By JUSTIN RAINS
Any game in district play is a big one. Any district opener is probably that much bigger.
But, with district favorites Franklin and Teague waiting on the other side, Friday’s district-opener in Crockett is made that much bigger for Elkhart.
The Elks (1-4) travel to winless Crockett (0-5) Friday for a 7:30 p.m. kick-off at Monte Jack Driskell Stadium.
“It’s huge. Any time you start district you want to start on the right foot and start out 1-0,” EHS coach Sam Wells said. “Going in, after pre-district, you have to say that Franklin and Teague are, probably, the top two teams.
“But, to us, every district game is a big game. This is by far the most important because its the one we’re playing this week.”
The last time fans saw the Elks, they were staying with Class 1A No. 5 Joaquin in the first half of what became a 46-21 loss Sept. 28.
The Rams only led 22-21 at the half, however, but the Elks only ran nine second half plays.
“The big thing, against Joaquin, the first half we controlled the ball and kept it away from them pretty good,” Wells said. “We ran a lot of plays the first half. We only had nine offensive plays the second half. We weren’t able to maintain anything and that put us in a bind with what we wanted to do.”
The Bulldogs have losses to state-ranked Lexington as well as Class 3A teams Madisonville and Rusk on their resume.
Wells described Crockett as a young team prone to occasional mistakes, and said he hopes his team can take advantage if the Bulldogs make those mistakes Friday.
“Obviously, Crockett is very talented...but they’re just young it looks like,” he said. “They’ve got some tremendous players, and if they get it together they can be a big force.”
The Elks will try to get back to their bread-and-butter, running the football, against Crockett, who enters the game winless after a tough non-district slate.
That should include kick-starting star running back Jeffrey Wilson again after Joaquin held the junior to only 53 yards on the ground — his only game this season under 100 yards.
But, quarterback Kevin Kidd had a big day running the ball against the Rams, rushing for 122 yards, meaning that Elkhart could be twice as dangerous if both get going.
“We’ve got to keep doing what we’ve been doing, being able to run the football,” Wells said. “We’ve got to be more efficient in our throwing game and, the big thing for us is protecting the ball and not get into long situations.
“If we can do that, we should be in great shape.”
Sports editor Justin Rains can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org