PALESTINE – For games that don't truly count, tonight's tune-ups for area football teams are mighty important.
They may not affect the team's official record, but tonight's bounty of scrimmages are both important and satisfying for area high school football coaches and players.
This weekend provides local squads with their first dress rehearsal for the 2019 season. While it's a good opportunity to iron out kinks and test new wrinkles, it also gives teams an opportunity to gauge themselves against live competition.
The Palestine Wildcats will travel to Waco ISD Stadium for a 6 p.m. scrimmage with Conference 4A school Salado. The varsity, junior varsity and freshman teams will all scrimmage the Eagles in Waco. Salado finished the 2018 season 4-6 after going 12-2 the year prior.
Injuries and inexperience plagued the Eagles at times last year. It was reported eight-now juniors started at some point during last season. Players who were thrown into the fire in 2018, now return with Friday night lights experience. They're led by fourth-year head coach Alan Haire. Salado will employ a fast, run-heavy approach.
The Cayuga Wildcats will host the Westwood Panthers tonight at 6 p.m. Head Coach Coday Mohan enters his fifth season with Cayuga. The Wildcats were able to reach the playoffs last year, but, due to various circumstances, have had trouble stacking back-to-back postseason appearances together.
Cayuga returns eight all-district players heading into 2019 – seven were listed among the offensive and defensive lines. 6-1, 5-1, 5-2
Frankston will travel to Grace High School to take on the Cougars. Grace will attempt to get back to their playoff tradition after missing the playoffs for the first time this decade. Through 2014-2016, the Cougars posted a district record of 16-4 in TAPPS-DII. Grace returned 10 players on defense and nine on offense. They were a field goal away from extending their playoff streak to 10 straight years and will be motivated to restart that streak this year.
Elkhart travels down the road to Mildred High School for a face off against the Eagles. After a postseason birth in 2016, Mildred has been up-and-down. They're on their third head coach in the past three seasons and are hoping to find some consistency in 2019. They turned in a 6-4 season in 2017, but followed that year with a 4-6 outing.
Oakwood will participate in a four-way scrimmage in Waco with Waco Methodist. Oakwood was recognized as one of the top six-man programs in the state of Texas by Texas Football Magazine. They're coming off of an undefeated year in district and will be looking to build upon that.
Finally, Grapeland takes on private school Brook Hill Saturday in Bullard at 6 p.m.