By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

MT. ENTERPRISE – The Grapeland Sandies hit the road last Friday knowing they needed a win against the Mt. Enterprise Wildcats to qualify for the playoffs. The Sandies had lost their first three district contests, but had defeated the Wortham Bulldogs in their next to last regular season game.

Grapeland wasted little time against Mt. Enterprise and showed they were ready to make a return trip to the playoffs as the game got underway. “It was over from the opening kickoff,” Grapeland AD/Head Coach Wayne Mahaffey indicated.

Coach Mahaffey expressed that he and his coaching staff had watched video footage of the Wildcats’ play throughout the season which showed Mt. Enterprise had a habit of attempting onside kicks early and often.

“We were not even in a return mode because they had attempted so many onside kicks over the course of their season. Rodney (Davis) was the only one who was back deep because everyone else was prepared for an onside kick. They kicked it deep, Rodney caught it and yo-yoed across the field all the way to the end zone for a score,” he said.

After the Sandies’ first TD of the game, the Wildcats turned the ball over to Grapeland on their first possession, deep in their own end of the field.  “We scored three or four plays later. I’m not sure, but I think it was Brayden Cheatham who scored our second touchdown and then Riley Chipman scored our third touchdown on a swinging gate keeper. He went right up the middle, untouched for 60 yards,” the coach explained.

Mahaffey said he was pleased with the way the team executed in the blowout win. He reported QB Rick Frauenberger connected on eight of 10 passes for 157 yards, while the running game accounted for nearly 200 yards. “I believe we picked up 190 (yards), which gave us a total of 347 yards. We only ran six plays in the second half. They started running the clock in the first quarter. I stopped them (the officials) and said, ‘Hey, we do have to play some. I have nothing against winding the clock, but we’re not going to do it in the first quarter,’” he said.

“When we scored the third time to make it 22-0, they started running the clock and I put a stop to it. After it was 39-0 – with six minutes to go in the first half – I said okay. From that point on, with about 30 minutes of playing left, we were done. We finished the ballgame by 8:45 p.m. (after starting at 7:00 p.m.) and we were home by just after 11:00 p.m.,” the coach said.

“I know the fourth quarter lasted only 12 minutes. When we changed teams on and off the field, they never stopped the clock. The third quarter may have been 14 minutes. We just had the ball twice in the second half. We had it once in the third quarter and once in the fourth and scored both times,” Mahaffey added.

With the win, the Sandies clinched a playoff spot and will play the Iola Bulldogs in the Bi-District round of the 2016 UIL Football Playoffs. The game will be held in Buffalo at the Buffalo Bison Stadium on Thursday, Nov. 10. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.

“They’re obviously a good football team. They were tri-champs (from District 12-2A DI). They’re a power running team and we’re going to have to gear up to shut down the running game, if we want to win. It’s a very winnable ballgame. We just have to be focused and we have to execute. If we do that, then we’ll have a shot. When I say it’s winnable, that doesn’t mean it will be easy. I think we match up well in personnel based on size and speed factors. It will come down to a matter of execution and who plays the best,” Mahaffey said.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.