Daily Sun photo/Ron Farmer

Blooming Grove QB Carson Rucks, seen here in an earlier game, completed 17 of 35 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns against Palmer.

Here are the advances for the Golden Circle football games involving Mildred, Blooming Grove, Frost,  Hubbard, Dawson, Rice and Kerens.

Blooming Grove at Mildred

7:30 pm Friday,

Asby Field

Records Class 3A Div II Mildred 5-3, 2-3 in District 7-3A, Class 3A Div II Blooming Grove 4-4, 2-3 in District 7-3A

Players to Watch: Mildred: WR/DB Cody Hayes; WR/DB Sammy Bustos; OL/DL Austin Carrigan    Blooming Grove: QB/DB Carson Rucks WR/DB Joshua Glasco, OL/DL Nick Wilcoxen

Update: Competition in District 7-3A has been fierce this year. With two weeks left, six teams have a path to the playoffs including Navarro County rivals Mildred and Blooming Grove. The Eagles and Lions are in a position where they must win the next two games, but neither are eliminated.

Both teams face an uphill battle, but the Eagles have the easier path facing Blooming Grove this week and Edgewood next week whereas Blooming Grove faces a more daunting path in by hosting Palmer next week. Both teams must show up and play their best both weeks to have a chance.

The Eagles and Lions are long-time cross-county rivals playing in most sports every year. Since 2004, Mildred has dominated the series winning 11 of 13 contests, but Blooming Grove has won 2 of the last 4.

This year the Eagles started out hot, winning their first 5 games, but have lost their last 3 contest as their competition has stiffened. The Eagles have a dangerous offense led by a dual-headed rushing attack of Bishop Harris and quarterback Creed Baker. They have a sneaky passing attack that can reliably move the chains led by Cody Hayes, Daniel Ayers, and Sammy Bustos.

The Eagles have struggled giving up big plays this season, but have proven to come up with big stops when needed. Linebackers Preston Kindle and Kain Holleman have been solid all season while the secondary has been stingy against opponents passing attacks.

The Eagles are coming off a 71-30 loss to the Buffalo Bison. The Eagles had every opportunity to give up, but kept fighting, scoring in the 3rd and 4th quarters.

The Lions are 4-4 on the season and have not been as streaky as the Eagles, but haven’t won back-to-back games since the second week of the season. The Lions offense runs through senior quarterback Carson Rucks and a receivers Damon Lovett, Bubba Beacom, and Will Stuckert. The Lions rushing attack is headed by Jalen Coleman and Joe Velasquez.

The Lions are coming off a 48-8 victory over the Gateway Charter Gators. Carson Rucks led the way with 244 yards passing and 2 touchdowns while 3 different players had rushing touchdowns. The Lions dominated from start to finish.

Rivalry games are always interesting to watch. Both teams will want to play spoiler and earn bragging rights for the following year. Mildred has the stronger offense, but has been streaky. Blooming Grove has the stronger defense, but Mildred’s has been opportunistic. Will Blooming Grove be able to score enough points to outpace the Eagles? Which Mildred offense will show up?

Questions abound and will be put to rest on the playing field Friday night.

Jon Rash


 at Rice

7:30 Friday

At Bulldog Stadium

Records: Rice is 2-3 in the district race and 4-4 overall. Scurry-Rosser is 1-4 in district and 3-5 overall.

Players to Watch: Rice: LB Brian Ovalle, DL/OL Angel Banda, DB/WR Elizah Nezar, LB Brycen Clark. S-R: WR/DB Brandon Birmingham, OL/DL John McLean, RB/DB Noah Lopez.

Update: Rice is coming off a tough 25-0 loss to Edgewood, but can still make the playoffs with wins in the final two district games against S-R and Dallas Gateway. That’s why this week’s game is so vital to the Bulldogs, who have been led on defense by Ovalle, Clark, Banda and Jerry Montgomery. The offense has been innovated and QB Tanner Carlisle and running back Montgomery have been keys all season along with Nezar, who has been outstanding as a receiver and defensive back.

Hubbard at Wortham

7:30 Friday

At Bulldog Stadium

Records: Hubbard is 4-4, 0-3 in District 11-2A DII.  Wortham is 6-2, 2-1.

Players to watch:  Hubbard:  WR/LB Blaine Cornelius, RB/DB Joseph Green, OL/DL Chance Hasse, OL/DL Daniel Torres.  Wortham:  RB/LB Riley Baker, QB/LB Brandon Coker, OL/DL Demarcus Bullard, OL/DL Jake McClellan. 

Update: The showdown between Dawson and Mart may be the biggest game of the year in District 11-2A DII, but the Jaguars traveling to Wortham to face the Bulldogs is the most important one.  Besides both teams playing for their playoff lives, the result of this game could have big implications in Frost.

  If Wortham wins, the Bulldogs and Frost would claim the last two playoff spots, while Hubbard would be officially eliminated.  In that scenario, combined with a Dawson loss to Mart, Wortham would travel to Dawson next week with the second seed on the line.  Hubbard would be out because Frost would hold the tiebreaker due to a 21-14 win over the Jaguars two weeks ago.  If Hubbard beats Wortham, then it gets really complincated.  There is not enough space to go over all the different scenarios of a Hubbard win, but the most likely one involves a three-way tie between Hubbard, Wortham, and Frost for the last two playoff spots. 

If that happens, coaches and administrators would have to break out the district rules, calculators, and aspirin to figure it all out.  With all that being said, the bottom line for the Jaguars this week is pretty simple – win and stay alive, lose and be eliminated.  In order to win, the Jaguar defense, led by linebackers Colton Reid and Landon Blackman, must contain Wortham’s Brandon Coker. 

