By RUSSELL HUFFMAN
A football event rarer than a hen’s tooth is taking place Thanksgiving Day in Hico as the 71st meeting between No. 4 Gordon and No. 5 Strawn for the Region 3 title is only the second time the two teams have met in the postseason.
The last time that happened was in 2008 during the Greyhounds’ state title season when Gordon beat them in district play 60-30 only to have Strawn come back in the regional finals 89-58.
This year’s meeting between the two teams was a lot closer game with Gordon beating Strawn 27-26 at Longhorn Stadium.
Gordon’s 2008 victory was also a home affair. That fact alone will lead some football fans to wonder how well both teams will do when they play at a neutral site like Hico?
Strawn fans are hoping history will repeat itself while Gordon’s crowds of followers want the Longhorns to advance to the state-semi finals. The winner will take on the victor of the Oakwood (8-4) and Richland Springs’ (11-0) game that is being played Friday night.
The two teams have both struggled through adversity, and both have been without the services of all-star athletes. Strawn suffered the loss of JW Montgomery due to a broken wrist, and the senior has only been back for two games but has shown progress in both playoff wins.
The Greyhounds were without Montgomery’s passing against Gordon because he was still wearing a wrist brace. Last week, Montgomery threw straight touchdowns to show he was fully ready for action.
Gordon’s adversity has come at the wrong time with running back Hoss Rouse (Is there a better name for a football player?) sidelined by injury for their first two playoff games.
Rouse has been the Longhorn’s workhorse and leads the team in carries with 102 rushes through 10 games for 825 yards and 25 touchdowns. Rouse also has 236 yards receiving on 19 receptions. It was unknown at press time whether Rouse and defender and wide receiver Tyler Wyatt will be medically released to play Thursday,
Rouse has more than 1,000 yards to his credit, and while he may be a massive part of Gordon’s offense, he’s by no means the Longhorns’ only weapon because the Longhorns have more than 4,000 yards of offense this season.
Quarterback Brandon Mahan has 827 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns on the ground, and he’s thrown for 994 yards through the air, and he has 15 of the Longhorns’ 21 passing scores.
While fans always get enamored with offensive statistics in six-man football, the true tale of the tape between these two teams is their freak-nasty defensive schemes that feature everything from hidden stunts to full-out bull-rush blitzing on any given down.
The Region 3 final should boil down to coaching in a chess-match type game where Reed and Lee may not have all their board pieces to start the game. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Thanksgiving night.
Editor’s notes: This the 71st time the two teams have met since first playing in 1923-24 again in 1938-39 and 1944-46. Since 1957, the two schools have played every year, and there have been three ties with a 12-12 affair in 1960, a scoreless 0-0 mark in 1972, and 30-30 score in 1987.