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Dogs flex in Santo

Thursday, August 23, 2018

RUMBLE - Bulldog fullback Kain “the Pain Train” Kunkle bulldozes a Santo defender after snagging a pass from quarterback Daniel Bottlinger in last Friday’s away scrimmage. The Dogs are set to host both Tolar and San Saba for a three-way scrimmage at 5 p.m. this Thursday and will kickoff the 2018 season on Friday, Aug. 31 at home versus Millsap.
Staff Photo

Offensively, the new look Dogs appeared more like the Dogs of old in their first football scrimmage of the season last Friday night in Santo.

Reminiscent of the early 2000s when Hamilton was a playoff linchpin, the Bulldogs flexed Friday night from the flex-bone, wishbone and inverted wishbone formations while adding an occasional dose of the traditional I-formation into the mix.

With the departure of signal caller Grayson Moore to Goldthwaite, senior Daniel Bottlinger took the reins and led a balanced attack in Hamilton’s first 15-play offensive series.

Hamilton hammered the Wildcats on 12 rushes for 57 yards, and the senior gunslinger went three-for-three passing for 50 yards and a touchdown. The sequence was highlighted by a 40-yard scoring strike from Bottlinger to his tight-end, Ty Bates.

Hamilton again pounded out an almost five yard per carry average in the second offensive series, churning for 54 yards on 12 rushes and grabbing three first downs in just 15 plays.

Blake Pettit opened the set with an off-tackle burst for 15 yards, and Bottlinger was again proficient throwing the ball, connecting with Luis Najera on one of his two passes for five yards.

Sophomore quarterback Colby Bailey ended the series on his only pass attempt by rolling to his left and sticking the ball in the hands of his tight-end along the sideline for four yards and a Bulldog first down. In red zone offense, the Dogs took just four plays to march 25 yards to pay dirt.

Following an incomplete pass on first and ten from the Wildcat 25, the Dogs punched for 11 yards and a first down on two rushes before fullback Ian Nath barreled in from 14 yards out. Though Nath’s bruising scoring rumble was negated by a holding call, the Bulldog offense proved they could effectively advance the ball in their first competition versus a worthy opponent.

Defensively, the Dogs man-pressed on the perimeter and disrupted the line of scrimmage with a smaller, more mobile defensive front. Hamilton stuffed the Wildcats for just 29 yards rushing on 10 attempts, and 24 yards through the air on one-for-four passing.

Santo gained traction in their second offensive series and took advantage of Hamilton’s younger, less experienced second-team defense late in the sequence.

The Dogs stymied the Wildcat ground game early, holding Santo to just 12 yards rushing on eight carries. It was Santo’s ninth rushing attempt that finally broke through the Bulldog barricade as a Wildcat scampered 76 yards to the scoring box.

On the subsequent play, Santo dumped the ball to their tight-end over the middle for another 70-yard score. Santo ended the series with 129 yards through the air on three-for-five passing.

In red zone drills, the Bulldog defense again caged the Wildcats early. With the ball on Hamilton’s 27, Santo escaped a fourth and 12 with a quarterback bootleg down to the Hamilton one-yard line. The Wildcats tacked on their third score with a QB keeper up the middle to bring the scrimmage to an end.

In junior varsity action, the young Dogs played Santo to a one touchdown apiece standoff. Like the varsity Dogs, Hamilton’s JV defense suffocated the line of scrimmage, holding Santo to just 22 yards on 11 rushes. Santo did manage to get behind the Bulldog secondary on their only pass attempt in the first series.

AWildcat tailback snagged a pass on a wheel route and paraded 54 yards across the goal line. The Bulldogs responded on Santo’s second set of downs by forcing two incomplete passes and holding the Wildcats to just 17 yards rushing on six carries.

Offensively, Hamilton’s JV ran a total of 20 plays split between two series. Signal-caller Keegan Votaw connected on three of four pass attempts for a total of 29 yards with all three grabs being made by fullback Caleb Lengefeld.

Though efficient through the air, the greatest damage perpetrated by the Dogs offensively was on the ground as the Bulldogs bulldozed for a whopping 120 yards on 16 touches, not including a 30-plus yard run by Blain Bankston called back for holding.

Jadon Watson matched the Wildcats on the board with a 61-yard touchdown jaunt around the left side in Hamilton’s final series.

Hamilton’s varsity and junior varsity Bulldogs will be back in action this Thursday evening at Kooken Field for a three-way scrimmage with past district foes, San Saba and Tolar.

The scrimmage is at 5 p.m. and will be the last practice game prior to the Bulldogs kicking off their 2018 campaign at home next week versus Millsap.