There's no question how fluid the game of football is. To believe you can predict the outcome of every game would be foolish. And it would take away the thrill of experiencing the ups and downs that come with high school sports. The first week gave Anderson county that. Now, it is time for chapter two.
Palestine vs. Jacksonville
PALESTINE – Palestine will host the Jacksonville Indians today at 7:30 p.m., with both teams attempting to recover from season-opening losses last week to their respective opponents.
The Indians were shutout (48-0) against Palestine's district foe, Carthage. And a competitive first-half for Palestine against Waco Connelly resulted in a 46-27 final.
For Palestine coach Lance Angel, it's a process that he is confident his players will continue to get better at each week. The team has emphasized following the fundamentals and not worrying about doing another player's job.
“Football players are pretty resilient,” Angel said. “The key is to put that last game behind you. This game is the most important game of the year because it's the one we have this week.”
Conditioning is also an area coach Angel expects to see improvement in heading into their second week. Palestine entered halftime tied 20-20 with Waco Connelly, but as the game wore on the physical nature of the Cadets' offense appeared to wear on the Wildcats' defense.
“We got gassed, but that's to be expected first ball game,” Angel said. “We have a lot of guys going both ways. It takes a game, or two, to get in condition. No matter how much running you do.”
Coach Angel stressed the importance of staying in front of the chains. In their run-oriented offense, they must lower the amount of negative offensive plays they had in week 1. It's also something Jacksonville will look to improve on this week as they only managed five total first downs against Carthage.
“Some of it was our execution and some were mental penalties.,” Angel said. We have to have that mindset of a two-yard gain does not [always] mean you lost that play.”
Leading their offensive attack will be seniors Chris Carpenter and Aaron Richardson. Neither had productive games in their opener, but with 40 times of 4.4 and 4.5, respectively, they're more than capable of showcasing their big-play potential against Palestine.
“Their receivers have a lot of speed, which is always a concern,” Angel said. “But in this part of the state, you're going to face that every week. We have to play sound, solid and disciplined defense.”
Westwood at Buffalo
BUFFALO – Another case of two teams searching for their first win of the season will take place tonight on Buffalo's home field. Westwood lost a close bout (28-20) against Alto last week, while Buffalo was outscored (44-21) in their opener against Crockett. A balanced attack from Buffalo wasn't enough to open the season with a win, but it did show why Texas Football predicted they would clinch their division. 266 yards passing and 213 yards rushing proved the Bison can attack you on multiple fronts, but where Westwood will turn its focus towards is wide receiver Jamaul Randle, who went for 150 yards receiving on seven catches.
However, first-game nerves from Westwood's Dalton Brooks and cramping from Tremelle Rhodes possibly limited the Panthers offense during the first week. Rhodes finished the game with 175 yards rushing but could have eclipsed the 200-yard mark if cramping did not limit his night.
“If he doesn't cramp up he probably has 250,” head coach Richard Bishop said.
However, the Panthers' season opener did bring a few situational positives they can carry over into tonight's matchup against Buffalo. A near late-game winning drive for Westwood saw them convert multiple fourth downs to extend their drive. Moments like that showed the type of poise this Westwood offense is capable of playing with.
“You drill it in practice,” Bishop said. “You tell the kids about it, but until it happens it just works. It's just me talking. It's a confidence factor that makes it a habit to go out there and execute consistently. When you have those things happen in a game against an opponent like Alto you can see positive results. It goes from hope to an expectation.”
Special teams will continue to be an area of concern for coach Bishop this early in the season. The unpredictable nature of that phase of football makes it hard to simulate in a practice. However, Westwood did get a blocked kick and an onside kick recovery in their first game. Coach Bishop described it as a “pleasant surprise.”
Coach Bishop is expecting Buffalo's “best shot” this week as they hope to get in the win column. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
Elkhart v. Frankston
ELKHART – Elkhart coach Jason Fiacco was fired up over his team before their first game. 482 yards later and a 34-14 opening victor was surely enough to keep that flame ignited this week against Frankston. The Elks gave up the first score of the game but went on to rattle off 34-unanswered points as they held Centerville to 174 yards of total offense.
But the circumstances are different this week. Depending on how you view it, Frankston having their season opener canceled could provide an advantage for the Indians. While Elkhart has a week of game experience under their belt, Frankston is fresh and has game tape to view on the Elk's first win.
“I expect them to have fresh legs,” Fiacco said. “They're going to turn it up for us.”
Cade Starr used his dual-threat capabilities to guide Elkhart to their first win. 133 yards passing, five total touchdowns and 170 yards rushing is enough to put pressure on any defense.
Last year, Frankston had trouble containing most offenses as they gave up nearly 43 points a game.
Their offense didn't offer much help, but quarterback Brink Bizzell and wide receiver Clayton Carnes are hoping to see improve years with increased stability not present in the coaching brass.
Elkhart took care of Frankston on their home field last year. Frankston will travel to Elkhart tonight for a chance at retribution.
“First-game jitters” are something coach Fiacco believed has passed, but it will be a factor for Frankston tonight.
“[Our first game] solidified a lot of the things the staff had been preaching,” Fiacco said. “Work hard. Take care of business. And the success will happen on Friday nights.”
Experience under those Friday night lights was something coach Fiacco also emphasized before the start of the season.
“I'm proud of the kids from a culture standpoint,” Fiacco said. “You can't be satisfied. We coach them up hard and they work hard. They've responded well to that.”
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
Grapeland at Cayuga
CAYUGA – Grapeland lived up to their number five Texas Football ranking with a 44-9 blowout of Milano last week.
Cayuga employed their smash-mouth offense against Frost and dominated 32-0.
A battle of strengths will take place tonight in Cayuga. Grapeland's ability to put points on the board quickly will clash with Cayuga's want to control the time of possession.
“We can't let them dictate the game on offense,” head coach Terry Ward said. “It puts a little more pressure on our offense. When we do get the ball we have to make something positive happen.”
Because Grapeland is suiting up a junior varsity team this year they have a lack of depth that could surface tonight. With Cayuga's ability to wear an opposing defense down through four quarters, Grapeland will need to rally to the ball to ensure Cayuga is unable to milk the clock.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
Oakwood at Aquilla
AQUILLA – Oakwood solidified their top-five spot in Texas Football's 1A-6 man poll with a 79-53 victory over Alpha Omega Academy. The Panthers will be back in action tonight against the Aquilla Cougars, who took a 70-24 loss against Aspermont last week.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.