Tigers dive into victory
Groom head coach Tory Peet had been imploring his dynamic spread back, Stephen Kuehler, to use his legs more in their District 1-1A Division II tilt with Silverton. With 7 seconds left, Kuehler heeded Peet’s advice to propel the Tigers (3-5, 2-0) to a 54-52 victory over No. 6 Silverton (5-3, 1-1) and gain the inside track to the district title. In a game that saw eight lead changes and a tie score early in the 3rd quarter, this contest came down to those final seven seconds and the playmaking of Kuehler. On a fourth and three from the Owl nine, Kuehler dropped back to pass and found no one open so he scrambled six yards to the Silverton three with 23 seconds left. After an incomplete pass, Kuehler found Greyson Peet on a short dump off pass, but the Owl defense converged quickly to spill Peet for a 1-yard loss and set up a 3rd and goal from the 4-yard line. Peet took his final time out and asked his team what they wanted to run. The Tigers said “Coach, the same thing we’ve been doing” and Peet responded by saying “OK, you have 7 seconds left. On that last play, Kuehler danced around in the pocket looking for someone open then took off towards the goal line. Sawyer Francis met him at the 3-yard line as Kuehler juked and became airborne landing just inside the plane of the goal for the winning score. That was the third rushing score of the night for the diminutive one who also had four passing touchdowns. For Silverton, Francis was almost unstoppable punching in six touchdowns on the night.
A piece of Six-Man football that is often lost on those who don’t follow the game is kicking. That was never more evident than Thursday’s clash between Silverton and Groom. Under Six-Man rules, once a touchdown is scored, a team can go for 1-point by running a normal offensive play or by kicking the extra-point for two points. This is the reverse of how it is scored in 11-man football. That 2-point conversion kick can go a long way in determining the outcome of a game as it did Thursday night. Silverton registered eight touchdowns on the evening and Groom only seven. However, Silverton was 1-of-6 on their 2-point conversion kicks and then opted to go for one on their last two scores and made both of those. Groom was 6-of-7 on kicks for the night. If you add that up that’s four points for the Owls and 12 for the Tigers. In a game that was decided by two points, that eight-point swing was huge in deciding the outcome of the game.
Week in review
The schedule was light as most teams had a bye this past week but a few teams were still in action. The No. 7 Happy Cowboys found themselves with their hands full to the No. 2-ranked team out of TAPPS Division III. Happy (6-1) and Lubbock Kingdom Prep (4-3) went back and forth for most of the first half before a 44-yard pick-six by Camden Sperry gave the Cowboys a 46-32 cushion and propelled them to a 78-38 win at the Cowboy Corral Friday night. Tryce Johnson and Joey Blackmon buoyed a strong running attack as they combined for 289 yards on 28 carries and five touchdowns. Follett used that same type of ground game to knock off Wildorado 60-14. Shayne Franks and David Meeks tallied seven scores on 16 carries for 218 yards. Topping things off was a wild one in Hedley as the Owls hung on at home to topple Lefors 65-63 and retain a shot at a playoff berth in District 1-1A Division II.
State recap: Another streak ends
Last week Richland Springs fell to Cherokee to snap their 21-year winning streak in district action. Friday night, Borden County saw a similar streak end as well. Garden City (2-0, 7-1) went into Gail and walked out with an 811-36 win over the Coyotes (0-1, 4-3), who saw their 15-year district winning streak snapped. The No. 3-ranked Bearkats led 36-30 at half but used a 37-point third quarter to put away any hopes the Coyotes had of pulling off an upset. In Oakwood, Zack Nickerson is putting up numbers that are simply eye popping. Two weeks ago, the Panthers spread back rushed for 489 yards and eight touchdowns in a loss to Leverett’s Chapel. Friday night, the Panthers beat Temple Centex Homeschool, 105-58, and Nickerson was at it again. The senior amassed 402 yards and 12 touchdowns. Nickerson has over 2,000 yards rushing on the season and nearly 50 touchdowns. Finally, as we enter the final three weeks of action, six teams in Division I (Gordon, Union Hill, Abbott, Irion County, May and Medina) remained undefeated. Only four teams (Sanderson, Benjamin, Oglesby, and Cherokee) sport an undefeated record in Division II. On the other side of the records, nine teams remain winless on the season. Lefors is the only local team in that category.
District action is upon us
Three districts with local school impacts start conference action this week. In District 1-1A Division I, Follett is the heavy favorite but the battle for second could be wild. McLean (6-1), Miami (5-2) and White Deer (5-2) will fight for that second spot with two solid teams on the outside looking in. All three teams have victories over three common opponents in Groom, Wildorado, and Amarillo PCHEA. The second spot will likely not be decided until the last week of play when Miami travels to White Deer. For District 2-1A Division I it looks like a battle between Happy and Nazareth for the title as both teams square off this week. Over in 4-1A Division I three teams are battling for two spots. Knox City, ranked No. 9, will be the favorites but Spur and Valley are both in the top 20. Valley’s 3-4 record is deceiving as they are getting healthy at the right time and could be a real threat if they get out of district.
Week 9 Action
If this was the NFL, the game of the week would be on Sunday Night Football for everyone to see. However, this one will occur in Castro County on Friday night as Happy travels 30 miles to take on their long-time rivals in Nazareth. Both teams have been eyeing this game since the start of the season and the winner likely takes the district title. Possessions will be at a premium as both teams like to ground their opponents in a strong running game. White Deer and McLean tussle at Duncan Field in Tiger territory looking to get a leg up in wide open race for a playoff spot. Valley goes south in search of a leg up in District 4-1A as they take on Spur. The key for the Patriots will be shutting down the Bulldogs all-everything spread back Cory Hamilton. Other games on the schedule include Miami at Follet, Claude at Wildorado, Hedley at Groom and the lone Thursday night matchup in Lefors between Silverton and Darrouzett.