SPORTS HEADLINES

Hirschi, Decatur set for rematch; Eagles hope to slow down Foster

By Reece Waddell | Published Wednesday, November 28, 2018
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Dragging Him Down

DRAGGING HIM DOWN – Decatur senior Beau Bedford dives to make a tackle during the Eagles’ win over Andrews in the area round. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

For the third straight year, the Decatur Eagles will face a familiar opponent in the playoffs.

In 2016, Decatur beat Stephenville in the regular season and then eliminated them in the bi-district round. Last year, District 4-4A I foe Wichita Falls Hirschi knocked off the Eagles in the regular season and then again in the region quarterfinals.

The team that won the regular season matchup has won the playoff game the past two years, and Decatur is hoping that streak continues Friday when they meet Hirschi in a rematch.

The Eagles handed the Huskies their second loss Oct. 12, stunning Hirschi in a massive 22-21 upset to open district play. The Huskies have not lost since and enter the 4A Division I Region I regional matchup at 10-2.

Breaking Away

BREAKING AWAY – Decatur’s Gunner Ragsdale carries the ball during the Eagles’ win over Andrews in the area round.

“[We have] the confidence of knowing it’s possible. We’ve already done it once,” said Decatur coach Mike Fuller. “There’s a lot of great things about this. There’s a chance to return the favor – two losses last year to the same team – returning that favor this year would be pretty rewarding.”

After finishing the regular season 4-6, Decatur has won two straight, claiming bi-district and area titles.

The Eagles have used a balanced offensive attack in each of their playoff victories, spearheaded by quarterback Roman Fuller. The junior has completed 80.7 percent of his passes this postseason, throwing for 882 yards and 10 touchdowns against one interception.

Last week against Andrews, Roman Fuller completed passes to seven different receivers. Decatur has averaged 570 yards the past two weeks.

“Being spread and getting it to different guys is something I think has been really effective,” Coach Fuller said. “We’ve been running to a five-man box and throwing to everything else.”

Coach Fuller said for Decatur offensively, the key will be picking up and recognizing Hirschi’s exotic blitz packages.

“They bring more elaborate blitzes than anybody else,” Coach Fuller said. “They’re going to play a lot of man coverage. If we can beat man coverage, we’ll have some shots, and if we can’t, it’s going to be a long night. ”

Defensively, the Eagles will be tasked with slowing down all-state running back and TCU commit Daimarqua Foster.

Foster has rushed for 2,682 yards and 39 touchdowns this year. He’s run for more than 100 yards in each game and ran for 194 yards against Decatur earlier this season. It was his third-lowest total of the year.

In two games against the Eagles last season, Foster torched Decatur to the tune of 840 yards and nine touchdowns.

“He’s got great balance,” Coach Fuller said. “He’s incredibly fast and is strong and powerful. I think a lot of times he just runs mad. If you run angry, that makes you hard to tackle.

“We’ve got to get off blocks. We’re not going to make very many one-on-one tackles against him. We’ve got to get a lot of people to him and try to get a good shot on him and hope other guys can get there.”

Hirschi will be without starting quarterback Nate Downing, who suffered a season-ending ACL injury against Mineral Wells in the regular season finale. The Huskies have turned to linebacker Fred Fleeks to take snaps under center, and as a result, do not throw the ball much.

In Hirschi’s two playoff games, Fleeks is 2-of-10 through the air.

The winner of Friday’s game will advance to play the winner of Canyon and Hereford in the quarterfinal next week.

“Our kids are feeling confident,” Coach Fuller said. “We know they’re really good. There’s nothing about it that’s going to be easy. But that doesn’t mean we’re not going to believe we can’t get it done.

“I think the biggest thing is there have been only two other teams in Decatur’s history that have played in the fourth round. If we can do that, it would be great. That’s all you need for motivation there.”

4A DIVISION I REGION I REGIONAL

Decatur vs. Wichita Falls Hirschi
7 p.m. Newton Field at Graham High School

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