By CLINT FOSTER
It’s gut check time for the Community Christian School Warriors.
Sitting at 4-4 after an 84-38 loss to TCAF District 3 favorites, the Azle Christian Fighting Crusaders (6-1-1), CCS’ collective backs are against the wall as the Warriors need to win both of their final two games to break any ties and reach their goal of a playoff berth.
First up is today’s long trip to Sterling City – between Midland and San Angelo – for a neutral-site game against the El Paso Immanuel Christian Warriors at 7 p.m. in Sterling City High School’s Eagle Stadium. Head coach Bryan Horton’s message to his team is clear.
“It’s coach speak to a certain extent, but the playoffs start now,” he said. “We have to win this game or we’re not playing for much next week.”
Against Azle Christian, CCS was brought back to ground level after flying high from a three-game winning streak, losing by more than 45 points for only the second time this season. The Warriors knew Azle would score points, but the death knell in the loss was the Crusaders’ ability to stuff the CCS running game that they have relied so heavily on this year.
Lead-blocker Sammy Brazeal came into the game banged up and, try as he might, freshman phenom Levi Knowles could not get into a rhythm carrying the ball, rushing 10 times for just 35 yards – his first sub-100-yard rushing game in four weeks and third this season.
Horton said blocking issues were the prime culprit, forcing Knowles to stretch plays outside and fight for every yard. The Warriors found themselves down 34-0 before they were able to reach the endzone for the first time.
“We really didn’t run the ball like we wanted to,” Horton said plainly. “Obviously Azle’s a good team, they were ready for it. They geared up to stop it and we didn’t respond real well to that. I felt like there were some things that happened against Azle that were uncharacteristic of us. Blocking issues (are) not who we are.”