By Raymond Linex II
Corsicana Daily Sun
Kerens makes its sixth straight playoff appearance Thursday, only the second such streak in school history. But don’t think it’s been a cakewalk.
It’s been anything but.
The Bobcats (5-5) face potent Hico (9-1) Thursday night at Midlothian’s MISD Multi-Purpose Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30, and Kerens will look across the field and see a lot of what it has seen the last two years: a salty foe.
Hico beat Kerens, 46-0, in the opening round a year ago.
“They return nine and nine starters (on offense and defense, respectively) from last year’s team, and their only loss is to Goldthwaite,” Anderson said. “They are well-rounded. They are extremely good on defense, and they are good in the run game.”
When Anderson spoke of strength of schedule in the summer, he knew exactly what he was talking about. The Bobcats’ .500 record speaks more to the caliber of opponents they have played. All five teams that beat Kerens are in the playoffs, and sport a combined 40-9 record.
The Bobcats will needs their front seven to match the play of Hico’s, Anderson said, and they will need to be good with the football. Hico has scored at least 40 points five times.
“One of the keys is for us to be efficient and move the ball,” Anderson said. “We have to be able to move the ball in the run game.”
Surprisingly, the return of wide receiver Shelton Sayles helps in that endeavor. Teams can’t focus on record-setting wide receiver Brett Anderson, the coach’s son, in the passing game. That opens up the run game for quarterback Nate Betts and running back Tavion Hall.
Sayles suffered a micro-fracture in a foot in the first scrimmage, but has been back full strength the last three weeks. The Bobcats lost swing man Zach Duncan and lineman Daedrion Tolliver to ACL injuries, which also hurt the running game.
“Shelton helps us offensively, but he also helps us on defense,” Anderson said. “He gives us another big body in the secondary.”
Region II-1A DI
Kerens vs. Hico
7:30 p.m. Thursday,
KAND 1340 AM
At Midlothian’s MISD Multi-Purpose Stadium
RECORDS: Kerens is 5-5, Hico is 9-1.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:Kerens: QB/LB Nate Betts, WR/DB Brett Anderson, OL/LB Aaron Foxworth, RB/DL Tavion Hall. Hico: RB/LB Duane Hyles, L Ryder Needham, RB Blake Hyles, L Jon Hartgraves.
UPDATE: Hico beat Kerens in the first round a year ago, 46-0 ... the Bobcats are making their sixth straight playoff appearance, second best in the Golden Circle, and second longest in school history (8, ’92-’99) ... Anderson owns the career records for catches (116), receiving yards (1,959) and receiving TDs (20) ... this group of seniors is only the third to make the playoffs all four years ... coach Russell Anderson said Foxworth has anchored the defense, but DB Jovani Coronado (51 tackles) has stepped up due to injuries to play a key role ... Betts has 2,516 yards of offense and 30 TDs.
— Raymond Linex II