By JUSTIN RAINS
The Palestine football team responded to its second loss of the season much like it did its first, with a blowout victory.
Now, PHS coach Lance Angel is hoping his team can replicate the success from last Friday’s victory over Athens this coming Friday, when the Wildcats make the long trek to Camp County to take on Pittsburg.
Kick-off is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Pittsburg’s Pirate Stadium (300 N. Texas St., Pittsburg, Texas, 75686).
While last week’s 49-0 rout of Athens was good for his team’s confidence, Angel doesn’t think it will swell his players heads too much.
“I think, still, we learned our lesson the week of Chapel Hill,” he said. “We’re back to having some confidence but I don’t think that we’re overconfident. We learned our lesson. We had great week of practice against Athens and this week has been no different.”
No player had a bigger game against Athens for Palestine than sophomore quarterback Gee Clark. Clark threw for more than 200 yards and three touchdowns in his biggest day under center.
Angel said he thinks that’ll only help Clark as he grows moving forward.
“A young quarterback needs a game like that and not every quarterback is capable of a game like that,” Angel said. “I think for Gee to know and have some confidence in himself and the o-line and receivers, it’ll help us down the road.”
That said, Angel also cautioned that Clark is still only a sophomore, and Friday will still only be his fourth start at the varsity level.
“He’s still young and there will be times when he makes young quarterback mistakes, but I think there will be a lot of times where you see what you saw Friday,” Angel said.
The Pirates will throw a lot of things at Clark defensively, including some exotic looks that he might have never seen before.
Pittsburg is big up front, and prone to making big plays in opponents backfields. Angel said his team has to be ready to weather those plays, and counter with big plays of its own.
“They’re going to have some big plays against us defensively, but, at times, if we can crease them we feel like we can get some big runs,” Angel said. “It’ll be a night when we have some patience.”
“Creasing” would be a perfect term for what Palestine was able to do against Athens, as the Wildcats ran for 237 yards on only 25 carries last Friday.
Ben Luckett had the best of the big plays, rushing for 111 yards and three touchdowns on only four carries.
Luckett, Darius Stephens and the other running backs may or may not again be without power back Jarrell Owens in the backfield with them. Owens has missed the last two games, and Angel is calling him “day-to-day.”
Offensively, the Pirates present the first true passing threat the Wildcats will have seen this season — not counting Jacksonville, which was without its starting quarterback.
Angel said the Pirates like to throw the ball up to “70 percent” of the time, and called the Pirates quarterback “the best we’ve seen this season.”
“They’re going to sling it and spread it around and we’ve got to have our athletes in space make plays and have to have pressure from the d-line,” Angel said.
And how does he think his defensive backs, who have had their ups and downs this season, fare against the attack?
“I think it’ll be a big night,” he said. “It’s tough being a secondary player...because at times in games, not every play is going to be perfect. They’re going to have to put a bad play behind them and come back and expect good things to happen.”
Even though the Pirates enter the game 1-3 overall and losers of three-straight, Angel is telling his team not to overlook them.
He said he’s reminding them that this is a team that Palestine has never beaten under his direction, and a team that held off a late Palestine comeback last season to win, 33-28.
“It’s important and we’ve preached to the kids all week that, despite Pittsburg’s record at this point, we’re 0-2 against them,” he said. “It’s kind of a game that we want to go out there and beat somebody that we haven’t beaten before.”
THIS WEEK IN PHS HISTORY
Oct. 16, 2009 — Quarterback Olin Terry rushes for a school-record six touchdowns as the Wildcats moved to 2-0 in district play and 4-3 overall with a 54-35 victory over Crockett at Wildcat Stadium.
All season long, the Herald-Press is helping Palestine celebrate 100 years of football by recalling some of the greatest moments in program history. Have a moment you want to share? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor’s Note: This memory is a week early, but because of the bye week for Palestine next week, is being used this week.
Sports editor Justin Rains can be reached via email at email@example.com