By CHARLIE CHITWOOD
Boy did we find out a lot about the Region II scene in just one week of Bi-District football action. Jefferson’s District 7-3A advanced three teams to the Area Round by knocking out Tatum, West Rusk and Mineola. District 5-3A apparently wasn’t worth a half-empty Gatorade bottle – the four teams advancing to Bi-District were swept from the playoffs by District 6-3A teams by an average count of 49-28.
Bonham’s Purple Warriors were part of that purging, and they’d filled up the scoreboard this season, averaging 51 points per game – the only team this year in Region II to score more than 500 points in the regular season. Alas, lowly Eustace – limping in with at 4-6 – blasted Bonham 59-34 and advances to face Gladewater.
Atlanta knocked out a pre-season contender for the title in defeating West Rusk. The Rabbits’ 28-20 victory propels them into a game with Kemp (8-2), the top seed from District 5-3A and a 42-14 winner over Lone Oak.
Mt. Vernon may have been the biggest surprise of the local district by beating Tatum 32-26. The Purple Tigers – who finished third in 7-3A behind Jefferson and Atlanta – now draw Dallas Madison, the #4 team from District 6-3A. The Mustangs were playing just their ninth game of the year but matched Mt. Vernon’s game by beating 5-3A champ Van Alstyne 32-26.
Give Hughes Springs a tip of the cap – the Mustangs had Gladewater tied up 21-21 at the half last week and had an upset in mind before falling 35-21.
Jefferson’s path forward is presently blocked by Malakoff’s Tigers. The black-and-gold finished the regular season right where Dave Campbell’s predicted (second behind Kemp) but they’re very much like the Howe and Whitesboro teams that the Bulldogs faced each of the past two playoff seasons – big up front and stout on defense.
While Jefferson has surrendered the fewest points in Region II – 134 points total (12.2 ppg), the team behind them on the scoring defense list is Friday’s opponent. Malakoff has given up just 167 points this season in 10 games and along with Jefferson and Mt. Vernon, forms the trio of teams in the region to allow fewer than 200 points.
Linebackers Colby Rush and Everardo Garcia are always around the football while Jefferson coaches describe three defensive linemen as “big, strong and physical” and the other six-foot, six-inch end as “rangy.” Malakoff’s offense may have out-gained expectations this season – a lot of new skillies – but it’s easier paddling against Dallas Life Oak Cliff and Dallas A+ Academy.
Antwain Jimmerson and his Bulldogs are almost fully set for this but for the remaining sting of Eric Gibson’s absence. Still, Jefferson’s defense is deep and you just don’t find anything to worry about on the line, in a ferocious linebacking corps and a ball-hawking, hard-hitting secondary.
A lot of people figured the Jefferson-Atlanta game would be a high-scoring shootout and it turned out Jefferson did all the shooting. The two defenses make this one look like a low scoring game but both offenses can explode. It’s gonna be a lot of fun to see ‘em get after it Friday afternoon in Mineola.
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