HALLETTSVILLE - Hallettsville went into Friday night's game at Yoakum without quarterback Nate Kowalik and nose guard Ja'Kree Porter.
Both players suffered knee injuries, putting a damper on the Brahmas' early-season success.
"Everyone's a little down when you lose two good players," said senior lineman Quinton Wright. "We always say everything happens for a reason to test our character. We could have easily gave up, but we didn't."
The Brahmas pulled out a 20-18 win over the Bulldogs to go 3-0 for the first time since 2005.
"Being able to handle adversity is one thing," said Hallettsville's Tommy Psencik, who is in his third season as head coach. "The other thing is we're a team and we don't count on one person or two people, we count on everybody. Things like that happen in life. Great teams have to overcome things like that. If we're going to be a champion, we've got to overcome it."
Carson Schindler stepped in at quarterback and completed 14 of 26 passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns.
Tyler Steffek and Elondre McAfee alternated at nose guard and helped limit Yoakum to its lowest point total of the season.
"When you lose a quarterback, there's always going to be a little bit of a setback where you've got to catch back up on timing and stuff like that," Psencik said. "The plays aren't going to change any. We might change some formations, but the actual plays won't change."
The Brahmas set much higher goals this season after coming on late last season.
They lost their first three games in 2011 and were 2-5 before winning five straight games and advancing to the Class 2A, Division I regional playoffs.
"We've been practicing hard ever since we were sophomores," said running back Teidrick Smith, who carried 18 times for 132 yards against Yoakum. "We're trying to set a new tone for this team. We could do a little more. We can get better. We want to be way better than this."
Hallettsville hosts Boling on Friday night, attempting to start a season with four wins for the first time since 2004.
That was a memorable year for the Brahmas, who went 9-2 and advanced to the Class 3A, Division II quarterfinals.
"It may be more difficult to handle success than it is a loss," Psencik said. "Success is one of those things. If you think you can't be beat, that's the time you're going to be beat.
"We want them to enjoy themselves because life's short," he added. "But we want them to be humble about it."
A perfect three
Hallettsville received votes in the state Class 2A poll for the first time this season.
The Brahmas are ranked No. 16.
Along with Hallettsville, Calhoun, El Campo, Palacios, East Bernard, Refugio and Flatonia, Kenedy, Woodsboro and Runge have started 3-0.
Calhoun, El Campo, East Bernard and Refugio are state-ranked again this week.
District play nears
District play begins next week in 30-4A, 23-4A, 25-3A, 15-2A, Division I, 13-2A, Division II, 14-2A, Division II, 15-2A, Division II, 16-2A, Division II and TAPPS Division II, District 3.
Area stat leaders
Statistics are needed for area leaders. Coaches should send cumulative season statistics for rushing, passing, receiving, scoring. interceptions and punting.
Statistics may be emailed to email@example.com or faxed to 361-574-1220.
Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.