For a lot of teams, a bye week can be your best friend when you need a chance to get your feet under you, iron out some wrinkles and give players a chance to recover from any nagging injuries. For a team on a hot streak, like the No. 14 Leander Wolfpack, a bye week isn’t quite the same.
“It’s tough when you’ve got some good momentum,” Wolfpack co-owner Mark Rogers told Develomental Football USA. “We lost our first game, then won three in a row, so it’s tough to stop that momentum. The only concern we got coming back is how do we get that train rolling again?”
The Wolfpack almost knocked off the defending Texas United Football Association 2018 Champions, San Antonio Titans, to kickoff the season, then quickly rebounded with wins over the Texas Showtime, Texas Ravens and Coastal Bend Bears before being off for two weeks.
“We’ve had two bye weeks back-to-back,” Rogers said. “One was spent preparing for the Lone Star Bandits, the other was just focusing on our own schemes and healing up, of course to get everyone as healthy as possible.”
Intensity should definitely pick back up this week in practice as the Wolfpack prepare to hit the road to face the Bandits, who are based out of the San Antonio area.
“We’re excited to strap the pads up and hit somebody again,” Rogers said. “It feels like we’re starting a new season having those two weeks off. Now we’ve got six straight. Right now we’re 4-1, last night was technically a forfeit win (over the ATX Tigers who were removed from the league).”
Record-wise, the Bandits aren’t having quite the year the Wolfpack is so far, but they gave the No. 20 Texas Ravens a run for their money this past weekend and even led the prestigious Ravens 18-6 through three quarters.
“They are a very big, very physical football team,” Rogers said. “Their tailback is phenomenal. This game is definitely going to be won in the trenches. I don’t think we’ve seen the size up front on the offensive and defensive lines that the Bandits have.
“I think we’re pretty good up front of the defensive side of the ball, but I don’t think our guys have seen an offensive line this big. If we can win up front and keep their running back contained, we’ll be ok, but we have to come up big on third and short and fourth and short opportunities.”
Saturday will mark the first ever meeting between the two programs. Now divisional opponents, they will face off again later on this season, too, when the Bandits have to travel to Leander.
Through four games, the Wolfpack have seen several players emerge that look to be vital for the remainder of the season.
“Dereon Kizzee has done a great job moving from strong safety to cornerback and accepting that role,” Rogers said. “He’s gotten better and better each week. He was our Defensive Player of the Game last game against the Bears.
“Our offensive line has gotten better and better each game and has really gelled as a unit. They are very well coached and have taken the coaching to heart and have actually applied it.”
While it’s only been two weeks, quite a bit has changed around the league since the Wolfpack’s last game. With the Red Raiders 30-0 shut out of the Texas Colts on Saturday, only three teams remain unbeaten. With just the Red Raiders, the Titans, and the Hardin and Jefferson County Hawks still perfect on the year, the Wolfpack is sitting in great shape, at 4-1.
“Football is a crazy game,” Rogers said. “They schedule games for a reason, a lot of guys look good on paper and play other teams well. The Red Raiders shut out the Colts, I expected that to be a closer football game. Looking at their division, we’ve got the Colts sitting at the top, then the Tomball Bobcats and the Titans are in a pretty tough division.
“We almost saw an upset last night. I thought the Ravens were going to shut it down (when trailing the Bandits 12-0 at halftime), but they came out after halftime and it was a whole different ball game.”