Pretenders or Contenders?

By Chris Boothe
Messenger Sports

Three weeks in and teams are beginning to show whether they are pretenders or contenders. With another big slate of games ahead, more teams take find themselves taking two steps forward or two steps backwards. Here is a look at this week’s action.

Grapeland Sandies (1-1, 0-0) vs. Buffalo Bison (2-0, 0-0)
Friday, September 15, 7:30 pm
Sandie Stadium, Grapeland, TX

For the first time this year, the Grapeland Sandies will look to bounce back from a loss, after droppin

g a 33-12 showdown against the Groveton Indians. Awaiting the Sandies will be a Buffalo Bison team that is yet to drop a game this year.

Buffalo opened the season in impressive fashion, taking down Rice 41-6. Last week the Bison kept the momentum going with a 48-20 win over the Normangee Panthers. The Bison have moved away from their grinding style of offense, and have moved to the ever popular spread offense. This could benefit the Sandies, as they will use their team speed to match up well with the Bison in the showdown between longtime rivals.

Crockett Bulldogs (1-1, 0-0) vs. Rusk Eagles (1-1, 0-0)
Friday, September 15, 7:30 pm
Eagle Stadium, Rusk, TX

To call Friday’s loss to Diboll a setback would be an understatement. There will be no rest for the Bulldogs, who must now regroup and get up for a rivalry match against a talented Rusk Eagle squad. The Eagles, coming off a loss of their own, have been one of the surprise teams in east Texas.

If Crockett looks to win, they first must clean up the mistakes. The Bulldogs turned the ball over six times in their loss to Diboll and were penalized several times during crucial stretches of the game.

The Bulldogs will also have to slow down a rushing attack that is averaging 299 yards per game. Senior Sam Thomas leads the way for the Eagles with 313 yards on 27 carries (11.6 ypc) with two touchdown runs. Quarterback Darrian McDuff is second on the team with 236 yards and a team best four touchdowns on the ground.

Don’t doubt McDuff’s passing ability, as the senior has thrown for 266 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions in the first two games of the year. In total, the Eagles have six players with at least one reception, led by Adrian Morris with seven catches for 82 yards.

Lovelady Lions (1-1, 0-0) vs. Joaquin Rams (1-1, 0-0)
Friday, September 15, 7:30 pm
Ram Stadium, Joaquin, TX

Last season the Lovelady Lions and Joaquin Rams met up for a pair of instant classics. Lovelady held on

for a thrilling victory at home for just their second game of the season. Later on, the Lions would again emerge victorious over the Rams in the playoffs. Now the teams will meet again, this time on the boarder.

Joaquin got off to a strong start on the road against archrival Tenaha, but a last second kickoff return for a touchdown would dash the hopes of the Rams earning a huge road win to start the year. Last week the Rams got back into the winning column with a resounding 58-7 win over Maud. Now both teams will look to push their record over .500 for the first time this season.

Elkhart Elks (2-0, 0-0) vs. Troup Tigers (1-1, 0-0)
Friday, September 15, 7:30 pm
Tiger Stadium, Troup, TX

Two games in and two wins for the Elkhart Elks. The Elks used their high powered running attack to take down the Leon Cougars last week in emphatic fashion. Next up is a Troup team fresh off their first win of the season after taking down Ore City 28-14 on Friday night.

The Elks strength matches up well with the Tigers defense, as Troup has struggled this year againt the run. Spring Hill gashed the Tigers in the season opener, leading to a 52-23 win. Running back Ramiro Martinez will be the Tigers top weapon on Friday night. Junior Weslee Ross will quarterback the Tigers.


Palestine Wildcats (2-0, 0-0) vs. Fairfield Eagles (1-1, 0-0)
Friday, September 8, 7:30 pm
Eagle Stadium, Fairfield, TX

The Palestine Wildcats have come roaring out of the gates. After a nice win over Mabank, the Wildcats kept the train rolling with a gritty road win over a feisty Jacksonville squad. Now the Wildcats will be tested again with

a road trip to face former district rival Fairfield in what should be a thrilling matchup.

