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It Only Gets Harder From Here

By Chris Boothe
Messenger Sports

With over half of the football teams around the state done for the season, only the best are still standing. Now the cream will rise to the top, as the road to Arlington kicks off this week. All three Houston County teams find themselves in the playoffs, and hungry for a state championship. The road will be hard, but it is a challenge that young men fight for each and every season. Here is a look at this week’s action.

#6 Grapeland Sandies (9-1, 5-0) vs. Hubbard Jaguars (6-4, 3-2)
Friday, November 16, 7:00 pm
Bruce Field, Athens, TX

The Grapeland Sandies are rolling. After a 63-35 win over Legacy School for Sports Science, the Sandies are warmed up and ready for their playoff run. First up will be the fourth place team from 11-2A-DII, the Hubbard Jaguars.

Hubbard ended the season on a bit of a hot streak, winning three of their last four games, including back-to-back wins to end the season. A 14-6 win over Meridian and a 41-6 win over Wortham have the Jaguars feeling confident going into the playoffs. That confidence is much needed following a 66-0 loss to #2 Mart three weeks ago. Hubbard is a younger team chalked full of underclassmen, and are led by junior quarterback Logan Morris. Morris helps engineer an offense that averages 21.6 points per game.

Defensively the Jaguars give up 20 points a game this year with a season best being a 43-0 shutout of Cross Roads.

Crockett Bulldogs (7-3, 4-2) vs. East Chambers Buccaneers (9-1, 6-1)
Thursday, November 15, 7:00 pm
Eagle Stadium, Woodville, TX

The Crockett Bulldogs weren’t able to end the regular season the way they wanted, falling to Franklin 73-28 in their finale. Fortunately, the regular season is over and it is time for the playoffs. The downside of that is Crockett will face one of the toughest first round opponents in Bi-District play. The East Chambers Buccaneers finished the regular season 9-1, with their lone loss coming in their district opener, when Woodville picked up a 42-31 decision.

Since then the Buccaneers have run off six straight wins, all of which have come in emphatic fashion. The Buccaneers have not had a game closer than a 49-28 win over Kirbyville a month ago.

The Buccaneers are a running team with the ability to pass the ball when needed, averaging 260 yards on the ground and 125 passing. The ground attack is led by sophomore Ernest Cesar (937 yards – 17 TD) and junior Nolton Shelvin (800 yards – 16 TD). The underclassmen tandem have wreaked havoc on opposing defenses throughout the season.

#8 Lovelady Lions (7-2, 4-1) vs. Dawson Bulldogs (5-4, 3-2)
Thursday, November 15, 7:30 pm
Mustang Stadium, Madisonville, TX

Lovelady was able to bounce back from their lone district loss and win out to clinch the #2 seed in 12-2A-DII. Their prize? A showdown against a Dawson Bulldog team that has had their fair share of ups and downs throughout the district season. The final stretch was more down than up, as Dawson lost two of their last three games before crawling into the playoffs.

In their finale, Dawson was able to break a two game skid and defeat the Wortham Bulldogs 28-12. That will give the running Bulldogs some momentum going into the playoffs.

Dawson does almost all of their damage on the ground, averaging 161 yards rushing compared to just 20 yards passing. The Bulldogs have five players with over 100 yards rushing and junior Jakoby Moore (606 yards – 7 TD) leading the way. Brendan Horner is the closest with 347 yards and three touchdowns on the season.