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2017 Week 0 Preview

Football on Field

By Chris Boothe
Messenger Sports

It’s that time of year, as the grass is cut and the lines are painted. Football season is back across much of the state of Texas. Unfortunately, that isn’t the entire state as the devastating effects from Hurricane Harvey have wreaked havoc across the state and caused cancellations and postponements across the state. Here is a look of the games scheduled, as well as cancelled. Also, please follow The Messenger on Facebook for any further scheduling updates.


Grapeland Sandies (0-0, 0-0) vs. Lovelady Lions (0-0, 0-0)
Friday, Sept. 1, 7:30 p.m.
Sandies Stadium, Grapeland, TX

Due to inclement weather, the Sandies season opener against Kountze has been cancelled. The Lovelady Lions, who originally had a bye week scheduled, have stepped in to play the Sandies.


Crockett Bulldogs (0-0, 0-0) vs. Trinity Tigers (0-0, 0-0)
Saturday, Sept. 2, 2 p.m.Monte Jack Driskell Stadium, Crockett, TX

Due to inclement weather, the Crockett Bulldogs season opener against the Trinity Tigers has been pushed back a day, as kickoff is now slated for 2:00 pm on Saturday, September 2. Still, football will get its official kickoff in east Texas when the Bulldogs play host to their longtime rivals from Trinity. Crockett won the last meeting 42-0, and will look to continue that success on Saturday.

While the Bulldogs lost a handful to graduation, the cupboard is far from bare. Crockett will lean on dynamic playmakers like Derick Sherman, Alton Owens, and Demarcus Richardson, the Bulldogs will have plenty of firepower offensively. Along with that, the Bulldogs will see a Tiger defense that gave up 29.8 points per game last year.

Offensively the Tigers struggled, scoring just 18.2 a game last year and return just five starters. The offense will be centered around Treyvaun Crawford. The bruising running back led the team last year, and the team has high expectations for his potential. Nolan Hodge is a big target on the outside, as the Tigers still try to figure whether Grisham Vaught or Jace Stout will be throwing to Hodge.

Elkhart Elks (0-0, 0-0) vs. Shelbyville Dragons (0-0, 0-0)
Friday, Sept. 1, 7:30 p.m.
Dragon Stadium, Shelbyville, TX

One year ago, the Elkhart Elks went 5-5 and just missed out on the playoffs. Elks Head Coach Sam Wells looks to change that this year, as the Elks will kick off their 2017 campaign against the Shelbyville Dragons. Elkhart rolled to a 42-28 win in the season opener a year ago, but will see a much tougher test on the road against the Dragons.

Elkhart’s strength will come up front in the trenches with bruisers like Joe Benton and Jordan Mims paving the way. The duo graded highly a year ago and combined for 56 pancakes. That should pave the way for athletes like Jonathan Simmons and Trent Huff.


Shelbyville struggled a year ago with a young roster. Now the Dragons return 16 starters (8 offensively/8 defensively) including CJ Kirkwood and Kyle Dodd-Tindol. The Dragons averaged almost 20 points per game last year and expect to see that number rise.

Palestine Wildcats (0-0, 0-0) vs. Mabank Panthers (0-0, 0-0)
Friday, Sept. 1, 7:30 pm
Wildcat Stadium, Palestine, TX

Coming off a promising season, the Palestine Wildcats will look to take another step forward on Friday night when they host Mabank for their season opener. Last season the Wildcats took home a 21-7 thriller, and will look to maintain that recent success against the Panthers.


Palestine returns six starters from last years 5-5 squad, including quarterback Tyler Gray. Gray was a dynamic playmaker a year ago, and will look to lead an offense that is looking for a few new faces to lead the way. TJ Dever is a big target at tight end, and WR Josh Williams will give some speed on the edge to help the Wildcats in the season opener. Look for Isiah Thomas to lead the Wildcats ground game.


Defensively the Wildcats should be able to feast on a Panther team that averaged just 9.8 point per game a year ago. Mabank returns five starters including a pair of big offensive linement in Jacob Felts and Kolton Stephens, but will look to their youth for new playmakers this year.

