By CLINT FOSTER
The Community Christian School Warriors’ 2013 campaign has gotten off to a rocky start, falling to 0-2 out of the gate after facing two high-caliber non-district opponents.
The Warriors’ most recent loss was at the hands of Dallas Tyler Street Christian Academy, who rallied from a 6-0 deficit to lead 18-6 at halftime.
The Crusaders took control in the second half to win 42-26 at Miller Stadium.
The CCS Warriors will take on the Ovilla Christian School Eagles on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Avalon High School just south of the OCS campus in Red Oak.
Head coach Bryan Horton felt his team squandered some opportunities to build on their lead in the first half when they lost two fumbles inside the 10-yard line. Horton said his team understands that If those possessions had gone differently, the outcome of the game would have been very different as well.
“We played better, so I got the improvement I wanted to see, but at the same time I really felt like that was a win we kind of let get away from us,” Horton said. “I really felt like that one was ours for the taking.
“Defensively, we played about as well as you could have asked for. We got away from our keys a little bit there in the secondary, but overall I was pretty happy.”
Horton said the Warriors’ pass defense still needs to improve, pointing out they were able to stop Tyler Street most of the time until they decided to “heave the ball down field.”
But the second straight home loss for the Purple and Black was not without bright spots. As usual, the Brazeal cousins led the way, combining for three of the Warriors’ four touchdowns. Isaiah scored on an 80-yard kickoff return and Sammy did his best William “The Refrigerator” Perry impression when he scored on a 1-yard rumble into the end zone in the second half. But the game’s first touchdown was a thing of beauty for both CCS and the Brazeal family. Sammy put some intense pressure on Tyler Street’s quarterback from his defensive line spot, forcing the Crusaders’ signal caller to chunk the ball right into the waiting hands of Isaiah, who returned the interception 48-yards for a touchdown.
The Warriors also saw a change under center against Tyler Street, with Horton giving utility playmaker Joby Bradshaw the nod as starting quarterback for the game instead of sophomore Landon Payne. Bradshaw, who played quarterback in one game last season, threw a touchdown pass in the loss.
Horton said Bradshaw could easily step into the role of quarterback because he knows the playbook well and has played the position before. Horton added he chose Bradshaw over Payne – the Warriors’ day one starter – because Payne needs more time to mature and learn the position. In Horton’s words, Payne can pass well, but playing quarterback is about a lot more than just throwing the football.
“I really like (Bradshaw) at quarterback, but I really like how he looks at every position,” Horton said. “This week it was good for us to get a little bit of consistency in some offensive areas. Payne’s a sophomore. He’s learning the game, he’s learning football, he’s learning about himself.
“We’re really looking to put him in the best position possible to succeed, looking for different opportunities in the passing game and at the same time allowing him to kind of catch up.
“Long-term, I really want to see Payne out there playing quarterback. I feel like we’re a better team when he’s in that position. But at the same time, I want to bring him along with some wisdom, allowing him to get confident, remain confident and do it in as much of a low-pressure environment as a football field will allow.
With Tyler Street behind them, CCS has turned their attention to the Ovilla Christian School Eagles, another non-district opponent and the Warriors’ first road test. It will be Ovilla’s inaugural football game as a program. Horton has not officially named a starting quarterback for the Ovilla game, saying it depends on “what formation we come out in.” However, Horton did name Bradshaw as his starter, “tentatively.”
Being that CCS is Ovilla’s first ever game, Horton only has one scrimmage from the Eagles to refer to in the film room. To Horton, Ovilla looks all too familiar, as he said they remind him of what CCS looked like when it first started football. He said the Eagles have a lot of athletic ability and they’re primary strength is running the ball.
“Looking at them on film, I can tell you they’re not what you would typically expect in a startup program,” he said. “They’ve got some talent. They’re going to be ready to play. They’re going to be amped up and excited. They’ve done nothing for a month except get ready for us, so I expect a pretty hard-fought contest.”
Horton said he feels confident that the Warriors can make their first appearance in the win column this season against Ovilla. Although it is a non-district game, Horton said earning a win against an emotional team like Ovilla will be very important for his team and their season moving forward.
“If Ovilla comes out and plays football as well as it looks like they can play, I think a ‘W’ would be huge for us,” he said. “I think it means something and it’s absolutely something we can be proud enough. I’m expecting to see that from Ovilla and frankly I’m expecting to see my guys respond to what they’ve seen the last few weeks.”
Horton hopes the Warriors have learned a lesson from the past two games.
“We let one get away from us,” Horton said. “We’re going to make sure that doesn’t happen this Saturday and then we’re going to go right back to work and see if we can get on a little streak here.”
Follow Clint on Twitter @Clint_Foster55