Throughout the season, the Six-Man Spotlight has focused on different teams across the area.
We have taken a look at Gordon coach Mike Reed, Blackwell kicker Mickey Toasaksiri, two-time defending state champion Strawn taking everyone’s best shot and the bond between Jayton coach Josh Stanaland and standout Tye Scogin.
Now, those are the last four teams standing and chasing a state championship.
All four are in Division II and face off against each other this week on opposite sides of the bracket in the state quarterfinals as they attempt to move one step closer to playing on Dec. 18 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
Rather than focus on one of the four teams, we are taking a look at the two games as Gordon takes on Strawn on Thanksgiving in Hico while the Jaybirds and Hornets meet on Friday evening in Borden County.
REGION II FINAL
Both teams have put up points in bunches this year with Jayton averaging 58.6 points per game and Blackwell scoring 56.9 per game on their way to identical 12-0 records.
The two squads don’t have any common opponents, so it’s hard to see how they compare from that aspect, but when you take a look at the offenses and their ability to put up points, there are some similarities.
Jayton, which has spent the entire season ranked No. 1 in the state, has scored at least 50 points in every game this fall with the exception of a 48-0 win over Anton to start the season. That game was shortened to just one half due to the 45-point rule.
The Jaybirds have only had to go the distance in two games this year, one of which came last week in a 72-32 win over No. 2 Grandfalls-Royalty.
Fourth-ranked Blackwell, meanwhile, has had three games where it failed to reach 50 points. Two of those were 46-0 wins while the Hornets struggled to beat Highland 30-16 early in the season.
“It’s been fun, and the main thing is these kids play together and get along,” Blackwell coach Clint Lowry said. “That’s the key and we have several options that we can do. Every kid on the field is a weapon if we can get them the ball.”
On defense, the Hornets are giving up a few more points at 14.7 per game, compared to the 10.5 that a stingy Jaybird defense allows.
“Jayton is a good, sound football team and we know that,” Lowry said. “We have to play really good defense and offense to have a shot to win the game.”
Blackwell’s defense has posted four shutouts this season, including one against Throckmorton last week. There have been six games where the Hornets allowed double-digits, which could be a difference maker on Friday.
The Jaybirds have posted five shutouts and held four others to a single score. That dominance has come from the fact that Jayton is playing five seniors and three juniors on defense.
“I think for us defensively, the biggest thing is that we have a bunch of upperclassmen,” Stanaland said. “It has been a pretty good defensive year, but obviously Blackwell is really, really, really good. They are going to present a ton of challenges and our kids are going to have to trust their eyes and be physical.”
Blackwell knows what it’s up against this week.
“We know they are good and we respect them,” Lowry said. “We have to figure out a way to slow them down and not let them score so quickly.”
With what Jayton has shown this season, it might be hard to slow them down, but Lowry’s squad has a chance to make the Jaybirds play four full quarters.
PEANUT’S PICK: Jayton 68, Blackwell 36
REGION III FINAL
This one is all about the rematch.
This is to answer the question whether Strawn’s 80 points in the 2017 and 2018 matchups is the normal or if Gordon’s 27-26 win a few weeks ago is the new standard.
“That was just kind of how the chess match went that night, but I don’t know if it’s the new normal,” Reed said. “It’s going to depend on the flow and pace of the game as both teams are capable of playing up-tempo or slowing the game down.”
The two schools, which are separated by roughly 10 miles, are heading an hour south to Hico in order to play on Thanksgiving Day.
Can Hoss Rouse duplicate his two-touchdown effort in leading the Longhorns to a district championship? Has J.W. Montgomery sufficiently recovered from a broken wrist suffered earlier this season to make a difference? With extra point kicks worth two points, which kicker has a better day?
These are all questions that will be answered after the tryptophan comas wear off for those of us still at home. Reed, however, said he doesn’t yet know what to expect in the rematch.
“They are definitely going to throw with J.W.,” he said. “He is wearing a cast on defense and taking it off on offense and we know we are going to get a full dose of their playmakers.
“When it comes down to this late in the season, you’re going to put the ball in the hands of the playmakers.”
PEANUT’S PICK: Gordon 78, Strawn 74