Westwood Panthers (0-0, 0-0) vs. Frankston Indians (0-0, 0-0)
Friday, Sept. 1, 7:30 pm
Jeff and Opal Austin Stadium, Frankston, TX

In an Anderson County battle, the Westwood Panthers and Frankston Indians will kick off the 2017 season. It was a tumultuous off-season for the Indians, who went through three head coaches in a brief span. Now the Indians will look to put that behind them and move forward with a win over the Panthers in the season opener. Westwood rolled to a resounding 61-22 win in the season opener.



Frankston returns an astounding nine starters from a year ago, including quarterback Garrett Bean and Boogie Krajca. The duo put up big numbers a year ago, and look to do the same. Defensively the Indians are led by Drew Lewis, who will also see plenty of time at running back, as well as Jordan Pace.
Westwood on the other hand, started the season with a bang, but lost their last nine games of the year. It will be a complete rebuild for the Panthers, who return just six starters (three offensively/three defensively). One bright spot is the return of speedster JD CLewis at running back, who should help in the early goings of the season.

Cayuga Wildcats (0-0, 0-0) vs. Palmer Bulldogs (0-0, 0-0)
Friday, Sept. 1, 7:30 pm
Bulldog Stadium, Palmer, TX

With a strong recent history, the Cayuga Wildcats are looking to get back to the top of the heap in east Texas football. The Wildcats will get their start on the road Friday night when they travel to face the Palmer Bulldogs. Last year it was the Wildcats grinding out a 13-0 win in the season opener, and hope to have a similar result on Friday night.

In their way is a Palmer team that returns 14 starters (7 offensively/7 defensively).Quarterback Wesley Greenlee got his first start at quarterback a year ago, and returns this year as a seasoned veteran. Greenlee will have an absolute speedster in Dylan Villasenor on the outside to target.

Cayuga will be starting fresh after losing a large senior class resulting in just seven returning starters (3 offensively/4 defensively). One of those starters is the bruising running back Ryder Sparkman, who finished with over 1100 yards a year ago. Sparkman, along with Cody Hearrel (quarterback) played integral roles in the Wildcats playoff push a year ago, look for them to lead a young team early in the season.

Madisonville Mustangs (0-0, 0-0) vs. Teague Lions (0-0, 0-0)
Friday, Sept. 1, 7:30 pm
Mustang Stadium, Madisonville, TX

Originally, this game was never supposed to happen. Madisonville was scheduled to face Diboll and Teague was on pace to face Caldwell, but due to storms, both games were cancelled. Now, in a last minute fix, the nearby rivals were able to work out the scheduling to get the players much needed reps to start the season.

Teague returns 24 lettermen and 14 starters (9 offensively/5 defensively) from a team that went 10-3 and reached the Region III Semifinals a year ago. The strength of the Lions is in the trenches, as Teague is large and powerful in front. That paves the way for a strong contingent of running backs to run freely.

Madisonville on the other hand returns 19 starters (10 offensively/9 defensively) for the second

year of Coach Rusty Nail’s system. The Mustangs went just 3-8 in their first year under Coach Nail with a Bi-District appearance. Now, a year older and stronger, the Mustangs return more talent than anyone in the area including quarterback Ben Phillips, wide receivers Kendall Moffett and Johnny Simpson, as well as running back Aaron Nellums.

Groveton Indians (0-0, 0-0) vs. New Waverly Bulldogs (0-0, 0-0)

Due to inclement weather, the Indians season opener against New Waverly has been cancelled. No replacement game has been set as of press time.

Alto Yellowjackets (0-0, 0-0) vs. Winona Wildcats (0-0, 0-0)
Friday, Sept. 1, 7:30 pm
Yellowjacket Stadium, Alto, TX

2016 was a bit of a letdown for Alto standards. The Jackets went 7-4 with a loss in the first round of the playoffs. Now a year older and wiser, the Jackets will kick off the season against an upstart Winona team that caught fire late in the season. While the Jackets had their struggles, they didn’t struggle early after defeating Winona 58-32 in the season opener.

Alto will have plenty of weapons this year including quarterback Fred Thacker and wide receiver Jayren Whitaker. While Alto has always been strong with skilled players, this might be their deepest since the mid-2000’s, along with the offensive line that leads to championships.

In their way is a Winona team that went 8-6 and reached the DII Regional Semifinals a year ago. With a bevy of weapons including WR Keylon Kincade and RB Quindarius Johnson, the Wildcats have some offensive firepower that will test the Jackets defense.