The key to winning this one? Stopping the run. The Eagles are a run-first team, rushing for 188.5 yards per game this year, while passing for just 52 yards a game. Quarterback Kameron Ransom leads the way with 210 yards rushing and two touchdowns, while passing for 105 yards and four interceptions to start the season. Ransom is the engine that makes the Eagles go, but isn’t the only weapon. Junior Kadarius Walker and sophomore Jar-Mychael Hudson have combined for over 160 yards on the ground and five touchdowns.

Westwood Panthers (1-0, 0-0) vs. Kirbyville Wildcats (0-1, 0-0)
Friday, September 15, 7:30 pm
Panther Stadium, Palestine, TX

To say Westwood won their season opener would be an understatement. The Panthers strolled to a 31-13 win over their Anderson County rivals from Frankston. Now the Panthers will face an emotional Kirbyville team that dealt with severe flooding before falling to East Chambers 28-0 in their opener last week.

Kirbyville earned a 26-14 win over the Panthers last year, and will look to build upon that with a roster chalked full of experienced playmakers. Among those playmakers are quarterback Tadarius Smith and running back Cam Smith. The duo in the backfield were a threat all last year and look to pick up right where they left off.

Trinity Tigers (0-2, 0-0) vs. Centerville Tigers (2-0, 0-0)
Friday, September 15, 7:30 pm
Tiger Stadium, Trinity, TX

For the second straight week it was tough luck for the Trinity Tigers, who came up just short in their road game against the Hearne Eagles. Now the Tigers will make their home debut against a longtime rival in the Centerville Tigers. While Trinity has come up short in the win column, Centerville has done nothing but win.

Centerville was a class 2A-DI State Semifinalist a year ago and return 12 starters (6 offensive/6 defensive). Returning playmakers include senior running back Brandon Madison who carried the ball for 2253 yards and 28 touchdowns a year ago. Roland Davis will also put in time on the offensive side of the ball, but is more known for his defensive work after finish 2017 with 90 tackles, nine passes broken up, and six fumble recoveries.

Madisonville Mustangs (2-0, 0-0) vs. Caldwell Hornets (1-0, 0-0)
Friday, September 15, 7:30 pm
Mustang Stadium, Madisonville, TX

Madisonville hasn’t slowed down one bit to start the season. The Mustangs opened the year with an eye-opening win over Teague before taking down Woodville 30-22. Now they will host a Caldwell team that made waves of their own after taking down powerhouse Franklin 57-42 on Friday night.

The Hornets put the pedal to the metal early, rolling to a 41-28 halftime lead on the Lions. After three quarters the Hornets held a cozy 57-35 lead over the Lions and looked poised to get the win. Franklin would make a late push, but were unable to stop the upset.

Madisonville on the other hand found themselves in a dogfight. Still, the numbers were there as the Mustangs ran the ball for 257 yards as a team. Now the Mustangs will look to balance out their offense to avoid upset and take down the Hornets.

Alto Yellowjackets (1-1, 0-0) vs. Arp Tigers (0-2, 0-0)
Friday, September 15, 7:30 pm
Tiger Stadium, Arp, TX

Alto bounced back from their season opening loss to Winona in a huge way by taking down a very talented Big Sandy team last week. For Alto, the level of difficulty isn’t letting up this week, as they now must face a stout Arp squad that has lost two straight to open the season.

Don’t be deceived by the Tigers 0-2 record. Arp started the season with a heartbreaking loss to Tatum, before dropping a 22-21 decision to Hughes Springs on Friday night. While the numbers don’t show it, Arp is a very dangerous team.

Led by Texas commit Demarvion Overshown, the Tigers defense is physical and nasty. Not afraid of a hit, the Jackets must be prepared for some old-school, smash-mouth, football. Offensively the Tigers haven’t been overly impressive, putting up just 172 yards of offense in their season opener against Tatum. Senior Demontrae Wade will be the focal point, as the running back carried the ball for 67 yards on 18 carries in the opener.