Miami special teams deliver victory
Never underestimate the importance of the kicking game in Six-Man football as Miami showed again why a solid placekicker can win games for you. With seven ticks of the clock left in a battle with McLean, Haiden Thompson hit a 17-yard field goal to propel the Warriors (6-3, 1-1) to a 40-38 victory over McLean (1-1, 7-2). With three minutes to play, Miami (6-3, 1-1) found itself down 38-28. On the ensuing drive the Warriors faced a fourth and 14 and the game hanging in the balance when Thompson hit Micah Hinshaw for a 37-yard completion. That led to the third running score of the night for Thompson and cut the lead to 38-36 after the successful two-point conversion kick. That’s when head coach D.J. Howell asked his team what their preference was. “We think we can get the onside kick so let’s do that coach” quipped Howell and the Warriors did just that as Evan Kelley recovered the kick and gave his team one last chance with 1:20 remaining. Facing a fourth down and four, the Warriors chose not to kick a 38-yard field goal and went for it. Luke Wheeler to a screen from Thompson and picked up 15 yards to the 6-yard line. Two plays later Thompson stepped up and showed the value of a good kicker by nailing it through the uprights and keeping Miami in the playoff chase. Thompson did more than kick as he was 12-of-27 for 170 and two scores through the air while adding 167 yards on the ground on 29 carries.
Week 10 in review
Last week, Follett struggled to topple Miami but had no issue with White Deer this week at home. Behind Shayne Franks and his 172 yards on the ground with three scores the Panthers thumped the Bucks 54-8. Happy (8-1, 2-0) started out quickly against Wildorado (1-8, 0-2) with a 52-yard kickoff return for a score from Camden Sperry and a Joey Blackmon 2-yard plunge with just 1:15 gone off the clock as the Cowboys pummeled the Mustangs 70-0. Thirty miles down the road Nazareth (7-2, 1-1) dismantled Claude 50-0. Any hope of a playoff spot evaporated in the second half as Knox City outscored Valley 28-6 to knock the Patriots (4-5, 0-2) out of the hunt. Taevion Ramos notched 67 yards on the ground and a score, but the Patriots were just unable to overcome the plethora of injuries they incurred this year. Finally, Hedley (4-5, 2-1) kept their playoff hopes alive with a 58-0 win over Darrouzett while Groom (5-5, 4-0) captured a district title with a convincing 52-0 win over Lefors.
Cowboys riding high in Six-Man
This is the 100th year of football at Happy as the town started the sport in 1922 as the Jacks because their first coach, O.R. Bridges, thought his players ran like jackrabbits. The school changed the mascot to Cowboys in 1934 and that mascot has stuck. On the field, it wasn’t until 1948 that Happy would win a regional title, one of only three in 11-man football until the school elected to play Six-Man in the 2000 season. Success in 11-man was fleeting as the Cowboys were only 23 games over .500 in 632 games. Six-Man has been a totally different story for the town whose stadium sits in two different counties. Happy is now 86 games over 500 in 294 games at the Six-Man level with much of that success transpiring over the last ten years. The Cowboys 70-0 win over Wildorado Friday night was the 100th grid win over the last 10 years as Happy has gone 100-24 since 2013. During that time, they have seven seasons with 10 plus wins, six district titles, and three state quarterfinal championships with the eighth ranked squad looking to add to those numbers. The win also notched a ninth playoff appearance in ten seasons and a victory over Claude onFriday night would mean district title number seven. While some schools wrestle with the move from 11-man to six-man, Happy has found the transition a model of success.
All eyes were on Jonesboro this week as the No. 7-ranked Eagles took on No. 2 May in a huge District 14-1A Division I matchup. The Tigers led at half 32-22 but a fumble on their opening possession of the second half led to a Jonesboro touchdown with May holding a four-point lead. Both teams exchanged scores and the Tigers lead 40-36 entering the fourth with Jonesboro driving. The Eagles scored to open the fourth and held May on downs then scored two plays later to go up 51-40 and that was enough as Jonesboro (8-0, 3-0) grabbed a district title and big win over May 59-40. The win also means that May (8-1, 3-1) will now have to face No. 6 Irion County (3-0, 8-0) in the bi-district round. Borden County (5-4, 1-2) saw its streak of 14 straight seasons in the playoffs come to an end thanks to a 44-34 loss to No. 5 Rankin (8-1, 3-0). During that span the Coyotes captured four state titles and a runner up finish. Rankin now faces No. 3 Garden City (8-1, 3-0) with the District 7-1A Division I title on the line. This game has huge implications because the winner not only grabs a district title, but they avoid a matchup with the defending state champs who are ranked No. 4 in Westbrook. The Wildcats (8-1, 4-0) have faced both squads already this year capturing a 59-58 thrilling win over Rankin and falling 46-42 to Garden City.
District 1-1A Division I Possibilities
With a week left all four teams still have a legitimate shot at the playoffs and the scenarios that could play out require a lot of math and scoreboard watching. The district uses a plus-minus on scoring differential with a 24-point cap that could have each head coach watching the scoreboard while toting their respective high school math teacher along to keep them abreast of the possibilities. Follett travels to McLean and Miami hosts White Deer with both games starting at 7 p.m on Friday. Follett (8-1, 2-0) has the best scenario as the Panthers just need to win to capture the district title. However, a loss of more than 14 points to McLean (7-2, 1-1) coupled with a Miami (6-3, 1-1) win and strangely the Panthers would be out as Miami and McLean would represent the district. A McLean win plus a White Deer (5-4, 0-2) win sends Follett and McLean to the playoffs. For the Warriors, they need to win to be in. A loss to White Deer of three or more points coupled with a McLean loss leaves the Warriors and Tigers at home and the Bucks sprinting to the playoffs.
Other playoff scenarios
While District 1-1A Division I could require an advanced degree in math to determine playoff seedings the rest of the districts are a bit simpler. In 2-1A Division I, Happy has clinched a playoff spot and can wrap up a district title with a win over Claude. Nazareth will garner the second spot with a win over Wildorado. Claude is still alive but must beat No. 8 Happy for any shot. In 3-1A Division I, Springlake-Earth has secured a playoff spot and can win a district title by knocking off Kress while also punching Petersburg’s ticket to the playoffs in the process. A Kress win knocks Petersburg out of the playoffs and the Kangaroos can grab the district title with a 17 point or greater win over the Wolverines. For 4-1A Division I it’s simple. Knox City travels to Spur with the winner grabbing the district title and the loser taking second. That simple math also applies to District 1-1A Division II where Groom is the district champ, and the battle of the Owls will determine second as Silverton and Hedley face off to see who straps on the pads next week and who rolls out the basketballs.