This is extremely fun.
Gordon and Strawn both won again last week in their respective six man divisions in the state quarterfinals, and I have to tell you I am enjoying the ride.
The Longhorns stopped the six man version of “Johnny Football” – Santa Anna spread back Michael Valencia – and the Mountaineers in a convincing 70-35 win that nearly had a 45-point mercy-rule ending early in the third quarter.
The Greyhounds had to beat Newcastle again – and this time it was against a healthy Bobcats’ squad – as Strawn outlasted their Young County opponents, 52-42.
Gordon and Strawn will advance to their respective state semifinal games, and for fans of the six-man game the schools are offering an early football Christmas present - both games will be played Saturday in Hico.
Strawn and No. 1 Richland Springs will kickoff at 2 p.m. in the Division II state semifinals at Tiger Stadium, and at 7 p.m. at the same venue Gordon will do battle with Abbott in the Division I state semifinals. Talk about “Super Saturday.”
And if both Strawn and Gordon win, the state championship games will be at Shotwell Stadium in Abilene a week later (Saturday, Dec. 15) with the same 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. kickoff times.
Gordon did a magnificent job of handling Valencia, who had 2,693 rushing yards and 872 passing yards while scoring 67 touchdowns coming into last Friday’s game.
The ‘Horns held Valencia to just under his season rushing average, and after he had suffered an ankle injury he just wasn’t the same as he valiantly came back into the game.
Gordon displayed crisp and sure tackling, showing the football world that the keys to winning any football game at any level is with fundamentally-sound tackling and solid blocking.
But with all winning teams, they need stars. Gordon is a team full of stars, but one that blossomed in the state quarterfinals was Michael Cherry, who accounted for eight touchdowns. He scored four times on the ground, threw for three more touchdowns and caught a TD pass.
My vote for “Coach of the Year” goes to Gordon’s Shane Mallory. The ‘Horns were 1-9 after his first season at Gordon, and now three years later are one game away from playing for a state championship.
Over at Strawn, which had to win a tough game over a well-coached Newcastle team (it is not easy to beat a good team twice in one season), they aren’t satisfied in the least with earning a trip to the state semis.
I love what senior running back Bobby Wells told the media following the Greyhounds’ win last Friday.
“We didn’t play as well as we would have liked,” Wells said moments after the game. “We won, but we should have played better. We just gave up too much in the second half.”
Wow. I believe Wells represents the winning attitude at Strawn. They know they will have to be playing at their best to beat a team like Richland Springs, a team ranked No. 1 (sixmanfootball.com) and a school that has won the past two state championships and on a 43-game winning streak.
Which was the last team to beat Richland Springs?
Strawn, in the 2009 state quarterfinals.
It would be easy to say because Richland Springs defeated Gordon soundly earlier in the year and Strawn lost to Gordon that RS will win easily.
But not so fast. Gordon had some key injuries in the RS game, and by the time the ‘Horns faced Strawn they were completely healthy.
I am sure RS will be favored in this game, but that doesn’t matter to the Strawn players or head coach Dewayne Lee, another “Coach of the Year” candidate in my mind.
Strawn knows if it outworks any opponent – and they usually do – they have a chance to win the game.
In what will be certainly the “real Super Saturday” this week in Hico, it is quite possible Palo Pinto County will field two state-finalist teams in the same year for the first time in history.
Is it Saturday yet?