The Stephen Hodge era kicked off with a win Thursday night at Waco ISD Stadium, as Marlin rolled Blooming Grove, 24-0. And it seems that the former TCU and NFL linebacker is teaching his Bulldogs everything he knows about defense.

“It feels good, but just like in coaching you always have to take it for 24 hours,” Hodge said. “We’re going back to the office after school tomorrow. We have the rest of tonight to finish it up. It was a good one. Proud of our kids.”

Marlin held the Lions to only 111 offensive yards. As Blooming Grove ran eight times more run plays than pass plays, the Bulldog front seven was there to shut things down. And once the defense got off the field, the Bulldog offense piled on the points.

After forcing a three-and-out on Blooming Grove’s opening possession, Marlin didn’t take much time to enforce its will. Receiver Alik Brooks went from tiptoeing down the sideline to shaking off tacklers down the middle to bursting into the end zone to put Marlin on the board 7-0.

In that first drive alone, Brooks racked up 53 yards. In all, the senior finished the night with 82 total yards and a touchdown.

But it wasn’t just Brooks getting things done for Marlin. Six different Bulldogs recorded at least 15 offensive yards. Sir Charleston Lee had the most touches of any Marlin player, as the sophomore running back finished with 79 rushing yards of 13 attempts with 11 receiving yards and a touchdown.

“Sir Charleston Lee is a returner,” Hodge said. “He was a freshman running back last year, first team all-district. Brooks was first team offense and defense all-district. They’re pretty fast.”

Three different Bulldogs scored touchdowns, including offensive lineman Jeremiah Henry.

With the ball on the 2-yard line, Collins snapped the ball and turned to his right to hand the ball off to Henry, who bulldozed over anyone standing between him and the end zone. The score put Marlin up 14-0 before Sir Charleston Lee outran everybody on the field for a 38-yard touchdown.

Meanwhile, the Bulldog defense had held Blooming Grove to only one first down all game until the Lions completed their first pass of the evening on just their second attempt in the final minutes of the second quarter.

That play seemed to give Blooming Grove momentum, as running back Noah Garcia picked up a handful of yards on consecutive drives to set the Lions up in the red zone.

But the Bulldogs would only be pushed around for so long. After stuffing Garcia two yards behind the line of scrimmage, Henry sacked Blooming Grove’s quarterback and forced a fumble that Donavon Blakes recovered to keep the Lions off the scoreboard.

It was Henry again in the third quarter, as he stuffed Collin Drain three yards short of a fourth down conversion.

“That’s what leaders do in the moment of truth,” Hodge said. “You know what I mean? He always thinks he’s a skill player anyway, so we like giving him the ball and letting him run. He can really move as a big guy.”

While Marlin’s defense continued to shut down Blooming Grove, the Bulldog offense sputtered. A fumble ended Marlin’s first drive of the second half after only four plays. On their second drive of the second half – one that lasted 13 plays – ended with an interception on the three-yard line by Blooming Grove’s Chris Langford.

“I loved that shutout,” Hodge said.

Bremond 47, Whitewright 14

FERRIS – The Bremond Tigers wore fancy new helmets.

The result was all too familiar for Bremond’s opponent, though. The three-time defending state champions got the season started right, claiming their 48th straight victory. That ties Bremond with the 2007-10 Lake Travis teams for the fifth-longest streak in Texas high school football history, behind Celina (68), Allen (57), Southlake Carroll (49) and Abilene (49).

Bremond led just 14-7 after a quarter, but proceeded to score 33 straight points leading into the fourth quarter to put the game away, behind the strong running of Kaidyn Peralez.

Coolidge 45, Rockwall Heritage 0

The Yellow Jackets buzzed out to a 24-0 lead after one quarter, and zipped away with a mercy-rule win in their season opener.

Coolidge went 6-5 last year, but has designs on even more winning. The Yellow Jackets were ranked eighth in the SixManFootball.com preseason poll in Class 1A Division I.

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