Wednesday, 3/3/2021 | : : UTC-5
Harker Heights Evening Star
Harker Heights Evening Star

Knights sweep Killeen, Shoemaker, Ellison

Knights sweep Killeen, Shoemaker, Ellison


Evening Star

The Knights take the title of “City Champions” after sweeping Ellison, Shoemaker, and then Killeen Friday, 35-24.

It’s a first in the five years Jerry Edwards has coached at Harker Heights, but the Knights still didn’t make their season goal: returning to the playoffs.

“It was a win at all costs game for us, and no matter what was going elsewhere, we knew we had to win here,” said Edwards. “We haven’t been City Champs in quit some time, not since I’ve been here.”

Both teams were in a must-win situation going into Friday’s game to make the third place District 8-6A playoff spot, both teams walked away disappointed.

There wasn’t a huge celebration on the Harker Heights’ sideline after the win because of Copperas Cove’s 37-35 comeback-win at Belton was announced to the team late in the fourth quarter. It turned the Knights’ win bittersweet as it meant the Bulldawgs would be advancing to the postseason and not Harker Heights.

Harker Height head coach Jerry Edwards talks to Darius Camp about defensive strategy while Chris Van Cleave looks on.

“I’m a little disappointing, but that is what happens when you leave fate in other people’s hands,” Edwards said. “We had opportunities during the season to take care of our own fate, and we lost a couple games that I felt we should have won.”

The Knights(5-5, 3-3 District 8-6A) maintained their early lead the entire game after forcing the Kangaroos(4-6, 2-4 District 8-6A) to punt on their three beginning drives, and two touchdowns from Harker Heights’ two-headed monster: senior running-backs Jameel Hodges and Jaquan Tillis.

Harker Heights took their opening drive 91 yard in eight plays. Hodges took it most of the way, capping the drive with a 44-yard touchdown that helped spur his 120 rushing yards in 16 carries in the first half.

“This is a tough team and I knew they can be greater next year,” Hodges said. “The coaches have been the greatest and I thank them for all the opportunities they’ve afforded me to succeed.”

Killeen expected Hodges’ running, they weren’t so prepared for Knights’ starting- junior quarterback Marcel Ramirez who connected two passes to Tillis for first down to move Harker Heights across midfield and setup Hodges’ touchdown. Ramirez connected 9 of 14 for 141 yards on one of his best nights of the year and finishes with 640 total yards on the season.

Knights’ Jameel Hodges breaks a tackle and bounces it to the sideline to run 51 yards to the one-yard line.

After another Kangaroo punt, Ramirez hit Tillis with another pass in flats for a first down to setup up at midfield where Hodges ran it 51 yards down to the one-yard line. Tillis punched it in to make it a 14-0 game.

The Kangaroos were finally able to answer in the beginning of the first quarter. After a good punt return that setup Killeen at midfield, Zion Love bounced it out to the numbers for a 19-yard touchdown run.

With less than two minutes left in the first half, Killeen’s Jesus Gomez kicked a 24-yard field goal to cut the Knights’ lead to 14-10 at halftime.

Tillis opened the second half with a 62-yard run down the visitor sideline for a touchdown to put Harker Heights two scores ahead again.

Killeen’s quarterback Marcellus Johnson answered with a 35-yard touchdown pass to Love to make it 21-17.

Another long connection down the Knights’ sideline from Ramirez to Tillis put Harker Heights in the red zone at the 18. Tillis took it himself from three yards out a few plays later.

Johnson, not to be outshined, moved the ball down the field with several pass connection to Love but capped the drive with a 10-yard completion toDjhavon Dormeus as the teams exchanged touchdowns to make it 28-24 at the end of the third quarter.

Harker Heights sealed the deal when Duncan Ard made a diving catch into the end zone for a 38-yard touchdown pass from Ramirez with just over four minutes left in the game.

“The kids came out tonight did what they could and put it all out on the line,” said Edwards. “They fought hard all year long in come-back situations. This is a resilient football team, it just didn’t work out in the end.”

Photo by ALLEN FISHER Harker Height head coach Jerry Edwards talks to his defense.

Edwards will be returning as head coach of the Knights next year along with 10 starters, four offensive starter and six starters on defense.

Harker Heights will have to build a new offensive line with only one returner next year. Senior offensive tackle Sam Pinkney. “

But a key player next year will be the Knights’ starting quarterback Ramirez.

“I’m going to train on speed and strength, just speed and strength,” Ramirez said. “I plan to lead the team well next year.”

Knights’ secondary should be strong next year as all are returners, and defensive tackle Dorian Black, who lead the D-line in tackles this year, will be returning.

“We should have a strong secondary next and we’ve got some great classman coming up into those missing positions, said Edwards. “We’ll work hard and grind each day.”


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