Excitement has filled the air all this week at Brady High School as the Bulldogs prepare for their homecoming football game here with an old rival, the Ballinger Bearcats. It marks the 74th time the two have met on the football field. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. Friday (tonight) in Bulldog Stadium and a full house is anticipated. “We always like to play Ballinger,” second-year Brady coach Jay Jones said Wednesday. “They are a quality school that always seems to produce a first-class football squad.” The two teams have one common foe in Sonora, and both fell to the Class 2A Broncos: Ballinger by a 29- 15 score and Brady, after leading at halftime, 17-14, Sonora ended up downing the Dogs, 42-17. The Sonora loss by the Bearcats was their only one. They have defeated Colorado City, Llano and Breckenridge. Brady’s record is 1-2 with a win over Mason and the opening loss to Coleman, 22-21. Coach Jones and his staff worked the Bulldogs hard during their open week. “The workouts were as tough as I’ve ever been associated with,” the mentor said earlier in the week. During this week of practices, the Dogs have concentrated on stopping Ballinger’s running game, headed by senior running back Caesar Martinez, a 5-6, 170-pound senior. It was Martinez’s goal coming into the season to rush for 2,000 yards. He had 1,471 yards last season, averaging 6.7 yards per carry. The Bulldogs held Martinez pretty much in check last season (19/95) in their 21-14 victory, but this is another year. The Bearcats are led by QB Tyler McGee, a 185-pound senior, who guided the team the past two seasons. Leader of the line is senior guard/ middle linebacker Tanner Sykes, 6-2, 215-pounds, who has been making tackles from sideline to sideline. “This young man is a top-notch player whose motor runs 100 percent of the time,” Jones said. Coached by a former Bearcat himself, Dan Slaughter, had amassed a career coaching record of 160-116-3 entering the 2000 season. He has a 18-14 mark in his hometown. Last year’s contest between the two schools was the coming-out party for Brady tailback Johnny Menefield. He burst onto the scene with a 138-yard performance against the Bearcats on 22 carries as the Bulldogs spotted Ballinger a 7-0 first quarter lead then scored 21 unanswered points before their opponents scored another TD. Neither team scored in the final quarter. Jones termed his Bulldogs in “good” physical condition for the big game. “We feel our players are focused now following last week’s sessions. The kids really responded well to our practices. I expect this team to quickly return to the winning column,” he said. The Bulldogs have a two-game winning streak against Ballinger, having won the last two meetings. But before that 24-0 victory in 1998, the ‘Cats had won five in a row, from 1993-97. There have been some donnybrooks during the 74 meetings of the two. The latest was in 1996 when Ballinger held off Brady in a controversial district win, 12-7. Brady’s coach George Nelson claimed until he left town in the spring of 1998 that the clock had not stopped as the Bulldogs prepared to run a play from the Bearcat five-yard line. The winningest coach in Texas high school football history, Gordon Wood, of Brownwood, spoke to the Bulldogs at a city-wide pep rally at Richards Park last Tuesday night. The nominees for homecoming queen were revealed at the pep rally. She and the homecoming king will be named during today’s (Friday) school pep rally that starts at 12:25 p.m. The king will escort the queen during halftime ceremonies at the Friday night game. A homecoming reception honoring the homecoming court will be staged from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Friday at the BHS library. The First Christian Church of Brady will host the Fifth Quarter Party immediately following the ball game. BHS and Brady Middle School students are invited for a night of dancing and fun from 10 p.m. to 12 midnight.