Playoff Picture Taking Shape 

By Chris Boothe
Messenger Sports

The playoff picture is starting to take shape, and the race is on for several teams. Almost all of the area games have some playoff implications, making for some exciting matchups. Here is a quick rundown of this weeks action.

Grapeland Sandies (4-3, 1-1) vs. #1 Tenaha Tigers (8-0, 2-0)
Friday, October 27, 7:00 pm
Sandie Stadium, Grapeland, TX

After suffering their first loss of district play, the Grapeland Sandies will not have much time to lick their wounds. Next up is the #1 team in class 2A-DII, the Tenaha Tigers. The Tigers have been rolling through the season, and the Sandies are one of just two hurdles remaining in their hunt for another district championship.

The Sandies defense will have to be prepared on all fronts, as Tenaha can put up numbers quickly, and in a variety of ways. Tenaha averages 186.4 yards per game through the air, and a measly 217.9 yards per game rushing.
As for the engine that makes that offense go, look no further than senior quarterback CJ Horn. Efficient doesn’t begin to describe Horn, who has completed 80 percent of his passes for 1499 yards with 23 touchdowns to just two interceptions. While Horn isn’t a big runner, he has shown an ability to get outside of the pocket and take what defenses give him.

Primarily the ground game goes through senior Onterio Thompson. Thompson is just short of the 1,000-yard mark with 956 on the year with 12 touchdowns. Horn is next with just 245 yards rushing.
It is the plethora of receivers that makes Tenaha dangerous. The Tigers have 11 different receivers with at least one reception. Senior Trai Gardner leads the team with 29 receptions for 655 yards and nine touchdowns. Jay Lloyd is equally dangerous with 18 catches for 242 yards and six scores, while Cody Foshee has hauled in 13 passes for 309 yards and five touchdowns.

Crockett Bulldogs (1-6, 0-2) vs. Frankston Indians (1-6, 0-2)
Friday, October 27, 7:30 pm
Frank & Opal Austin Memorial Stadium, Frankston, TX

For both the Crockett Bulldogs and Frankston Indians, things have gone far from planned. Both teams have seen their fair share of struggles, including Crockett’s heartbreaking loss to Corrigan on Friday night. The teams will enter Friday’s contest with identical 1-6 records, and 0-2 records in district play. One team will leave with the chance to turn things around, while the other will all but find themselves eliminated from a playoff spot.

Frankston has found themselves struggling on both sides of the ball. Offensively the Indians are averaging just 16.6 points per game. A big blow came when senior quarterback Garret Bean went down with an injury early in the season. Since then the Indians have had several struggles on the offensive side of the ball.

Defensively has been just as rough with Frankston giving up 38.6 points per game. Through two district games that average has shot up. The Indians have given up 99 points in two games, while managing to score just 13 points against Garrison and Hemphill.

 

Lovelady Lions (4-3, 2-0) vs. Centerville Tigers (5-2, 2-0)
Friday, October 27, 7:00 pm
Tiger Stadium, Centerville, TX

Just like last year, the Lovelady Lions and Centerville Tigers will meet with a lot on the line.

The two district front runners are coming off big district wins, and perfect district records. Unfortunately, one team will walk away with a late district loss. While both teams are virtual locks for the playoffs, this game will play huge in the race for the district championship.

Centerville opened the season with three wins in impressive fashion before dropping back-to-back contests. A 57-21 loss to powerhouse Mart, as well as a 47-25 loss to Thrall lit a fire under the Tigers, who have since responded with back-to-back wins to open district play. Centerville thrashed West Hardin 50-0 before taking West Sabine behind the woodshed in a 41-7 victory.

Elkhart Elks (3-4, 1-3) vs. Whitney Wildcats (4-3, 1-3)
Friday, October 20, 7:30 pm
Wildcat Stadium, Whitney, TX

Another district loss laid a huge dent in the Elkhart Elks playoff hopes. Now the Elks find themselves in a “must win” mode in order to stay in the playoff hunt. The Elks three game stretch to end the season will kick off Friday night when they travel to face the Whitney Wildcats.

Whitney is a much different team than a month ago. The Wildcats were rolling to start the season, including a 52-13 win over Westwood. Since then the Wildcats have dropped consecutive games to West and Teague respectively. Now in order to stay in the playoff hunt, the Wildcats are in a must win situation like the Elks.

