At this point, the tables are turned. Mildred limps into the season finale as an underdog.
The favorite in this matchup has won big a lot recently, including last year, when Mildred throttled Scurry-Rosser, 83-0. The Eagles could ruin the script with a win Friday, though it may not be enough to change the course of the playoffs.
A year after playing for a state title, Mildred (7-2, 5-1 in District 6-2A DII) faces long odds to not go in to the playoffs as the third seed this year. The Eagles have to beat undefeated Scurry-Rosser – 9-0, 6-0 – by 15 points or more Friday to go in as the top seed. A win of 14, and the Eagles are third thanks to a 49-0 loss to Tolar three weeks ago.
They could still be tri-champions with a two-touchdown win, but Scurry-Rosser would still own the top seed.
“It’s been the most injured we’ve ever been,” said Mildred coach Billy Dan Chambliess, in his sixth season at Mildred. He spent the first five as defensive coordinator.
The Eagles have three players out for sure Friday, two who started on the defensive line as recently as a 14-13 win over Rice two weeks ago. Wide receiver Connor Hill has been out, and remains a question mark. Devin O’Sullivan, the linebacker-wide receiver and record-breaking kicker, is questionable for Friday, Chambliess said.
All-state defensive back and career 4,000-yard rusher Draylon Sterling is about 70 percent.
It’s been a broken record the last three weeks for the Eagles.
“We’re not going to use that as an excuse,” Chambliess said of the injuries. “We’ll be ready to go.”
The first-year head coach believes his team is capable of pulling off an upset Friday. Not only will it have to deal with the injuries, it will have to deal with a Scurry-Rosser team that appears to be for real.
Mildred has won big the previous two seasons, and saw how eager teams are to even old scores when Tolar came to town. The Eagles have owned the Wildcats the last two seasons, outscoring Scurry-Rosser, 160-0. Two years ago, it was 63-0 at the half.
But, Chambliess warned, Scurry-Rosser has been talented in the past.
“They have always looked good,” Chambliess said, “but by the time we got to them, they were a little beat up. This is probably the first time they are healthy.”
The Wildcats are averaging 45.2 points per game behind the fantastic trio of quarterback Paten Snell, running back Rodney Sample and wide receiver Jalen Blanton. They are winning games by 30 points an outing.
Three weeks ago, Scurry-Rosser trailed at the half to Blooming Grove, 21-20. The Wildcats won, 54-21. They led the same Tolar team that routed Mildred, 41-0, before the Rattlers scored the final two touchdowns of the night. The 27-point win was Scurry-Rosser’s closest game in district.
“They have it rolling now,” Chambliess agreed. “They’ve got a good-looking quarterback, a good running back, a good receiver and a good line.”
When Sterling couldn’t go against Tolar, it deflated his team, and sparked the Rattlers, Chambliess said. A week later, the Eagles came out flat against Rice, and played that way almost all night. They pulled out a minor miracle of a win at the end, needing a heads-up play from a hobbled Sterling, and a gutsy Will Burnham-to-Russell Holden touchdown pass with under a minute remaining.
Last week’s 51-6 win over a talented Oak Cliff Life team was more like Mildred football of the last two years. With another week of that, Mildred could turn the current tables in the district.
“Our kids still have their goals,” Chambliess said. “They still want a district championship.
“They don’t want to be the first team in this stretch (of the last three years) not to win district. I expect us to be ready.”
Mildred at Scurry-Rosser
7:30 P.M. Friday
At Wildcat Stadium
RECORDS: Mildred is 7-2, 5-1 in District 6-2A DII. Scurry-Rosser is 9-0, 6-0.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Mildred: RB/DB Draylon Sterling, WR/LB Mikey Muncy, WR/DB Russell Holden, L Nic Stone. Scurry-Rosser: QB/DB Paten Snell, WR/DB Jalen Blanton, RB/DB Rodney Sample, L John Day.
UPDATE: Mildred beat Oak Cliff Life last week, 51-6, in its most complete game in weeks … Scurry-Rosser topped Millsap last week, 47-14 … Mildred won last year’s meeting, 83-0, on the way to a state finals appearance … Mildred is 4-0 on the road ... the Eagles can force a three-way tie for first, but must win by 15 to claim the top seed from 6-2A DII; anything less and the Eagles are third … Sterling is 114 yards from another 1,000-yard season … the Wildcats might be the surprise team in the state, not just the region or Class 2A … Scurry-Rosser was 5-5 last year and is having its finest season 1993, when it went 11-1 and beat Mildred, 42-0, in non-district … Snell threw for 276 yards and 3 TDs in a 53-9 win over Rice … Blanton had 7 catches for 131 yards and 2 TDs in that game.
— Raymond Linex II