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Playoff Picture Comes into Focus

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Week Nine Preview

By Will Johnson

Messenger Review

EAST TEXAS – The week nine slate of games should bring some clarity to the playoff picture for most of the area teams. For some, a win will clinch a playoff berth while for others, it will improve a seeding in the postseason. Still others will start looking ahead to the 2021 season in order to see what they have coming back.

Grapeland Sandies (6-2, 2-1) vs. Centerville Tigers (6-2, 2-1) – The Grapeland Sandies will hit the road on Friday as they travel to Centerville to take on the Tigers. Grapeland QB BJ Lamb was out last week against the Normangee Panthers and his absence showed. The senior signal-caller may be back this week and if he is, that will be a big plus for the offense as the Sandies used three different QBs in the loss to the Panthers.

Defensively, Grapeland needs to tackle better and wrap-up on contact. This is especially true when dealing with the Tigers’ Dillon Denmon who is one of the better athletes in District 11-2A DI.

Both teams defeated Alto and Groveton, but Centerville needed a last second score in Groveton to take down the Indians. Whoever wins has the inside track to a second place seeding but between the Sandies, the Tigers and the Leon Cougars, the second through four seeds are still up for grabs. With their lopsided win over a good Grapeland team last Friday, Normangee showed they will likely take the district crown.

Diboll Lumberjacks (4-3, 4-0) vs. Crockett Bulldogs (5-2, 3-0) – Thisgame will most likely be for the District 9-3A DI championship. Both teams come into the game undefeated in district play and have shown they can put up big numbers on the offensive side of the ball. The question is going to be which defense steps up?

Jadyn Collins will lead a balanced Bulldogs’ attack that has multiple weapons in Ty White, Randy Jones, Ja’Lyne Carruthers and Keshun Easterling. Diboll will be led by the rushing of Jeremiah Gums who is listed at 5’10”, 270 lbs. and sliced through the Crockett D last year like a hot-knife through butter.

If Crockett is to have a chance, AJ Wallace, Demuntreon Bedford and Chris Purvis-Torres are going to have to play big. Diboll will be favored, but the leadership Collins has shown so far this year will help the game close. If it comes down to kicking, look for Crockett’s Antonio Cruz to come up big.   

Mt. Enterprise Wildcats (1-6, 1-2) vs. Lovelady Lions (3-4, 2-1) – The Lovelady Lions picked up a big win on the road last week as they defeated a much improved West Hardin team. This week they should have a fairly easy time when the Mt. Enterprise Wildcats come calling.

The Lions’ offense is starting to gel and their defense is becoming a force to be reckoned with. The Wildcats, on the other hand are struggling this year as their lone victory was a defeat of a not very good Overton team.

The Lions should win this won handily and keep a solid hold on the second playoff seed from District 11-2A DII.

Trinity Tigers (3-4, 1-2) vs. Elkhart Elks (0-8, 0-3) – The Elks have two chances left to salvage an otherwise bleak season. Elkhart started off with a lot of potential this year and had been picked by many to reach the postseason. Unfortunately, injuries, personnel matters and COVID-19 have taken their toll.

The Elks will try and end Coach Luke Goode’s first season in Elkhart on a positive note as they take on a Trinity Tigers team that is on the rise. After going 1-10 last year, the Tigers have already exceeded their win total from the previous season.

A win by the Tigers keeps their slim playoff chances alive but don’t expect the Elks to just roll over.

Coldspring-Oakhurst Trojans (5-2, 2-1) vs. Westwood Panthers (3-4, 1-2) – This should be a very interesting game. Westwood is in the hunt for a playoff spot for the first time in several years. Coy Elton and Kylance Parrish have had break out years for Westwood.

The Trojans, on the other hand, have had questions raised about their performance following a loss to Huntington. Coldspring slaughtered Trinity who in turn handled the Red Devils. Who’d thunk it? Westwood will put up a fight but it really is a question of which squad of Trojans shows up at Panther Stadium.

Athens Hornets (4-3, 0-3) vs. Palestine Wildcats (5-3, 3-1) – A win by the Wildcats will likely secure the third place seed out of District 9-4A DI. Palestine will face an Athens squad that looked good up until league play started.

Expect the Wildcats to dominate this game, solidify their playoff positioning and return to the postseason where they made it to the Regional Quarterfinals last year.  

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.

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