Due to an injury to quarterback Devin Wilson, the Wildcats have been leaning on junior quarterback Tate Pankey. Pankey has passed for 229 yards through seven games with two touchdowns and three interceptions. The Wildcats offense now runs through sophomore running back Dez Garner. The sophomore has rushed for 546 yards and five touchdowns this season.

Palestine Wildcats (3-4, 1-2) vs. Chapel Hill Bulldogs (3-5, 0-4)
Friday, October 27, 7:30 pm
Bulldog Stadium, Chapel Hill, TX

It is time for the Palestine Wildcats to make a move if they want to find themselves in the playoffs. With a closing stretch that includes Chapel Hill, Carthage, and Henderson, the Wildcats will have their h

ands full. Instead of looking ahead, the Wildcats will take this challenge on, one game at a time. First up will be the Chapel Hill Bulldogs.

Don’t let their 3-5, 0-4 record be deceiving. The Bulldogs have been very competitive this year, falling in a couple of heartbreakers. Chapel Hill is young and balanced, a mixture that could lead to a spoiler role down the stretch.
Sophomore Kahlan Griffin leads the offense from the quarterback position. The young quarterback has thrown for 1105 yards with 15 touchdowns and six interceptions. Griffin is also a dual threat out of the backfield with a team best 840 yards and nine touchdowns.

Westwood Panthers (1-6, 0-4) vs. Eustace Bulldogs (4-3, 1-3)
Friday, October 27, 7:30 pm
Bulldog Stadium, Eustace, TX

All but eliminated from playoff contention, the Westwood Panthers are now looking to spoil a season or two. First up for the Panthers is a Eustace Bulldog team coming off a big win over Elkhart and looking to build upon that success with the season coming to an end.

Like many teams the Panthers have faced this year, Eustace uses their ground game to impose their will. Junior Alejandro Sanchez eclipsed the 1000-yard mark last week, and leads the Bulldogs with 1010 yards and nine touchdowns. Clifton Johnson is second on the team with 649 yards rushing and a team-best 11 touchdowns.

 

Trinity Tigers (1-7, 1-3) vs. Warren Warriors (0-6, 0-3)
Friday, October 27, 7:30 pm
Warrior Stadium, Warren, TX

The season isn’t done yet for the Trinity Tigers. Coming off a 44-14 loss to a Coldspring team that has really caught fire, the Tigers are ready to go back to work. Next up is a Warren team that has seen more struggles than success.
Warren has lost all six of their games this year, starting with a disappointing 40-22 loss to Evadale, all the way to a 30-8 defeat at the hands of Kirbyville. Warren has lost each game this year by an average score of 41-9. The closest Warren has come to a win was a 21-6 loss to Tarkington in week 2.

Groveton Indians (4-2, 2-0) vs. West Sabine Tigers (1-7, 0-3)
Friday, October 27, 7:30 pm
John W. Reynolds Athletic Complex, Groveton, TX

The Indians are in familiar territory as they continue to churn through district play. While the Indians face a favorable matchup in the West Sabine Tigers, they cannot be caught looking ahead to their big finish. The Tigers are an athletic team that can play spoiler on a given week.

The Tigers are currently riding a three-game losing streak since starting district play. West Sabine last saw the win column on September 22 when the Tigers picked up a resounding 54-0 win over Burkeville. Since then the Tigers have fallen to Tenaha (65-0), Lovelady (46-12), and Centerville (41-7). As long as the Indians don’t get caught looking ahead to their final two games of the year (Centerville and Lovelady), Groveton has the chance to keep pace atop the standings.

 

Alto Yellowjackets (2-5, 1-1) vs. #6 San Augustine Wolves (7-0, 2-0)
Friday, October 27, 7:30 pm
Yellowjacket Stadium, Alto, TX

The first three teams of the Yellowjackets district schedule have a combined total of just one loss. This is the final of that stretch, but arguable the most talented. Carlisle entered last week’s game undefeated, but left with their first loss of the year. Alto will look to strike again this week against the undefeated San Augustine Wolves.

The Wolves are balanced with 183 yards passing and 211 yards rushing a game. Between senior quarterback Gavin Murr and running back Kenneth Davis Jr., the Wolves have a pair of dynamic playmakers. Murr is completing 65 percent of his passes for 1311 yards with 15 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Davis on the other hand has carried the ball 96 times for 841 yards and 12 touchdowns. The duo are more than capable of taking over a game.

However, their defense may be more imposing. With 11 sacks and nine interceptions, the defense is quick and relentless. The Wolves are allowing just under seven points a game this year through seven games. San Augustine has given up just seven points in two district games.