PALESTINE – Senior running back Jeremiah Davis' main goal was to “change people's minds” about Palestine's football program. Following their first area championship victory since 2004, they've done more than that heading into week 14.
“There's not a sense of satisfaction,” coach Lance Angel said. “I'm impressed with their attitude. There's not a sense of growing weary of practicing and playing.”
The Wildcats travel to Panther Stadium in Hewitt Friday for a regional battle against Midlothian Heritage (8-4).
The Jaguars are coming off a 26-14 victory over Navasota in the area round. But the intrigue between Palestine and Midlothian Heritage lies in the common opponents both sides share.
Both sides have played Crandall, Waxahachie Life and Henderson. Palestine boasts wins over Waxahachie Life and Henderson as do Midlothian Heritage. They both share losses against Crandall with Palestine losing 24-20 and the Jaguars falling 23-7.
“High school football comes down to matchups,” Angel said. “It's hard to just look at scores and compare.”
The matchup for the Wildcats will be containing quarterback Cade Sumbler. In the playoffs, he's 23-of-38 passing, for 205 yards and two touchdowns. He's also rushed for 105 yards and a touchdown.
Running back Cullen Stone is another offensive weapon to watch as he has scored at least two touchdowns in their past three games.
Linebacker Noah Gray has 27 tackles over the past two contests and will be their main key to stopping Palestine's power running attack.
Davis has been on a tear going for over 100 yards in Palestine's past four outings. He also has eight rushing touchdowns over that time. Davis is now 143 yards behind Adrain Peterson for the most career rushing yards in school history.
He's six touchdowns behind Peterson for the number one spot and three touchdowns behind Jerry Hall for second all-time in touchdowns. Davis currently has 47.
The senior back needs 131 yards to move into second for single-season rushing yards.
Palestine has yet to trail in neither of their playoff games this season. Contrarily, the Jaguars have trailed in half in both of their postseason bouts.
It's a testament to a playoff-experienced team that has the poise to overcome second-half deficits.
“At times we get overlooked,” Angel said. “Our kids are playing with confidence. If they play with confidence we have a chance in every ball game.”
Of the 16 teams left, Palestine is one of only two 7-win teams left (Liberty Hill Panthers is the other). The last time Palestine advanced past the third round was in 2004 against Waco Connally, 38-14, in Waco.
Kickoff is set for 2 p.m., Friday, at Panther Stadium in Hewitt.