Venus improves to 2-3 with 41-15 homecoming win over Arlington Newman

Sep. 26—VENUS — For a second time in three weeks, the Venus Bulldogs came away victorious, this time a 41-15 homecoming victory Friday over Arlington Newman International Academy.

After suffering through a 25-game losing streak, the Bulldogs have now put together two wins in a three-game span. And the latest win over the Warriors gave Venus (2-3) its first multi-win season since going 3-7 in 2017.

"The kids are excited and we're excited as coaches," Venus Coach Terry Spray said. "We know that district play is fixing to start and the teams that are in our district are all capable of being playoff teams. We know it's fixing to be a tough road ahead of us but we're there for the challenge. If we think we're not one of those teams that can make it, then what are we playing the game for? Our ultimate goal is to try to get in the playoffs."

Spray said the 2-1 record in their past three games has given his team confidence, but just as important has been the support and excitement from the community rallying behind this year's team.

"I've been here 13 years and that homecoming crowd in the stands and on the fence was the largest I've ever seen in Venus," Spray said. "We had a line coming out of the door to the field all the way from the field house to the field. I think you see the excitement in the community. You see the things that people are changing and trying to make it better. I think you put all of that together and you see the work being put in, I think our kids can't be anything other than excited with the change and atmosphere we see every day and on Friday night."

The Bulldogs were led by another stellar outing from junior running back Damarie Bell, who rushed for 340 yards and four touchdowns on 29 carries — his second 300-plus rushing performance this season.

"He actually started out and had a couple of fumbles," Spray said. "We let him know, 'That's not you; you need to step it up a notch.' After we got onto him and he realized he wasn't performing well, he came out the second half and really performed. On one of his runs, the coaches and kids were saying, 'Look at Marshawn Lynch' because he was busting through three tackles at a time and he was dead to right at the line of scrimmage but he kept fighting. It was a sight we were proud to see.

"What's great about Damarie is he's so smooth with his cuts and his vision. He's seeing things that a great running back sees. We've seen so much improvement with him."

Freshman Joseph Escarzaga added 68 rushing yards on 10 carries while junior quarterback Francisco Rodriguez completed 16-of-21 passes for 146 yards but had three interceptions.

"Offensively, we came out a little flat and made some mistakes then took charge and did what we were supposed to do," Spray said. "It's been a while since we feel like we didn't play a good offensive game and still have 529 yards of total offense. To me as a coach, that's a step of saying that we could've done a lot better and we're holding ourselves to a higher standard."

Venus' defense shut down Arlington Newman with Gavin Hawes and Xander Harisis leading the way. Hawes had two interceptions while Harisis had a pair of interceptions.

"Gavin Hawes played well and had two interceptions," Spray said. "The defensive front with the outside linebackers was pressuring their quarterback all night long and made him very uncomfortable. Xander Harisis and Julian Medina put a lot of pressure from the outside and I feel like our inside linebackers played really well. I felt Coach [Justin] Fox had a great scheme against them by pressuring them and saying we're going man against you, let's see if your athletes can beat ours."

Now the Bulldogs have a bye week to prepare for their District 4-4A Division II opener against Glen Rose.

"We know Glen Rose is capable of beating anybody in this area and even the state, and our ultimate goal is to give them some problems offensively and defensively," Spray said. "If we play them good and even can beat them, it obviously will give us confidence and be a huge win. It we don't beat them but can put up some points on them and play well, even that can be a sign of progress and give us some confidence. We've just got to keep our kids believing that the season's not over even if we lose against a strong Glen Rose team."