SPORTS HEADLINES

Game of the Week: Battle of 114 – Paradise at Boyd

By Reece Waddell | Published Wednesday, October 10, 2018
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Barelling Ahead

BARRELING AHEAD – Boyd quarterback Kody Risenhoover runs the ball during a game against Nocona. Messenger photo by Kelly Basting

7:30 p.m.
J.G. Cartwright Field at Yellowjacket Stadium

Harris Line: Boyd by 7

In last year’s regular season finale, Paradise did not even have to beat Boyd to secure their first playoff berth since 2008.

All the Panthers had to do was not lose by 10 or more to claim the fourth and final playoff spot in District 4-3A I. But the Yellowjackets had other ideas.

Boyd came away with a 29-13 victory, prolonging Paradise’s postseason drought. To make matters worse, the loss catapulted their rival into the playoffs.

The way 2017 ended is still fresh on the minds of many Panthers, and Friday, they will get their first crack at redemption when they travel to take on Boyd in the Battle of 114.

“It’s for a piece of that pavement,” said Paradise coach Joe Koch. “It’s huge and has everything on the line. It’s one you highlight. We’re treating every game like a playoff game, and Boyd is the same way. They got us last year, so we’ll see. We know we have our work cut out for us.”

Surveying the Field

SURVEYING THE FIELD – Paradise quarterback Jace Essig drops back to pass during a game against Whitesboro. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Paradise enters the game fresh off a 38-27 win over Ponder. Boyd is coming off a bye, beating Ponder 35-14 two weeks ago. The Panthers are 1-1 in 4-3A I and 4-2 overall, while the Yellowjackets are 1-0 in league play and 3-2 overall.

With three top 30 Class 3A teams in their district (Brock, Whitesboro and Pilot Point), both schools know this week’s showdown will have even more on the line than normal.

“You’ve got us, Bowie and Paradise as the other three [teams in our district] that are fighting for that third and fourth [playoff] spot,” said Boyd coach Brandon Hopkins. “From the outside looking in, this game has a lot of playoff implications.”

Paradise and Boyd are both dealing with injuries to key players.

The Panthers’ starting middle linebacker, Trey Valentine, tore his ACL in the third game of the year against Jacksboro and is out for the remainder of the season. The Yellowjackets lost their leading receiver and 4-3A I selection from 2017, Koby Miller, to a broken collarbone.

Although Boyd lost one of its top weapons, Hopkins said the Yellowjackets still have plenty Paradise will have to contend with. Boyd has three players with more than 180 yards receiving. Junior Brian Couture has hauled in 32 passes for 486 yards and four touchdowns. Boyd is averaging 375 yards of offense.

“They’re going to have to really worry about us on the outside and in the slot,” Hopkins said. “We’ve had pretty good success throwing the ball.”

For Paradise, the Panthers will lean heavily on dual-threat quarterback Jace Essig. The junior racked up four touchdowns – two passing and two rushing – in last week’s win over Ponder.

On the outside, Essig’s favorite target has been 6-5 tight end Mitchell Sellers. He caught one of Essig’s touchdown passes last week and snagged seven catches for 85 yards against Whitesboro.

“They throw the ball a lot more than they have in the past,” Hopkins said. “Essig is a good quarterback and he can run. They’ve got Sellers on the outside and they will try to get some mismatches with him. But our defense has been playing well.”

Boyd has owned the rivalry for the last decade, posting an 8-2 mark against the Panthers dating back to 2008. One of Paradise’s wins came in 2016 – the year the Yellowjackets went 0-10.

The other came in 2008, – which coincidentally, was the last time the Panthers made the playoffs.

“I don’t think they’ve been to the playoffs since 2008, and this is one of their better teams that they’ve had,” Hopkins said. “It’s the Battle of 114, plus you put that on top of battling for a playoff spot. It’s going to be a good night as far as the crowd and what’s at stake.”

BEST OF THE REST

O.D. WYATT AT NORTHWEST

7 p.m.
Thursday Northwest ISD Stadium

Northwest will try to win four in a row and move to 3-0 in District 4-5A Division II when they host O.D. Wyatt Thursday.

The Texans routed Eastern Hills 59-0 last week behind a dominant performance from quarterback Austin Ahmad. The junior completed 73.3 percent of his passes, throwing for 319 yards and six touchdowns.

Northwest’s potent offense is averaging 36.3 points and 376.8 yards. Wyatt enters the game 2-2 and is winners of its last two games, having beaten Trimble Tech and Poly.

Harris Line: Northwest by 37

Looking for Room

LOOKING FOR ROOM – Decatur junior A.J. Martinez runs the ball during a game against Midlothian Heritage earlier this year. Martinez is the Eagles’ leading rusher this season, compiling 443 yards and five touchdowns on the ground through five games. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

WICHITA FALLS HIRSCHI AT DECATUR

7 p.m.
Eagle Stadium

Last season when Daimarqua Foster and the Hirschi Huskies came to town, Foster torched the Decatur defense to the tune of 581 rushing yards and six touchdowns.

The Eagles will once again be tasked with slowing him down Friday.

Decatur has lost three straight games – the longest losing streak of the Mike Fuller era – and will try to get back on track in its District 4-4A I opener against the No. 8 Huskies.

The Eagles’ defense has been gashed most of the season, as opponents are averaging 56.2 points and over 500 yards. Decatur is 1-4 overall and coming off a bye week. Hirschi is 4-1.

Harris Line: Hirschi by 31

BRIDGEPORT AT KRUM

7 p.m.
Bobcat Stadium

The Bridgeport Bulls will look to extend their winning streak to five games when they travel to take on 0-5 Krum Friday in their District 2-4A II opener.

Bridgeport has knocked off Bowie, Sanger, Lake Worth and Gainesville since falling to Pilot Point in the season opener. The Bulls have averaged 31.8 points during their win streak.

A win would move Bridgeport to 5-1, its best start since 2010. The Bulls went 9-3 that year, advancing to the area round of the playoffs.

Harris Line: Bridgeport by 15

CHICO AT LINDSAY

7:30 p.m.
Henry B. Schroeder Knight Field

Chico and Lindsay will square off in their District 4-2A I opener when the Dragons hit the road to take on the Knights Friday.

Both teams are coming off losses. Chico fell to Archer City 15-14 last week, while Lindsay was thumped by Collinsville 36-7.

The Dragons and Knights are 3-3 on the season.

Harris Line: Lindsay by 7

VICTORY CHRISTIAN AT HERITAGE CHRISTIAN

7 p.m
Heritage Christian Field

Victory Christian will try to get over the .500 mark Friday when they meet District 2 foe Heritage Christian.

The Patriots were off last week. Heritage is coming off a 112-88 loss to Azle Christian.

Victory is 2-2 on the season. Heritage is 3-1.

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