By Mike Phillips
Corsicana Daily Sun
This time could be different.
At least that’s the way they feel at Blooming Grove, where the Lions enter the Region II 2A DII first round of the playoffs Friday night at Desoto’s Eagle Stadium against Jacksboro.
If that matchup rings a bell, it’s because the two teams met in the same bi-district round of the playoffs last year, and Jacksboro won 28-13.
The Lions would love to get some revenge and make a statement in the playoffs at the same time.
They will be underdogs.
But even though Jacksboro is 8-2 and the Tigers have won eight in a row, there’s a different feeling at Blooming Grove, which entered last year’s playoffs after a long drought of being in he playoffs. .
“Our kids now have the experience of being in a playoff game,’’ Blooming Grove Coach Gary Grubbs said. “The unknown factor isn’t there any more, and we know who we’re playing because we played them last year.’’
It’s more than the familiarity that makes the Lions, who are 6-4, feel they can win. They came back in the second half last year and outscored Jacksboro, 13-7 in last year’s loss.
“When it was all said and done last year we felt like we could have won the game,’’ Grubbs said. “I think the kids who played in that game last year will come out and be a lot more aggressive and play with a lot more confidence.
“I think it will make a tremendous difference. Last year we went into halftime and we were down 21-0, and the kids looked at each other and said, ‘Hey, we can play with these guys.’ I think it will make a difference this year.
Grubbs also likes his offense.
“I think we’re a little more balanced,’’ he said. “We spread the ball around quite a bit. We attack you at different angles.’’
The Lions do have a 1,000-yard rusher, but three players — Travis Whiteside, Tyler Morris and quarterback Tyler Ellis — have combined to run for 2,355 yards. Whiteside leads the pack with 1,015 yards Ellis throws enough to keep teams honest, and the Lions have a big and talented offensive line.
But more than anything, Grubbs knows that playoff experience is priceless.
Region II- 2A DII
Blooming Grove vs. Jacksboro
7:30 p.m. Friday,
KAND 1340 AM
At Desoto’s Eagle Stadium
RECORDS: Blooming Grove is 6-4. Jacksoboro is 8-2.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Blooming Grove: QB/K Tyler Ellis, RB Travis Whiteside, RB Tyler Morris, WR Brandon Hays. Jacksoboro: QB Kirk Welson, WE David Stretcher, DE Garrett Johnson, RB Chris Thompson.
UPDATE: The Lions lost to Jacksboro 28-13 in the bi-district game last year and both teams bring back a lot of players from that game ... Jacksboro has won eight in a row and went 5-0 to win the district title, outscoring opponents 30-9-109 during the eight-game winning streak ...Blooming Grove may have an edge if the game comes down to kicking because Ellis is 5-for-5 on field goal attempts this year, including a 40-yarder ... the Lions have a three-headed rushing monster in Morris (1,015 yards), Whiteside (729 yards) and Ellis (611 yards) and Ellis has thrown for 860 yards and 10 TDs ... Hays has 17 for 243 yards (14.29 average) and 6 TDs.
— Mike Phillips