PALESTINE – The final week of high school football preseason scrimmages are here. It is the final dress rehearsal for teams before they set foot towards their 2019 gridiron campaigns. Five area teams will participate in scrimmages tonight.
A few position battles still linger amongst several of the teams, which leaves space for coaches to make final decisions on their opening night depth chart. Here are tonight's final preseason matchups:
Palestine v. Athens
The Palestine Wildcats will scrimmage the Athens Hornets tonight at Wildcat Stadium. Junior Varsity will begin at 6 p.m. with varsity to follow at 7:15 p.m. Athens returned to the playoffs after a three-year hiatus from postseason play.
Athens showcased offensive firepower in 2018. Their 84-point performance against Bullard and a 62-point performance against Life Waxahachie solidified their 40 points per game average last season. Their ability to put up points was rewarded with six all-district first-team selections – five of which will be returning. District 9-4A Sophomore of the Year Nathan Sims [stats] earned second-team all-state honors from the Texas Sports Writers Association in 2018 and will surely have a larger role in 2019.
What plagued the Hornets was their inability to stop opposing offenses. They gave up nearly 42 points per game, with their final two opponents outscoring them 97-27. Already being a struggling unit, it will be interesting to see how Athens will replace all five of their first-team all-district players this year.
Westwood at Carlisle
Westwood travels to Carlisle High School for a 6 p.m. scrimmage against the Indians. Carlisle has enjoyed a regional playoff appearance four of the last five seasons. The Indians are coming off of a 12-1 seasons in which they went undefeated in district play.
The Indians will welcome in their next group of leading athletes as they lost multiple skill position players to graduation, including District MVP Gerald Turner, Offensive MVP Jay Price and Co-Defensive MVP Walker Adams.
Sophomore running back Jamion Turner, who was a first-team all-district selection, will return behind a fairly new offensive line. The Indians nearly averaged 50 points per game in 2018, while only giving up less than 12 points a game. The defense also posted four shutouts during the regular season before a 35-14 loss to Tenaha took them out the playoffs.
Elkhart at Arp
Elkhart Head Coach Jason Fiacco is “fired up” over the job his coaches did in their first scrimmage against Mildred last week. Explosive offensive plays highlighted their win over Mildred and they will see if they can replicate that against an Arp team who struggled at times to slow down offenses last year. Their 3-7 season in 2018 and a 4-6 season in 2017 were major steps down from their 12-3 2016 season. Coach Fiacco held a few of his guys out in their first scrimmage, so a few new faces may see action tonight. Junior Varsity gets going at 6 p.m. Varsity is to follow.
Frankston v. Hawkins
Frankston will return to their home field tonight to take on Hawkins. It's been two seasons since Frankston has seen postseason play. Hawkins is also coming off a troubling year that saw them go winless in district play. Frankston is set to start their final preseason game at 6 p.m. tonight.
Cayuga at Mildred
Cayuga's first scrimmage showed both sides of their line can be “dominate.” Head Coach Cody Mohan noted that all his linemen impressed last week. Mildred seemed to have a tough bout containing the run game of Elkhart last week. Tonight's 6 p.m. matchup will show how they fair against Cayuga's “smash mouth” offensive gameplan.
Grapeland vs. Trinity
Grapeland's football program has captured state-wide attention after their 12-2 season. They have one final dress rehearsal tonight before they begin their quest for another postseason appearance. Scrimmage is set to begin at 6 p.