DAWSON — It’s all about keeping a streak alive at Frost, and about killing one at Dawson.
That’s what’s at stake and more Friday night when these two rivals meet in a game that means so much to each team.
“We know if we win and Hubbard beats Wortham that we will clinch a playoff spot,’’ Frost Coach Eric Blenden said. “It means we will make the playoffs in back-to-back years, and that’s only been done once at Frost. We have been talking to the kids about that this week.’’
Last year’s deep run in the playoffs changed the climate at Frost, where the Polar Bears emerged as a Class 1A power, and everyone in Frost wants another trip to the playoffs.
“The goal at the beginning of the year was to go to back-to-back playoffs,’’ Blenden said. “It would be great to be undefeated but at the end of the day it comes down to did you make it to the playoffs or not. This game is huge for us.’’
For Dawson, it’s time to end a losing streak that’s in its third year.
“It would be huge for us to win this game,’’ said first-year Dawson Coach Larry Prince, who has seen his team improve this season. “We’ve seen good progress. It’s always a penalty or a crucial turnover that we don’t seem to overcome. That’s what we’re looking for, to get past that and get over that hump. We need to put together four quarters of football and play a complete game.’’
Dawson comes into the game with is own playoff hopes.
“We’ve talked to the kids about making the playoffs,’’ Prince said. “We’re still fighting for a playoff spot. We can make the playoffs if we win to of our last three games.’’
That could start Friday at home with an upset.
“We went a long time without winning a game, but sometimes it just takes that one win and it explodes,’’ Blenden said of Dawson’s losing streak. “They’re going to play hard. I’ve seen them on film for three games, and they play hard. They are learning a new offense and a new defense, but they are making strides. They have a couple of guys who scare me, (quarterback) Lane Dotson and (running back) Dalton Long.’’
And of course, there is a rivalry factor.
“You can throw away the records when Dawson plays Frost,’’ Blenden said. “We’re so close. A lot of the kids go to the same churches. They know each other.’’
The rivalry adds some spice to the game, but Frost (4-4, 1-1 in District 9-1A DII) is coming off a big 41-12 win over Wortham in which the Polar Bears broke out of a scoreless tie at halftime to run away with the game. Alex Cruz had a monster game, scoring four touchdowns, rushing for two, catching a 6-yard pass for another and returning the second half kickoff for an 85-yard TD. Cruz also intercepted two passes.
“We had a big game from Alex,’’ said Blenden, who lost his most explosive player, Kobe Hailey, to an injury last month. Hailey is out for the season, and Frost went through a three-game losing streak.
“We had that tough stretch against some good teams,’’ Blenden said. “We played good teams but we didn’t play very well. Last week our defense held and we scored 41 points in the second half. We kind of looked like the old Frost team from last year.’’
While Frost wants to capture part of its past and make another runin the playoffs, Dawson is looking toward the future .
The Bulldogs aren’t only playing better this season, but they’re doing it with young blood. Prince is building for the long run and has a team that starts eight freshmen and 16 underclassmen. The Bulldogs will return eight starters on defense and eight on offense next year, including Dotson, who is only a sophomore, and tailback Ian Norwood, another sophomore.
“We have three freshmen on the offensive line who have done pretty well for us, Cody Zellmer, Dakota Greer and Rylan Wade,’’ Prince said.
A win against Frost would make everyone at Dawson feel like they have grown this season and could define a season for the Bulldogs, who would surely celebrate onthe field with a W.
A win for the Polar Bears would mean a taste of history and a celebration all their own.
“There’s not a better feeling,’’ Blenden said. “We were able to finally feel that last year. It was the best feeling just seeing the looks on those young faces.’’
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