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Week 5 Preview

Football on Field

District Play Gets Underway for Some

By Chris Boothe
Messenger Sports

Things are beginning to get a lot more real. For several area teams, district play kicks off on Friday night, and each game will have major playoff implications. For others, this will be their last rehearsal with district play


just around the corner. Without further ado, here is a look at this week’s matchups.

Grapeland Sandies (2-2, 0-0) vs. Bye
With a resounding win over the Frost Polar Bears, the Sandies now surge into the bye week with a ton of momentum. Grapeland will return to action on Friday, October 6, when they travel to face the Maud Cardinals.

Crockett Bulldogs (1-3, 0-0) vs. Coldspring-Oakhurst Trojans (0-2, 0-0)
Friday, September 29, 7:30 pm
Monte Jack Driskell Stadium, Crockett, TX

After a season opening win against Trinity, the Bulldogs have gone on a three-game slide. Now, the Bulldogs have a chance to snap back and pick up their first win in almost a month when they host Coldspring for Homecoming 2017. Coldspring had a delayed start to the year, and an early bye week, leading to limited playing time for the Trojans.

The Trojans have struggled this year with losses to Shepherd (32-22) and Liberty (49-34), and will also be looking to bounce into the win column. Coldspring does not air the ball out much, as they have just 58 yards passing on five completions on the season. Instead, like most other Bulldog opponents, the Trojans try to work their magic on the ground.

Breakout freshman Contavious Parker-Harden leads the way for the Trojans with 295 yards rushing through two games and a team-best five touchdowns. Junior David Fulcher is second with 191 yards, with quarterback Trey Higgens (97 yards, 2 TD) as the only other recorded ball carrier for the Trojans.

The Trojans will have to step up defensively to stop Bulldog quarterback Marcus Smith. Smith had a breakout game against a very good Madisonville team, and will look to lift the Bulldogs to their second win of the season.

Lovelady Lions (2-2, 0-0) vs. Timpson Bears (3-1, 0-0)
Friday, September 29, 7:30 pm
Lion Field, Lovelady, TX

The Lovelady Lions will see a familiar face on the sidelines Friday night when former coach Kerry Therwhanger and his Timpson Bears roll into town. The Lions, coming off their second win in three weeks, will look to take down a Bears squad that has been stout to start the year.

Each of the Bears three wins have come by at least 20 points, as Timpson opened the season with a head-turning 48-6 win over West Sabine. After a 30-6 loss to Carlisle, the Bears have mauled their last two opponents in Cross Roads (28-8) and Hawkins (38-14). Senior quarterback Jaden Johnson is the Bears leading weapon this year.

Elkhart Elks (2-1, 0-0) vs. Westwood Panthers (1-2, 0-0)
Friday, September 29, 7:30 pm
Jerry Ives Memorial Stadium, Elkhart, TX

Friday’s district opening contest between Elkhart and Westwood is a tale of two different teams. Elkhart, while suffering their first loss two weeks ago, had the week off to regroup and prepare for their district opener. Westwood on the other hand, fell to the Troup Tigers in heartbreaking fashion as time expired, and now must bounce back quickly as the games mean much more.

Look for the Elks ground game to play a big role in this one. Elkhart is averaging 271 yards per game on the ground this year, with junior Jonathan Simmons picking up almost half of those yards each game (121 ypg). Simmons is the Elks leading offensive weapon with four touchdowns on the season. Sophomore John Ashford is also putting up solid numbers with 164 yards and three touchdowns through three games.

Westwood is very similar, using a physical running game. The running game worked in their opener, defeating Frankston 31-13. Since then, the Panthers have struggled to get wins when needed. After a 34-6 loss to Kirbyville, the Panthers saw a win slip through their fingers in a 19-17 defeat to Troup. This is the same Troup team that handled Elkhart the week before. This game will have major playoff implications for both teams.

Palestine Wildcats (2-2, 0-0) vs. Kilgore Bulldogs (3-1, 0-0)
Friday, September 29, 7:30 pm

Wildcat Stadium, Palestine, TX

The District of Doom officially kicks off play on Friday night when the Palestine Wildcats welcome the Kilgore Bulldogs to town. After starting off the season 2-0, the Wildcats have struggled, losing back-to-back contests. Meanwhile, Kilgore opened the season red hot with three straight wins, but dropped a double-overtime thriller to Texarkana Texas High last week.

Kilgore has been very impressive to start the year. With wins over Nacogdoches (35-21), Gladewater (33-21), and Pine Tree (64-28), the Bulldogs have a lot of nice wins on their resume. A lot of that success is credit to a very explosive offense. The Bulldogs use a fast paced and physical ground game led by quarterback Buddy Jackson and running back Javorie Hamilton.

Trinity Tigers (0-4, 0-0) vs. Buna Cougars (2-0, 0-0)
Friday, September 29, 7:30 pm
Cougar Stadium, Buna, TX

The Trinity Tigers were unable to break their season opening slide last week, with a 30-6 loss to Shepherd. None of those losses matter anymore, as it is a clean slate for the Tigers, who now kick off district play on Friday night against the Buna Cougars.

Buna had a late jump on the season, as their first two games of the year were cancelled due to Hurricane Harvey. Once the Cougars were able to hit the field, they have put up strong results. The Cougars took care of Anahuac two weeks ago 28-20 before taking down Hamshire-Fannett 27-7 last week.



Groveton Indians (2-2, 0-0) vs. Normangee Panthers (2-2, 0-0)
Friday, September 29, 7:30 pm
Panther Stadium, Normangee, TX

After starting the season 2-0, things were looking good for the Groveton Indians. However, an untimely injury and a few bad bounces have left the Indians reeling on a two-game losing streak. Up next for the Indians is a Normangee squad that has also seen their ups and downs this season.

Normangee opened the season in a big way, taking down Snook in emphatic fashion. The Panthers roared their way to a 62-7 win. The next week would be a much different story, as the Panthers were on the other end of a lopsided score, falling to Buffalo 48-20. Normangee would bounce back, taking down Chilton two weeks ago by a score of 45-40. Again, the Panthers would lose all momentum last week in a devastating 46-0 loss at the hands of Burton.

Alto Yellowjackets (1-3, 0-0) vs. Rusk Eagles (3-1, 0-0)
Friday, September 22, 7:30 pm
Yellowjacket Stadium, Alto, TX

2A versus 4A, no reason the small school should win? Right? That is the scenario we see this week, as the Alto Yellowjackets will resume their Rusk County rivalry against the Rusk Eagles. Alto edged the Eagles last year 26-21, and now Rusk is out for revenge.

Rusk enters this seasons showdown feeling much better about their chances. Rusk was 1-3 at this time a year ago, and now sport a cleaner 3-1 record. Much of that is due to the emergence of quarterback Darrian McDuff and running back Sam Thomas. The duo has combined for over 1000 yards of total offense this year.

McDuff sets the table with his dual threat abilities. The senior has completed 61 percent of his passes for 734 yards and five touchdowns this year, while rushing for 463 yards and seven scores. This is a perfect complement to Thomas, who has carried the ball a team best 545 yards and five scores. This offense will be a tall task, even if the Jackets banged up defense, shows up healthy.