Coker, the senior quarterback, comes into the game with more than 1,000 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns on the ground, to go along with his six touchdown passes.  On offense, Hubbard will look to the backfield combination of Logan Morris and Cooper Martin.   Morris, the senior quarterback, and Martin, the Jaguars leading rusher, have combined for more than 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground.  Morris has added another 1,000 yards and eight scores through the air.  Martin has caught 27 passes from Morris, while Justin Johnson and Tyler Piece both have more than 20 catches. 

The Bulldog defense will counter with linebacker Riley Baker and Dawson Norcross, both of which average more than 10 tackles per game.  Last week, Hubbard fell to state-ranked Mart, 46-6, while Wortham routed Meridian, 44-0.  In their match-up last season, Hubbard blasted the Bulldogs, 41-6, at Jaguar Field.

Jim Pitts

Centerville at Kerens

7:30 p.m. Friday

At A.G. Godley Field

Records: Kerens is 1-2 in District 10-2A DI and 1-7 overall while Centerville leads the district race at 3-0 and is 4-3 overall.

Players to Watch: Kerens: RB/LB Josh Brown, WR/DB Jason Burleson, QB/DB Daniel Fernandez, RB/LB Devin Graves, RB/PK Garrett Myre. Centerville: RB?LB: Caiden Boss, TE/DE Brian Rutledge, OL/DL Dillan Brent.

Update: Kerens has one of the youngest teams in Texas but the Bobcats have grown up a lot this year, and are still alive in the playoff hunt. They are building a foundation for the future with experience this year and hope to finish strong in their final two games.

Frost at Meridian

7:30, Friday

At Yellow Jacket Stadium

Records:  Frost is 3-5; 1-2 in Dist. 11-2A DII.  Meridian is 0-8; 0-3 in Dist. 11-2A DII

Players To Watch: Frost: DT/ST Izzy Chavez, CB/WR JD Hendricks, WR/LB Preston Rasco, DE/OT Leopoldo Perez. Meridian: LB Anthony Gonzalez, OT/DL Zade Kendall, DE/OL Teagan Smith, QB/DB Trey Uselton.

Update:  Last week Frost lost to Dawson 56-0. The Polar Bears hope some injuries heal for this week’s game – a game with playoff implications.  Frost can still earn a playoff spot with two games remaining. Hendricks was the Bears’ leading tackler last week (6), and he recovered a fumble.  He is a hard hitter who also contributes on special teams along with Chavez.  The Bears often use on-side and medium range kicks to prevent long returns, as well as provide opportunities for fumble recoveries.

Perez, like several Bears is three-way player (offense, defense, special teams).  On defense, he has accumulated 58 total tackles – 11 of which are tackles for loss.  He is third on the team in total tackles behind Ramon Manrriquez (72) and Preston Rasco (61). On offense, he and his fellow linemen hope to provide a pocket for QB Tony Alvarado.  Alvarado had completed 59 passes to eight different receivers for 1,170 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Manrriquez has an opportunity to pass the 1,000 total offensive yards mark against the Yellow Jackets.  He will enter the game with 770 yards rushing and 216 yards receiving.

Meridian has scored only one touchdown this year.  That came against Moody back on Sept. 20.  They have given up 442 points, and they currently have a 10-game losing streak dating back to Oct. 26 of last year when they defeated Wortham 40-2.

Kendall (6’4,250) is the Yellow Jackets leading lineman.  Gonzalez wrapped up 128 tackles last year.  Meanwhile, Smith had 57 tackles last year and has been used at running back.

Last year, Frost won at home 28-13.  The win clinched the Bears a playoff spot.  In that game Manrriquez ran for 159 of the Bears’ 265 total rushing yards.  Thus, like last year, Frost needs a win against Meridian to stay alive in the playoff hunt.

Dan Lunsford

Dawson at Mart

7:30 p.m. Friday

Records: Dawson is 3-0 in District 10-2A DII and 7-1 overall. Mart is 3-0 in District 10-2A DII and 5-3.

Players to Watch: QB/LB Brendan Horner, OL/DL Seth Springer, FS/RB Da’Mariyea Hamilton, RB/LB  Zane Guerra. Mart: QB/DB Kyler Martin, LB Tony Sanchez, DE/RB Roddrell, OL Cameron Atkins

Update: Dawson plays defending state champ Mart this week,  If you were to talk to the players on either side, you would hear that both sides are showing up to play a tough game. This will likely be the game that decides the district champion.

Mart has a strong program and Dawson has emerged as a force that not many expected if they hadn’t been watching the Dawson team over the last couple of years.

The Bulldogs have been a tough team this year. They have been a little inconsistent but have been able to remain unbeaten in district play. Their lone loss is against Thorndale in a pre-district matchup. Dawson had some vital mistakes in a short few minutes that made the score look worse than that game really was.

Last week, Dawson seemed to pull everything back together, looking like the team they were against the Valley Mills team, early in the season. Football fans at the Regional Cross Country Meet, Monday, were discussing what has happened in Dawson and making plans to come see what the buzz is about. How could a team emerge so quickly from what was a forgotten program? It’s really simple.

The Dawson kids will walk through fire for Coach Striplin. The boys are playing for him, making plays on balls that aren’t pretty, not getting down and staying down. It’s Dawson.

It’s like no where you’ve seen before. You don’t understand how the kids work until you’re among them. Mart is one of the best teams in the state, it will be a tough game, but the Dawson Bulldogs know that the game is Friday and the winner will be decided after the game is played.

Will Brumley

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