The Leander Wolfpack find themselves ranked No. 18 in Developmental Football USA’s Texas Top 20 after knocking off the previously No. 13 ranked Texas Ravens, 12-6, on Saturday.
“I don’t want to say that was our biggest win in program history, but it’s definitely one of the top two,” Wolfpack co-owner Mark Rogers told Developmental football USA. “The magnitude of the victory I think is huge for our program to kind of take that edge off and kind of confirm or reaffirm that we’re doing a lot of the right things from top to bottom as an organization, with the structure of the organization and obviously the X’s O’s.”
A rough start could have caused Leander to lose control as the Wolfpack fumbled the ball over to the Ravens on the first play from scrimmage, then on the ensuing possession, a tipped pass was intercepted for the Wolfpack’s second turnover in two drives.
“The Ravens are a really good team,” Rogers said. “As expected, it was going to be a defensive battle all night long. We know that our defense is really good and we knew by film their defense was pretty good too.”
The Ravens offense connected on a deep pass play and then eventually punched the ball in from the one-yard line to go up 6-0. Both defenses stood tall for the remainder of the first half and the Ravens took their 6-0 lead into the locker room.
“We had a chance to tie, it was 4th and goal going into halftime,” Rogers said. “We had three plays there, we just didn’t execute offensively.”
In the second half, Darius Jones returned a punt for more than 50 yards and a touchdown to tie the game, but a missed extra point kept the score locked 6-6.
“The game literally came down to both defenses playing lights out,” Rogers said. “We had the break on the punt return and one good offense play is what we needed and we got it.”
In the fourth quarter, Nick Jackson took a slant pass over the middle for the go ahead touchdown to put Leander up 12-6. Defensively for the Wolfpack, linemen Isaac Cobb and Taylor Wright and safety Carlos Woolery each had three tackles for losses.
“My defensive front four played lights out,” Rogers said.
The Wolfpack defense allowed just 75 yards on the ground and 35 yards through the air against the Ravens.
To seal the win, Jamal Mays intercepted a Ravens pass to ice the game in its final moments.
“Both defenses played a hell of a game,” Rogers said. “Like I said last week, special teams is important to us and it turned out to be the deciding factor when we returned the punt for a touchdown.”
For Rogers, only one other win in the team’s young history compares to this one.
“The one that sticks out in the back of my mind is the West Texas Scorpions (in 2018) who had kind of handled us at their place,” Rogers said. “We had the opportunity to play them at home and overcome the adversity we had against those guys and not only put up a big game, but win pretty convincingly as well.”
Now, it’s time for the Wolfpack to put the celebration behind them and get ready to get back on the road as they travel to Portland, Texas, to take on the Coastal Bend Bears this weekend.
“The Bears have got some good athletes,” Rogers said. “We’re excited for this opportunity. I think this is going to be the biggest test of our season, being able to come off a big win against a good football team and have to travel four hours for another football game. If we can get past that big win hangover and win this, we will go into two bye weeks in a row.”
Leander looks to improve on their 2-1 record, while the Bears come into the game at 1-2, with a win over the River City Stampede and losses to the Ravens and Texas Red Raiders.
“I told the guys, ‘You can worry about all the rankings and all that stuff, but right now you’re 2-1 and the next team is four hours away and it’s going to be a long trip, so you better be ready to play. You wanted the respect and wanted to quit being the underdogs, you’ve got it, so now you’ve got to be ready to play.’”
It’s a trend at this level for teams to not field the same team on the road as they do at home, but this shouldn’t be an issue for the Wolfpack.
“A lot of teams use travel as an excuse for poor play at this level,” Rogers said. “We set the expectation high and we expect our guys to be committed to 10-plus football games and be committed to practice throughout the week. If they can’t commit to that, then they might as well not be part of the team.”