By JUSTIN RAINS
Frankston football coach Matt Nally thinks his football team is rounding into form at just the right time.
After a brutal non-district schedule left the Indians 1-3 heading into league play, Frankston opened up district play in a big way last Friday, topping Union Grove, 48-8.
Now, the Indians hit the road to take on perennial power and preseason district favorite, Arp, which currently sits atop the district at 2-0.
“It’s going to be a big game,” Nally said. “Everyone, coming in, had Arp at the top or the pinnacle of the district, and we’re going to try to compete and give ourselves and chance to win the game.”
The Tigers have lost only twice in 2012, to state-ranked Tatum (No. 7 in latest AP poll) and Troup (No. 12).
After sputtering, at times, in the first four games, the Frankston offense showed that it might have turned a corner during its bye week in the win over Union Grove.
The Indians racked up nearly 600 yards of total offense, more than 350 of which was on the ground.
Leading that charge was sophomore quarterback Ozzie Buckner, who has seemed to embrace his role as the Indians’ leader under center.
Not bad for a player that thought he was going to be the backup as far back as two-a-days.
“The coaching staff has a great deal of confidence in Ozzie and he’s gotten better each week,” Nally said. “You can’t ask much more from a sophomore quarterback. With Ozzie I think its just one game at a time, and I think that his confidence level is high.
“But, at the same time, he’s humble and understands that we have a game Friday night.”
Buckner did it both on the ground and through the air for the Indians against Union Grove. He ran for a team-high 167 yards and two touchdowns on only nine carries, while also throwing for 207 yards and two scores.
It was Buckner’s first game over 200 yards passing for the Indians, who also got 131 yards and a touchdown from running back Caleb Williams.
“Offensively, we knew that we were going to be in a transition period, so it was going to take some time for the offense to kick off,” Nally said. “We’ve gotten so much better week-by-week. We put in some new schemes, some wrinkles, over the bye and its really helped us out.”
The key in the matchup up with Arp, Nally said, will be winning the battles in the trenches.
The Tigers run an option-based offensive system, and they run it well. On the year, Arp is averaging more than 270 yards per game on the ground, while scoring more than 31 points per game.
Led by Marcalas Johnson’s 99.6 yards per game, Arp has three players averaging more than 65 yards per contest.
“The big matchup is the line of scrimmage, up front,” Nally said. “Our offensive and defensive front against theirs. We feel like we’ve got a great front, but our kids have to do their job.
“If our kids don’t do our jobs, we’re going to be in trouble. They run that so well and they’re so fast.”
Kick-off is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Arp’s Bill Herrington Tiger Stadium (420 E. Front St., Arp, Texas 75750).
GRAPELAND at San Augustine
The Grapeland football team enters play in the brutally tough District 10-A, Division I Friday with a trip to San Augustine.
The Wolves enter the game at 3-2, having lost to Tyler Grace Community to and Class 2A Garrison.
San Augustine is coming off of a 38-33 victory over defending state champion Tenaha last Friday.
Grapeland enters the game losers of two-straight, the last of which came at the hands of Leon, 42-34.
In that game, the Sandies gave up 22 second quarter points that allowed the Cougars to build a lead Grapeland couldn’t come back from in the end.
With the district’s top-two teams — West Sabine and Alto — ranked in this week’s Associated Press top-10, this matchup appears to be a separation game for the two teams currently in third and fourth in the district standings.
Kick-off is set for 7:30 p.m. at San Augustine’s Wolf Stadium (N. Milam St. at Hilltop Road, San Augustine, Texas 75972).
Sports editor Justin Rains can be reached via email at email@example.com