Rudder vs. Bastrop football

Rudder quarterback E.J. Ezar (13) holds on to the ball during the second quarter against Bastrop in the Rangers’ season opener last month at Merrill Green Stadium.

As one of Rudder’s top returning wide receivers, Keithron Lee knew he would have to connect with EJ Ezar, the quarterback who was new to the school after his father, Eric Ezar, took the Rangers’ head coaching job.

It wasn’t hard. Lee and the younger Ezar quickly bonded and spent the summer working on timing and their connection on the field. The work over the summer and after practices has shown through two games as Rudder (1-1) has established a consistent passing attack.

“This whole summer we were putting in work trying to get timing down,” sophomore EJ Ezar said. “It’s very important to have a connection between us. I feel like he’s my brother.”

Having a receiver like Lee to throw to gives Ezar confidence on the field, and the duo has a connection off the field, too. Lee joked that EJ Ezar was shy at first but now is popular among classmates. They also share third-period algebra, where Lee says Ezar helps him.

As a father, Eric Ezar said coming to a new school is tough — EJ Ezar started at Rudder in April — and he is happy to see his son assimilate.

“Just to have the kids accept him was really big,” Eric Ezar said. “I think with 7-on-7 and the summer practices, he was able to forge [relationships] and make new friends, and that’s just a skill in life you have to get used to, because eventually you’re going to go off to college and meet new people.”

While the Lee-EJ Ezar connection potentially is game-changing, the elder Ezar likes all of the playmakers in his offense — players who helped Rudder beat Elgin 43-42 last week.

“We feel like Keithron is a really special receiver,” Eric Ezar said. “However, we’ve got Marcus Diles. We’ve got Malcolm Manley. We have a ton of receivers who we really think can do a good job. We’ve got RJ Rubio and Alvin Dunn, so we feel like if you try to take away one, somebody else is going to hurt you. To me it’s a whole team effort.”

That multiple offense rife with misdirection plays will look to continue clicking against Navasota (0-2), which is coming off a 29-0 loss to Sealy last week, in a 7:30 p.m. Friday matchup at Rattler Stadium. The Rangers beat the Rattlers 27-7 last season in a game that featured 11 fumbles. Defensively, Rudder will try to contain Navasota quarterback Zack Dyer and wide receiver La’Darrin Thomas, who missed last week’s game with an injury. Up front, the Rattlers feature 6-foot, 325-pound Jordan Jefferson, a Texas A&M recruit.

“[Dyer is] going to make his throws, but we’re going to hope that he makes some mistakes, and we’ve just got to be able to pounce on them,” Ezar said. “He’s a great quarterback, so we’ve just got to hope to be able to contain him.”

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