Earning their ninth straight win and picking up an area title last week, the Decatur Eagles look to add a third playoff victory to their record.
Decatur (9-3) faces Canyon Randall (9-3) in the 4A Division I regional game 1 p.m. Friday at Abilene Christian University’s Anthony Field at Wildcat Stadium.
“Obviously, it’s our goal to make the playoffs every season. But from there, the goal is to continue to win and be able to play football on Thanksgiving week,” Decatur coach Steve Huff said. “Unless you’ve experienced playing this week, you just don’t know how special of an opportunity it is. It’s a lot of fun, and the practices are really less time-restricted because school’s out.
“We’ve got 12 videos on Randall, so I think we know a little bit about each other. From the get-go, you can see they’re a really good football team. They had a crazy district this year, but they took care of business. I think they’re well-coached and solid all of the way through.”
The Raiders claimed the District 3-4AI title with a 3-1 record. The team dropped its league finale against Hereford, 35-24.
After knocking out Decatur’s district foe Springtown in the first round (31-7), Randall punched its ticket to the regional game with a 27-14 victory over Lubbock Estacado last week.
The Raiders finished with 341 yards of total offense, while Randall’s defense limited the Matadors to 95 rushing and 190 passing.
Randall quarterback Nathan White competed 11 of his 16 passing attempts for 193 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception.
White’s touchdown passes were both caught by running back Riley Davis, who racked up 106 yards on three catches. Kyron Wooten added six receptions for 71 yards.
In the backfield, Davis carried the ball 33 times for 101 yards, and scored on a 29-yard run in the fourth quarter.
“I think Randall’s biggest strength is their defense,” Huff said. “They remind me of us, in terms of alignment. Coverage is a little different, but they have essentially the same defensive philosophy. They’ve got a lot of kids that can run, and they do a good job of mixing in blitzes. We’re expecting them to run a lot of man coverage, which will put an extra guy in their box.
“Offensively, Randall is well-disciplined, that they can run multiple things. They’re very efficient in what they do. They also have the tendency to try to run the clock and keep the ball out of their opponents’ hands.”
The coach is emphasizing to the Eagles the importance of the fundamentals in the team’s third-round match-up.
“There’s a lot of things we need to do, but taking care of the ball is crucial,” Huff said. “We don’t need to get caught up in the change of field position. We know Randall’s going to make plays, but it’s up to us to limit their gains. When they’re on offense, we need to keep their chains long, especially on first downs.”
Decatur claimed its area trophy with a 42-15 win over Andrews Nov. 18 at Clyde High School.
“One of the big things early on was us winning the coin toss and being able to kick with the wind to pin Andrews down,” Huff said. “The kids did a really good job on offense mixing things up with runs and throws. With the wind, getting the scores early was very critical. A wind is one thing, but it gets harder as the game goes on when you’re behind and you’re playing in cold wind. I was very proud of our effort last week.”
Harris line: Decatur by 15