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Football: Game of the week for Wednesday, August 29, 2018

By Messenger Staff | Published Wednesday, August 29, 2018
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Decatur faces early test; Eagles travel to No. 7 Kennedale for opener

7:30 p.m. Wildcat Stadium
Harris Line: Kennedale by 14

There will be few easy games for the Decatur Eagles this year.

Friday night’s regular season opener is no exception.

In their first game since losing in the 4A Region I quarterfinal last year, the Eagles will travel to Kennedale to take on the No. 7 Wildcats. Kennedale went 14-2 in 2017, falling to Carthage in the 4A Division I title game.

“We’re excited about it,” said Decatur coach Mike Fuller. “Our kids really don’t get intimidated and don’t worry about someone’s reputation and what they look like. They’re going to go out and compete. They are looking forward to it.”

The Wildcats’ offense is led by senior running back DJ Kirven, who ran for 2,191 yards and 41 touchdowns in 2017.

Kennedale’s Wing-T averaged 374.1 yards rushing last year and 52.4 points per game.

“They’re explosive, but they are also happy with getting three or four yards and just mashing it down the field,” Fuller said. “They’re going to be big, physical and athletic. It’s a power-type offense, but it has a lot of misdirection. You have to really read your keys and make sure you’re in the right spot.”

The Kennedale defense was stingy, allowing just 19.6 points per game last season. The Wildcats recorded a pair of shutouts.

For Decatur’s offense to get rolling, the Eagles will need to establish the ground game with A.J. Martinez. The junior was pivotal in Decatur’s playoff push last year and racked up 1,369 yards and 18 scores.

“He’s what makes everything go,” Fuller said. “Not to say it’s all him, but being able to establish a run game with our line, creating creases and him finding them. He’s hard to tackle. He’s a quick, powerful kid. That should help us be able to throw the ball, and vice-versa.”

Under center, the Eagles will turn to junior Roman Fuller, who took over for all-state quarterback Wilson Hicks. Roman will direct Decatur’s up-tempo attack.

Coach Fuller hopes the Eagles’ high-octane approach can keep Kennedale on its heels and neutralize its blitz packages.

“What our tempo does, usually, is teams that like to do a lot on defense end up doing less,” he said. “We haven’t played [Kennedale] the last two years, but my first two years here we scrimmaged them, and they come after you. They don’t try to hide much.”

BEST OF THE REST

Little Elm at Northwest
7 p.m. Northwest ISD Stadium
Harris Line: Little Elm by 3

After narrowly missing out on the playoffs last year, the Northwest Texans open the 2018 regular season Friday at home against Little Elm.

Northwest returns several starters this season, including senior all-state running back DeMareus Hosey and all-district safety Cooper McDonald. Hosey ran for 1,460 yards and 14 scores in 2017, helping the Texans’ offense average 38.3 points. McDonald recorded 104 tackles, six pass breakups and two interceptions.

Northwest and Little Elm did not qualify for the playoffs last year. The Texans went 6-4 overall and 3-4 in District 6-5A Division I. Little Elm was 7-3 overall and 4-3 in District 14-5A.

Pilot Point at Bridgeport

7:30 p.m. Bull Memorial Stadium
Harris Line: Pilot Point by 3

The Bridgeport Bulls snapped a two-year playoff drought last season and will try to build on that success when they host Pilot Point Friday.

Bridgeport lost its first five games in 2017, but picked up two key district victories over Krum and Vernon to secure a spot in the postseason. The Bulls are led on offense by junior quarterback Jadon Maddux.

Maddux was a first-team all-district selection and the Wise County Co-Offensive Newcomer of the Year last season, throwing for 2,142 yards and 16 touchdowns. On the ground, Maddux ran for 864 yards and 13 scores.

Pilot Point and Bridgeport both went 3-8 in 2017. The Bulls lost in the bi-district round to Godley. Pilot Point fell to Grandview in the opening round 54-7.

Paradise at S&S Consolidated

7:30 p.m. Ram Stadium
Harris Line: Pick

Joe Koch will make his Paradise head coaching debut Friday when Paradise travels to Sadler to play S&S Consolidated. Koch took over for former head coach and Texas High School Football Hall of Fame member Ronnie Gage, who retired in May.

S&S is coached by Gage’s son, James.

Ronnie Gage went 7-13 in two seasons with the Panthers. Paradise has not made the playoffs in nine years.

The Panthers went 3-7 overall and 1-4 in District 4-3A Division I last season. Paradise returns multiple starters on both sides of the ball, including juniors Jace Essig, Mitchell Sellars and Jack Ishmael.

S&S posted a 6-5 mark and 3-3 record in District 6-3A Division II last year. The Rams were shutout by Jacksboro 30-0 in the bi-district round of the playoffs.

Nocona at Boyd

7:30 p.m. J.G. Cartwright Field at Yellowjacket Stadium
Harris Line: Nocona by 5

The Yellowjackets bounced back from a winless 2016 campaign by making the playoffs last year and will look to continue trending upward when they welcome in Nocona Friday.

Boyd went 3-8 in 2017, knocking off rival Paradise in the final game of the regular season to sneak into the postseason. The Yellowjackets fell to Comanche 40-21 in the bi-district round.

Sophomore linebacker Nick Taylor, the 2017 District 4-3A Division I Newcomer of the Year, anchors the middle of the field for Boyd. He tallied 124 tackles, included eight for losses last year.

Taylor will be tasked with helping slow down Nocona’s high-octane offense that averaged 48.5 points last season. The Indians posted an 8-3 overall record in 2017.

Electra at Alvord

7 p.m. Bulldog Stadium
Harris Line: Alvord by 3

Alvord returns 10 starters on defense and hopes that formula will translate into wins as the Bulldogs host Electra Friday.

Electra knocked off Alvord 17-7 last year, finishing with a 5-6 overall record. The Tigers lost in the bi-district round to Santo.

The Bulldogs ended 2017 at 2-9, collecting victories over Olney and rival Chico. Alvord is led on defense by linebacker Shea Buckaloo. The senior tallied 117 tackles and two fumble recoveries last season.

Chico at Petrolia

7 p.m. Pirate Stadium
Harris Line: Petrolia by 9

Clay Sanders will make his debut Friday as Chico’s head coach when the Dragons travel to Petrolia.

Chico finished last season 3-8 overall and 1-3 in District 5-2A. The Dragons graduated all-district quarterback Jerod Blanks, who threw for 956 yards and rushed for 794 yards in 2017.

Petrolia went 5-6 last year and 2-3 in District 7-2A. The Pirates averaged 26.9 points in 2017.

Victory Christian at Covenant Classical

7:30 p.m. Cavaliers Field

Victory Christian went 6-4 last season and failed to qualify for the Texas Christian Athletic Fellowship Division II six-man semifinal for the first time since they started playing varsity in 2015.

The Patriots have no intention of letting that happen again.

Victory Christian opens the regular season against Covenant Classical Friday. Sophomore Grant Shriver will step into the starting quarterback role this year.

The Patriots will be under the direction of head coach Joe Berry.

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