By JUSTIN RAINS
Any time Cayuga and Kerens get together, in any sport, its considered a big game.
Separated by less than 25 miles, the two schools are natural rivals, and that rivalry has grown in recent years as games between the two have become more competitive.
Now, as the pair get set to match-up Friday at Scarborough Stadium (Hwy. 287, Bethel, Texas 75832), there’s even more on the line: Gaining early hold of the lead in District 6-A, Division I.
Needless to say, no extra motivation needed.
“All you have to do, really, is look on the schedule and it says Cayuga-Kerens, and that’s it,” CHS coach Greg Jenkins said. “That’s all you need to know. Lately, it’s been a great competitive match and we respect them and I think they respect us.
“Having said that, (the players) understand what’s at stake. We don’t lie to them...we’ve circled this one from Day 1. We thought this is possibly the game that could make-or-break our season.”
Kerens and Cayuga have seemingly set themselves apart from the pack during non-district, with the Wildcats the only team above .500 in the district.
But, both teams are coming off losses in their last games, with Cayuga falling to state-ranked Carlisle, 20-13, on Sept. 28 before their bye week.
Kerens bye week came on Sept. 28, and the Bobcats fell to Hubbard, 24-8, last week.
After the loss to the Indians’ last time out, Jenkins said his team is ready for a break.
“The kids needed a break, because they’re the hardest working group we’ve had,” he said. “We thought last week’s bye came at the perfect time, giving us a nice break before district.”
The two teams should look similar on the field, with both offenses running similar styles.
Where Jenkins thinks his team can set itself apart is on the defensive side of the ball, where he likes the Wildcats’ growth since the beginning of the second half against Mount Enterprise.
Since then (three-and-a-half games), Cayuga has allowed only 34 points.
“We think that where we’ve grown as a football team is defensively,” Jenkins said. “We’re gang tackling, we’re running to the football. We’ve made the game simple for the kids. We’ve told them, ‘On offense you execute, on defense you tackle.’”
That’s not to say that stopping the Bobcats will be easy, Jenkins said.
“I told the kids today, and it might have hurt their feelings, but they’ve probably got skill kids that would play for our football team,” he said. “To me, that speaks volumes to how good they are.”
Offensively, Jenkins hoping his team can rebound from a tough outing against Carlisle.
The Wildcats outgained the Indians in the game, and put up 280 yards of total offense. But, that number is well below the team’s season average (416.6 yards per game).
What Jenkins did like was that the Indians punched Cayuga in the mouth, and now the team knows it’s not invincible. He said he thinks that will help in the long run.
“It was a good learning experience for us going into district,” he said. “What we were doing, we were doing what we wanted at will. So now, somebody has come up with a gameplan on how they’re going to stop us.”
Kick-off Friday is set for 7:30 p.m., and both teams will wear pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Both coaching staffs’ shirts will be pink, while Cayuga players will wear black socks with pink breast cancer emblems on them.
Sports editor Justin Rains can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org