Round Rock hosts Belton in home opener Thursday


Head coach Jeff Cheatham and Round Rock receive a major test this week, as they host Belton at Dragon Stadium on Thursday at 7 p.m. in week two action.

The 1-0 Dragons easily disposed of their week one opponent, Harker Heights, 36-7 on the road last Friday, for one of just two season-opening victories since 2008. Cheatham points to the rare season-opening win as a massive building block for this season's playoff aspirations.

"We have always had to play an extremely difficult schedule and it's hard to get going that way," Cheatham said on Wednesday. "We're very fortunate to start 1-0."

Belton enters the game at 0-1, due to a loss to perennial state championship contender Westlake last week. Still, the Tigers cannot be overlooked. Belton ousted Round Rock last season by a 38-14 decision, on their way to the 6A state playoffs.

"0-1 doesn't matter, Belton is a good opponent," Cheatham said. "Our goal is to just keep getting better each week, and Belton is probably saying the same thing."

On the flip side, Round Rock's offense is as good as anyone's in the area, and will be a critical part of any success the Dragons have on Thursday. When Round Rock tallied 36 points at Harker Heights last week, it was the seventh consecutive game in which they scored 28 or more points.

"They're all good players, and I can't put it any other way," Cheatham said. "Ryan O'Keefe is a threat with his legs and his arm, and he's got four legitimate wide receivers and a great backfield. We have most of the guys from last year (on offense), so there's a lot of continuity and a lot of flow with that group.

"We aren't really leaning on one thing here, we just try to balanced running and throwing the football."

The up-tempo, lethal offense posted 325 yards on the ground last Friday. O'Keefe, the second-year starting quarterback, and running back Marquis Brown ran for 112 yards each, with Brown rushing for three touchdowns in addition to O'Keefe's 70-yard scoring run.

Starting the season off at 2-0 would be huge for Cheatham and his crew, especially with district play right around the corner. "If we're 2-0, we're all going to be tickled to death, but right now our biggest goal is just to get better and see where we're at."

With a nine-team District 13-6A, Round Rock plays eight district games, with this week's bout against Belton being their final non-district matchup of 2017. The district schedule begins after an idle weekend with a Friday, Sept. 21 face-off against cross-town foe McNeil.

"We're still trying to shore up some positions and get them completely worked out going into the bye week," Cheatham said. "It would be good to see some progress going into week one (of district play)."