the season, head coach Bob Shipley retired, and was replaced by offensive coordinator Sam Skidmore.
QB Peyton Mansell, TE Remington Lutz, RB Davion Peoples, MLB John Harvey, DT David Fisher
Maybe the biggest loss here is dual threat quarterback Peyton Mansell. The lanky gunslinger is headed to Iowa after a 33-TD senior season. Running back Davion Peoples was just as dangerous when flexed out as a wide receiver, and big Remington Lutz was a blocking and pass catching machine.
On the defense, linebacker John Harvey and tackle David Fisher will be big hits for the Tigers. Both were excellent in pursuit and punishing the ballcarrier upon arrival.
FS Garrison Vaughn, DE Logan Hall, RB Bryce Julian, WR Chandler Vela
Julain and Vela will give continuity on the offense to the heir apparent to Mansell’s throne, who will likely be another in a line of dual threat Belton quarterbacks preforming well.
On the defense, Belton fans and coaches have to be excited about the return of turnover creating machine Garrison Vaughn. Logan Hall is coming off a second team all-district season, and will be a great edge player for the Tigers in 2017.
It’s easy to look at what Belton will miss from its previous year and make a snap judgement. Don’t misunderstand this – Belton is losing a lot. It’s never easy to replace a star senior quarterback, most of your rushing yards, a huge chunk of your defense, and your head coach in one offseason.
However, this is Belton, and they are one of “those” teams. They always seem to be right in the thick of things when it comes down to the early rounds of the playoffs, and I like them to return to a season that might end up seeming eerily similar to this one, right down to a game with Waco Midway for the district title.
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