By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

EAST TEXAS – The 2016 UIL Football Playoffs got underway last week with Bi-District games held all over the East Texas area. Of the original 11 teams The Messenger previewed before the season got underway, six had qualified for the postseason. After Friday night, only three remained.

Thursday was not a good night for area football teams as two of the six went down to defeat. The Grapeland Sandies traveled to Buffalo and lost a game they very easily could have won. While the Sandies fell to the Iola Bulldogs by a final score of 23-6, the game was much closer than the score indicated. Simply put, anything that could go wrong for Grapeland did and it started with the opening kickoff.

It progressed from there and included a questionable block in the back call on an 85 yard TD run, a high snap that slipped through the hands of Grapeland’s punter, several dropped passes including a possible 70 yard scoring reception and a punt from Iola that was hiked over the punter’s head, fielded by the punter who threw up a prayer that was tipped by a Grapeland DB and caught by a Bulldog player for a first down. Fortunately, the last play was nullified by a penalty.

While the loss brought the Sandies’ season to a close, Grapeland showed great improvement from the 2015 season as they finished 2016 with a record of 5-6.

Also on Thursday, the Madisonville Mustangs were doubled up by the Liberty Panthers as they were defeated by the Panthers, 62-31. The loss brings the Madisonville season to a close as the Mustangs finished 2016 with a 3-8 record.

The lone bright spot of Thursday night football belonged to the Cayuga Wildcats as they defeated the Wolfe City Wolves by a final score of 27-18. Cayuga will take on the Carlisle Indians on Friday, Nov. 18 from Herrington Stadium at the Brook Hill School in Bullard. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Speaking of Bullard, the Lovelady Lions were in Bullard last Friday for a Bi-District matchup against the Joaquin Rams. The Lions jumped out to an early lead thanks to two Lee Holsey TD tosses – one to Petey Little and the other to Jay Thomas Robinson – and then turned it over to the defense and the ground game.

Led by Tim Johnson and Ethan Campbell, the Lions racked up big yardage on the ground as Lovelady worked the clock in the second half of their 33-16 win.

The Lions will be back in Bullard on Friday, Nov. 18 as they take on the Union Grove Lions at Bullard High School. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

The Crockett Bulldogs were also in action on Friday night as they took on the West Rusk Raiders. The Dawgs bit a chunk out of the Raiders as they powered to a 56-7 victory.

The Bi-District win sets up an Area Championship matchup with the 7-4 Clifton Cubs. The game will be played on Nov. 18 in Corsicana. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

The final area team in action last Friday was the Oakwood Panthers. They fell to the Calvert Trojans by a final score of 68-22. The loss ends the Panthers season with a record of 4-7.


Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at