Football: Eagles raise bar again

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, December 2, 2017
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Fighting for Yards

FIGHTING FOR YARDS – Decatur recevier Beau Bedford tries to get away from Hirschi tacklers during the Eagles’ loss Friday. Bedford will return next year at receiver for the Eagles. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

After a fifth straight Decatur possession ended without points, the Eagles desperately needed a break Friday night.

Two plays later a bad snap rolled on the turf to Hirschi quarterback Martez V’rana with Decatur defenders closing in. Instead of the turnover the Eagles needed, V’rana corralled the ball and then broke free for a back-breaking 69-yard touchdown run to send Hirschi on the way to a 58-28 victory at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex in Denton.

It was one of four times Hirschi put the ball on the turf in the first half, but each time the Huskies maintained possession and twice followed up with touchdowns.

“We were a step away. Sometimes luck is what you need and they had it,” said Decatur senior defensive end Braxton Roth, who did recover a fumble for a touchdown for Decatur in the second half. “They did what they needed tonight. They are a great football team.”

The loss curtailed the Eagles’ most successful season under Mike Fuller. The program continued its upward tick under him.

In his first season, the Eagles made the playoffs, falling in overtime to Stephenville. The next year, they won a district title and last year made the area round. This year was Decatur’s first trip to the regional round since 2013 after the season started 3-4 and 0-2 in District 4-4A Division I

“I’m really proud. We’re sitting there six weeks ago at 3-4 and a lot of people started to doubt. Some of their teammates doubted them,” Fuller said. “But they really got better every week.

“We got to play a December football game. It’s something that’s not been done in a long time in Decatur. We had a chance to do what only a few teams have done, win three playoff games.”

The bar will be high for the Eagles heading into 2018. Decatur will return what will be a three-year starter at quarterback in Wilson Hicks and running back A.J. Martinez, who experienced a breakout in the playoffs.

The Eagles will say goodbye to 26 seniors – including three of their top receivers, several offensive linemen and a majority of the defense.

“We got some guys some experience this year and that’s always good. We have a lot of guys on defense we’re going to lose and we’ll have to replace. But next year, will be another good year,” Hicks said.

Along with the personnel changes, Decatur also faces the uncertainty of realignment. The Eagles know they will be back in 4A Division I, but who they will be in a league with is unknown. No matter, it won’t affect the goal of making a longer stay in December next year.

“We’ve got some good players coming back and we’ll work from next week until August trying to put a team together and getting as fast and strong as we can,” Fuller said.

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