PALESTINE – Week two has a different feel to it for the Palestine Wildcats this year. In years prior the annual battle between Hwy. 79 rivals had been a staple between Palestine and the Jacksonville Indians.
However, due to the University Interscholastic League ruling, the Indians are unable to start their regular season until Sept. 24.
Instead of fans being entertained with the annual rivalry game, Palestine will host the Livingston Lions Friday at Wildcat Stadium.
The Wildcats are coming off a 33-3 defeat at the hands of the Van Vandals Friday. New faces at the quarterback, running back, linebacker, and defensive back positions showed itself under the lights of Van Memorial Stadium.
However, though head coach Lance Angel would be pleased with a sweep of their non-district schedule, getting prepared for their district-run is the ultimate goal.
Despite a 2-8 record in 2019, coach Angel is not underestimating the challenge his team faces Friday. The Lions lost 36-35 in their season opener to 4A's seventh-ranked Needville Bluejays.
Livingston held a 35-21 advantage with two minutes left in the game before a few missed opportunities from Livingston caused them to blow their 14-point lead.
Quick Hits: It's no secret the Wildcats want to enforce their running game early and often. Jakaryon Conley was Palestine's leading rusher with 81 yards on 16 carries, but even with their emphasis being on the run coach Angel hopes to see some improvement in their passing game. With teams blatantly loading the box, coach Angel said they're going to need to hit open receivers to be effective.
Week one starter Jarrod Walker exited the game with an injury in the second half and was replaced by junior De'Myzjean Martin. Angel said he is evaluating the status of Walker to see who will be the starter behind center Friday.
Last week, Livingston gave up 261 yards rushing and 228 yards passing. Needville's lead guy, Walker Warncke, had 171 by himself. Coach Angel may not be looking for 230-yard days from his quarterback, but effective passing could lead to a big day for Conley on the ground.
Who to watch: Livingston's offense goes as far as their quarterback, Damian Ruiz, will take them. Ruiz was named district newcomer of the year and is armed with both his all-district receivers Julian Gardner and Chris Washington – who is a four-year starter for the Lions.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m., Friday, at Wildcat Stadium.