Bulldog football fans will be seeing Midland High’s trio of junior safeties for quite some time.
Athen Dominguez, Noah Crumpler and Jaxson Kidd have emerged as key players on the Bulldog defense, as all three currently rank in the top five on the team in tackles.
Dominguez plays closer to the line of scrimmage in the Dawg position, while Kidd mans the free safety spot and Crumpler plays strong safety.
MHS head coach Thad Fortune says the trio are the type of players that he wants younger kids to imitate.
“When you’re trying to build a program, you want consistency and you want leadership and you want everyday guys,” Fortune said. “Those three have really kind of secured the back end for us on defense. They each have strengths that they can bring football-wise and then also personality wise to the locker room. I think it’s just a great fit for our football program and what we’re building here. They all lead in their own way.”
The three safeties will be counted on to help slow down San Angelo Central (3-2) and dual-threat quarterback Tyler Hill when the Bulldogs (4-1) open District 2-6A play at 7 p.m. Friday at Astound Broadband Stadium.
MHS will look to build on its best start to a season since 2016.
“I think we’re in a good spot,” Kidd said. “All the work we’ve put in just gives more confidence. Once we get out on the field, we know what we’re doing because we work on it so much.”
The three safeties got thrown to the fire in their sophomore year, playing on the MHS varsity squad during a 2-8 season in Fortune’s first year.
It was a trying season for Kidd, who missed some time with a shoulder injury.
Although the season wasn’t as successful record-wise as they hoped, the three felt they learned a lot from the experience.
“I think it taught us how competitive it is and how fast the game really is,” Dominguez said.
Added Crumpler: “I think it was just good to see the seniors in front of us. A lot of people would say we didn’t have a successful year last year but with Coach Fortune coming in, we saw a lot of the seniors work really hard and set good examples for us. I think it kind of inspired us to set those examples for the younger kids in the program.”
The 6-foot, 175-pound Dominguez has played as well as anybody statistically on the MHS defense this season, as he leads the team with 39 total tackles and four pass break ups. Dominguez says his hobby is lifting weights and loves the power clean, which has helped him add the mass and the strength to play downhill and be a tackling force against the run.
Crumpler, the 2022 District 2-6A 300 hurdles champion in track & field, has shined on defense after being moved from the wide receiver spot. The 6-foot, 180-pound Crumpler ranks second on MHS with 37 tackles.
The 5-foot-10, 175-pound Kidd, who pitches and plays outfield for the Bulldog baseball team, is fifth with 32 tackles.
The trio have naturally become leaders on an MHS defense that doesn’t have many starting seniors.
“Having such a young team, it makes younger guys like us step up and be leaders,” Crumpler said. “We’re one of the youngest teams in the district. When we look at the scouting report each week, it’s all seniors on other teams. But it’s just exciting because we will have lots of returning starters next year. But we’re excited about this year. We think we have a really good shot this year. The seniors that we do have playing, are really big parts of our team. Having such a young team is exciting. I think our program is really headed in the right direction.”
The trio of safeties will look to start district against the Bobcats with a victory and snap an eight-game losing streak in the series to Central that dates back to the 2011 season.
“I think that they’re going to put up a good fight,” Kidd said of the Bobcats. “We’ve had a good week of practice, so I think it’s going to work well for us in the game.”
Follow Christopher on Twitter: @chris_MRTsports
SAN ANGELO CENTRAL AT MIDLAND HIGH
When/where: 7 p.m. Friday, Astound Broadband Stadium
Radio: KFZX 102.1 FM
Online: www.midlandisdsports-bulldogs.com/broadcasts or Midland ISD Athletics app
For live updates: Follow @chris_MRTsports on Twitter
Records: Central 3-2, 0-0; MHS 4-1, 0-0
Last game: MHS 74, El Paso Andress 12 (Sept. 23); Central 63, Abilene Wylie 61 (Sept. 23)
Last meeting/series: Central def. MHS 41-17 in 2021 to take a 42-30-2 lead
What to watch
– The Bulldogs have averaged 393.4 rushing yards this season, and they will look keep that going against a Central team that is allowing 38.8 points a game.
–QB Tyler Hill has meant so much to the Bobcats offense, as he has passed for 1,008 yards, rushed for 724 yards and accounted for 18 total touchdowns. He was the Built Ford Tough Player of the Week for Class 6A after he combined for 524 total yards of offense and had seven total TDs against Wylie. Hill also completed a Hail Mary for a 40-yard TD as time expired to win the game.
–Senior Ben Imler emerged as Hill’s favorite receiving target against Wylie, catching six passes for 119 yards and three TDs. Imler also caught Hill’s Hail Mary pass.
–MHS head coach Thad Fortune said it’s important for his Veer off... Click here to read full article