By Tony Adams. Sports Editor
The Belton Tigers, fresh off of their scrimmage last Friday night, will take to the road for a neutral site game against Waco University at Waco ISD Stadium as part of the Derrick Johnson Kickoff Classic Saturday night at 7 p.m.
It will be the second consecutive season the Tigers will open up the regular season on the road. The game will be broadcast on ESPN Central Texas, 100.9 FM and 1330 AM. KWTX’s Dan Ingham will have the play-by-play, former Belton coach Chuck Douglas will have the color analysis and KRZI’s Qiant Myers was handle sideline duties.
The Montgomery scrimmage was a quantum leap in the right direction for the Tigers, though Belton head coach Bob Shipley felt the effort could have been better.
“We have a lot of things to correct,” Shipley said. “The effort could have been better at times and it all starts with effort.”
Looking at this week’s game, University was a team that Belton handled easily in the opener in 2014, 48-0. University was a young team last year and will be more seasoned for the match up this season.
“They are certainly much improved from last year,” Shipley said. “Their staff has them believing and playing with a lot of enthusiasm and confidence. They’ve changed their schemes a little and I think it will help them. They don’t appear to be doing as much offensively as they did last year, which I think is smart. They’re focused on doing what they do and doing it right every snap. Defensively they have some new wrinkles but their speed really stands out. The run to the football really well.”
The Tigers’ defense looked good against the run against Montgomery and put the clamps on the Bears in the latter stages of the scrimmage. University brings a solid running game offensively and that will be something to watch.
“I don’t think they do anything that plays into our hands, but we’ll have to do a great job stopping the run,” Shipley said. “They don’t run a lot of different plays and they do not have a fast tempo offense, so that’s good in terms of our guys not getting tired early in the game.
This ballgame will be the third game within the last year at Waco ISD Stadium and the fourth in Waco.
Waco ISD did another great job with the scheduling of the Derrick Johnson Kickoff Classic in 2015, scheduling Lexington-Teague Thursday night, Waco-Harker Heights on Friday night and Belton-University on Saturday night.
“I think it’s a great event and we’re proud to be a part of it.,” Shipley said. “They do it up right.”
However, there is a downside to playing Saturday night games.
“The down side is two-fold this year: we are losing a home game and we have to play on Saturday, which puts us a day behind in preparing for our second game.” Shipley said.
Belton had a great time in 2014, getting to see Waco High and Texas Longhorn great Derrick Johnson. He has become one of Central Texas’ great representatives in the NFL, playing for the Kansas City Chiefs on Sundays.
“It’s great to see guys not forget where they came from,” Shipley said. “He’s stayed true to his roots and has supported the youth of Waco since he left. His unselfishness and desire to give back to the town that has given him so much is a breath of fresh air. Unfortunately, he won’t be able to stay for our game because they play on Sunday, but he’ll be there for the Friday game again this year.”