Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Sports

October 9, 2013

GC Football Game of the Week: Frost at Hubbard

Hubbard — Frost coach Eric Blenden saw the film on Saturday morning.

It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t fun to watch.

And his team wasn’t even playing.

“All you saw was explosiveness from those guys in the white jerseys,’’ said Blenden after watching Hubbard rip by Kerens 50-20 last Friday in a game that was supposed to be close.

Blenden didn’t give the film a thumbs up or down. He’s no film critic. He’s the guy whose team has to play Hubbard Friday.

“Kerens is pretty athletic,’’ Blenden said. “But Hubbard is so explosive. They can hit a home run at any time. Their M.O. is that they’re going to score from 60 yards out. They scored three or four times from 60 yards or more against Valley Mills. They’ve gotten better every week.’’

But this is the week that counts.

It’s not only the District 9-1A DII opener for both teams but it’s a game many feel will ultimately decide the district title. It did last year. Hubbard won the game at Frost last year, coming from behind to score 32 second-half points to beat the Polar Bears 44-27.

But Frost didn’t lose again until the Polar Bears lost on the final play in the region finals to Tenaha. Hubbard was upset in the first round of the playoffs. That playoff loss to Bremond stung.

Hubbard coach Craig Horn preached to his kids in the offseason and summer that they needed to be tougher, and that’s the identity the Jaguars have taken.

That Hubbard toughness has helped this team overcome a rash of injuries that might have ruined the season. Hubbard is not only 5-1, but the only loss was a one-point loss to state power Bosqueville in overtime, and the Jags have outscored opponents 206-34 in four games since.

They’ve done it overcoming injuries, including QB Casen Martin, who is still out with a collarbone  injury. Martin, who has been out for more than a month, is close to being ready to play and might have been cleared to play this week, but Horn said he wants to give Martin more time, and Hubbard will have a bye week after the district opener on Friday.

“That will give him a chance to make that bone even stronger,’’ Horn said. “If this was a playoff game he would play, but it’s not.’’

Sophomore QB Braydyn Gillham has stepped and led the team. He threw three TDs last week against Kerens and scored on a fumble recovery on defense.

“The only question with Braydyn was his lack of experience, but he has answered that question,’’ Horn said. “Casen is the best receiver on our team so what Braydyn has done is put us in a great situation when Casen comes back.’’

Hubbard’s swarming defense has dominated games, and the Jags are a much better team today than when they lost to Bosqueville.

“We feel we are a lot better football team. We’re infinitely better,’’ Horn said. “We just didn’t make excuses when the injuries hit us, and kept playing. We may not have the biggest or fastest kids, but our kids give us everything they’ve got.’’

Tailback Logan McClinton, who scored three TDs last year against Frost, came back from a hamstring injury last week and played in the first half. With McClinton and fullback Trey Henderson in the backfield, Hubbard has a lethal running game. Sophomore Brandon Simpson, who filled in for McClinton, gained 112 yards last week.

“McClinton and Henderson are running about as hard as any running backs I’ve seen in the last three or four years,’’ Blenden said. “They’ve been banged up but they have gotten better every week.’’

Frost has had its own set of injuries and lost its most explosive player when Kobe Hailey broke his fibula two weeks ago. Alex Cruz has played four different positions and has filled in at the third running back spot for Hailey.

The Polar Bears still have running backs Robert Worley and Woody Woods, who carry the offense.

“Robert Worley is the best football player at Frost for the last four years,’’ Horn said. “They’ve got a real good offensive line and Robert Worley will give us some problems. Frost has a real good team, and Eric Blenden’s a good coach. I don’t think there’s another team in the district that will come within three touchdowns of them.’’

That’s what makes this showdown so intriguing. It could be for the district title.

“We’re 3-3 and obviously it’s not where we want to be,’’ Blenden said. “We’re starting over. The next four weeks will be big for us. Even if we don’t win first, we want to be the first team in Frost history to go back-to-back to the playoffs.’’

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