The smash-mouth style football that Bret Harte head coach Jon Byrnes envisioned in the offseason is rounding into form for the Bullfrogs.
In the Bullfrogs’ 27-17 loss to Sir Francis Drake, Bret Harte displayed that tough, hard-nosed and aggressive attack on both sides of the ball that impressed Byrnes.
Bret Harte’s defense wreaked havoc all night for Drake quarterback Kevin Miles, sacking him six times for 37 yards. The Bullfrogs forced two turnovers: an interception by senior defensive back Brandon Kelly and a fumble recovery that they pounced on.
The hard-hitting Bullfrogs defense limited Drake’s air-raid strike to a pedestrian 148 yards passing, below their average, and held their ground game to 130 yards.
“We were playing very aggressive last week,” said middle linebacker Logan Lowe. “We were trying to get to the quarterback, trying to hit the receivers as hard as we could to make them not want to catch the ball.”
On offense, the Bullfrogs lined up in their split-back formation and went straight at the Drake defenders. The team hammered and pounded their way through the middle and off tackle to a tune of 169 rushing yards. Junior quarterback Tyler Hagaman threw for a career-high 80 yards to add to the improving Bullfrogs offense.
“I haven’t seen a team from Bret Harte come out and play so hard in a long, long time,” Byrnes said. “And it’s refreshing to see a group of kids that want to come out and play smash-mouth football and do it the right way.”
Lowe, who also plays fullback, ran for a team-high 92 yards on 16 carries and scored on a 2-yard touchdown run against Drake. Through three games, Lowe is the Bullfrogs leading rusher with 192 yards and three touchdowns.
Lowe said he likes the smash-mouth rushing attack that the Bullfrogs deploy. It fits and complements his between-the-tackles running style.
“Contact is the only thing we really love to do at Bret Harte,” he said. “That’s the way we like to play. That’s the way we’re going to keep on playing.”
Against the undefeated 2-0 Hughson Huskies on Friday at Dorroh Field, the Bullfrogs ground game will be tested early by a big Huskies defensive line that is quick and strong off the ball. The Huskies stingy defense has yet to allow a touchdown this season, recording two shutouts against Waterford (34-0) and Denair (65-0).
For left tackle and co-captain Jared Taylor, a 6-foot-4, 280 pound senior, the task of moving the chains and running at the stout Huskies front four is a challenge for which he is ready.
“We have to push those giant defensive linemen that they have and make holes for our running backs to run through,” Taylor said. “And just gotta keep driving the ball. … I’m really looking forward to Hughson. My sophomore year, it was a really close game here and I really want to beat them. We lost in overtime 17-14.”
Although the Bullfrogs offense has emerged in the past two games, it’s the constant penalties that has shot the team in the foot and held them back.
In the Drake game alone, Bret Harte was penalized 14 times for 133 yards. A few crucial personal fouls stalled important drives for the Bullfrogs and extended drives for Drake.
“We need to clean up the penalties,” Byrnes said. “They have a lot of rage and we need to somehow control the rage, and use it to our advantage. It’s impressive to see their desire to go out and play these teams. They should have beat Drake, but we beat ourselves.”
Taylor, along with the rest of the Bullfrog captains, is making sure that doesn’t happen again. They are keeping an eye on the younger players to prevent penalties that are unnecessary.
“We feel like it’s the captain’s job to lead the team in the right direction,” Taylor said. “So we can stop getting penalties and other things like that. Me and the other captains are working on that a lot, so we can get our team back together and stop making those stupid penalties.”