By JUSTIN RAINS
Both Oakwood and Apple Springs have locked up playoff spots heading into the season’s final week, but don’t expect the game on the field to reflect that.
The Eagles come into Panther Field (Holly St. at Knowles St., Oakwood, Texas 75855) unbeaten, and wanting what the Panthers have called their own the past two seasons: The district title.
“We’ve talked about it all week,” OHS coach Mike Heckathorn said. “This is our district championship that they’re trying to take from us, and we need to defend it.”
Kick-off is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday.
If Oakwood can win, the team will secure its third-straight district title.
The game also has playoff implications as far as first round matchups go. The winner of this game faces Fannindel, while the loser faces Leverett’s Chapel.
The Panthers and Eagles are no strangers, as the two shared a district in the last realignment as well.
Oakwood blanked the Eagles, 46-0, last year in a game in which the Panther defense shined.
“We just need to play defense with the intensity that we have the last couple of weeks,” Heckathorn said. “If we do that we’ll be okay. We need to create turnovers. It was big in our game with them last year.
“We created some turnovers early that gave us a leg-up on them last year.”
Heckathorn said he isn’t worried about his high-powered attack moving the ball on Apple Springs.
After some mid-season struggles — Oakwood lost two of three in late September-early October — the Panthers have regained their form.
The team has won three-straight, and Heckathorn certainly doesn’t want that streak to end right before the playoffs.
“We’ve got some momentum going and we need to keep it going,” he said. “We’ve been having good workouts this week, and we’re looking forward to more.”
CAYUGA at Dallas Gateway
There a lot of playoff scenarios involving the Cayuga football team heading into the final game of the season.
But, in the end, it boils down to this: Win and your in.
If Cayuga beats Dallas Gateway Friday at Gateway Field (1015 East Wheatland Road, Dallas, Texas 75241), then the Wildcats are in the playoffs.
There are plenty of other ways that Cayuga could get in — or stay home ‚ but CHS coach Greg Jenkins is choosing to focus on one: Winning.
“The bottom line is we’ve treated it like a playoff game all week,” he said. “If that’s not enough of a motivating factor, there’s not a whole lot we can do or say to them.”
He said that should help avoid any lingering effects the trip — which totals just under 83 miles — might have on the team.
He’s also cautioned his team that, despite what they might have heard, Gateway (4-5, 2-3) is a good team.
“They got kids they can play all over the field,” he said. “We just hope this is not the game where they put it all together and then we lay an egg.”
Cayuga will once again be without running back D’onte Jackson, but Wesley Rigdon filled in nicely for Jackson against Cross Roads.
Rigdon ran for 127 yards and four touchdowns in the blowout win.
Kick-off is set for 7:30 p.m.
FRANKSTON at West Rusk
With last Friday’s loss to Garrison and the subsequent Winona victory, the Frankston Indians saw their playoff hopes extinguished.
But, FHS coach Matt Nally said that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to play for. Namely, Frankston’s seniors, who’ll suit up for their final game Friday when the Indians travel to West Rusk’s Bruce Bradshaw Stadium (School St. at Burnett St., New London, Texas 75682)
“The great thing about it is this: We’ve got really good kids here and the kids that we have, they understand the situation at hand,” Nally said. “We’re going over there to win the ballgame and it has nothing to do with the playoffs or anything, we’re playing for pride and we’re playing for our seniors.”
Frankston can also play the role of spoiler, because a West Rusk win means that Winona would only get in with a victory over district-leading Arp. A Frankston win puts Winona in.
Kick-off is set for 7:30 p.m.
West Sabine at GRAPELAND
Also possibly playing spoiler will be Grapeland, which was eliminated from playoff contention with last week’s 36-30 loss to Shelbyville.
The Sandies (2-7, 1-3) welcome in West Sabine (7-2, 2-2) to Sandies Stadium (N. Olive St. at FM 1272, Grapeland, Texas 75844), which hasn’t yet wrapped up a playoff spot.
To do that, West Sabine must beat Grapeland, or hope that Shelbyville falls to Alto.
Grapeland got a big performance from freshman quarterback Faulk Jacques in the loss to the Dragons.
The freshman threw for 171 yards and two touchdowns in the victory.
Sports editor Justin Rains can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org