By SCOTT TYLER
BETHEL — The Cayuga Wildcats are making a 180-degree turn heading into the second round of the playoffs.
After facing a fast Tenaha squad last week in a bi-district win, the Wildcats will be seeing the exact opposite this week in a bigger, more physical James Bowie squad.
The Class A-Region III, Division II, area playoff game will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Longview’s Pine Tree High School.
“Bowie is more of a physical, in your face football team than what we saw last week,” Cayuga head coach Tommy Allison said.
The Wildcats (9-3) are coming off an 18-16 win over Tenaha. Cayuga trailed 16-14 going into the fourth quarter. Cory Perry gave Cayuga the lead with a 25-yard field goal and the defense held deep in its own territory to stop Tenaha from taking the lead.
“I was so proud of the kids’ desire to win the football game against a very good Tenaha team,” Allison said. “We did not play our best football but we found a way to win.”
Cayuga now turns its attention to James Bowie (7-3), who had a bye last week after taking second in District 17-A. The Pirates won their first four non-district games before a loss to Quinlan Boles. In district, James Bowie was 3-2 with wins over Big Sandy, Gilmer Union Hill and Detroit.
“They are a well-coached football team that executed on offense and defense,” Allison said.
On offense, Bowie mainly uses an I-formation look but at times will go to a spread formation. The Pirates’ biggest weapon is running back Nic Pistolis, who has two straight years of rushing for over 1,000 yards.
Allison said the key for his defense is to match Bowie’s physical play.
“Our kids are going to have to play physical football right back at them,” the Cayuga head coach said. “We have to do a good job getting off our blocks and running to the football and we can’t take any plays off.
“The first person to the ball needs to get a hold and the other 10 need to swarm the ball. This is the kind of team you cannot try and arm tackle.”
Bowie also is big on defense as the Wildcats try to find a way to handle the size the Pirates have up front.
“They have a big, physical defensive front and their linebackers are very good,” Allison said. “We are going to have to do a better job of spreading the ball around and be more effective in our passing game.”
The Wildcats did not use or need a passing game against Tenaha. Cayuga ran the ball 60 times, including 51 times by Traylon Shead, who rushed for 265 yards.
While Allison said it would be important to spread the football around, Shead could be in for another night carrying the workload behind the big Cayuga offense line.
“If that is what it takes to win the football game, we will do it,” Allison said.
Cayuga may hold a slight advantage with its playoff experience. The Wildcats had two playoff games last season to go along with Friday night’s win over Tenaha. Bowie played one playoff game last season and with a bye last week, has not been in a playoff game this year.
“One of the advantages is that most of our kids have been here,” Allison said. “They have been in the playoff environment, so they should be ready to play.”
Notes: Shead has rushed for 2,604 yards on 265 carries and scored 41 touchdowns this season. ...Cayuga has outscored its opponents 194-34 in the first quarter and 312-93 in the first half. ...Cayuga and Bowie have one common opponent this season — Carlisle. Bowie defeated Carlisle 26-0 in the season opener and Cayuga defeated Carlisle 54-33 in district play.
Scott Tyler may be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com
By SCOTT TYLER
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