It does seem as though the two unbeaten teams in District 9-4A, Division I –that’d be Kilgore and Lindale – are on a collision course.
But thoughts of a de facto district championship game on the final weekend of the regular season will have to wait. Both teams have business to take care of first.
For coach Mike Wood’s Kilgore Bulldogs (4-2 overall, 2-0 in district play), that’s a trip to Chapel Hill (4-3, 1-2) on Friday night, a 7:30 p.m. kickoff with those “other” Bulldogs as the host.
If you want to listen from home, do so with the Ragin’ Red Broadcasting team on KDOK 105.3-FM, or hear that broadcast online at kdokradio.com.
No matter how it finishes up, Chapel Hill’s version of the Bulldogs have already had a wild season. They started with three straight wins over Splendora, Kaufman and Terrell – wins all, but Chapel Hill was giving up a ton of points (33, 33 and 42, respectively).
Then came a trip to Center, whose running game is one of the best in East Texas. Chapel Hill didn’t escape. In fact, they lost, 55-14.
That was Sept. 18, and they’ve won just once since (a road game at Athens on Sept. 25, a 37-25 Chapel Hill victory. In the two games since, Chapel Hill lost, 52-6 at home to Lindale, and 56-28 at Palestine (a week ago).
For Chapel Hill to have a chance at the UIL’s Class 4A playoffs, this Friday night against Kilgore might be a must-win.
Kilgore’s Bulldogs have won back-to-back games, both in district, since losing that wild contest to Gladewater back on Sept. 18. Kilgore also had an open date mixed in there (Oct. 2), and is about to hit its stretch run: at Chapel Hill this Friday; at home against Henderson next Friday, Oct. 23; at Athens on Oct. 30; and at home against Lindale in the Nov. 6 regular season finale.
KHS defensive coordinator Chad Loper is in his first year in the role, replacing his father Les, after retirement. The younger Loper has put together a very good defense – numbers-wise, except for the number of turnovers, it might be the best defensive unit since the one that helped Kilgore get to a state title game appearance against Carthage in 2003.
Against Mabank last week, a 35-7 Kilgore win, Brian Brown had eight tackles for KHS; Chris Ervin and Eli Caruthers each had seven. Donovan Adkins and Hunter Lewis each had four, Davin Rider had three. Kaden Kenney, Marcaelin Caraway and Brantley Propes each had two, and Alex Chavez and Corey Rider each had one.
Ervin, Chris McGee, Jacari Banks, and Peyton Christian each had a tackle for loss. Lewis had two quarterback hurries, and Kenney had one.
Kilgore made Mabank’s passing game completely helpless, holding the Panthers to just 7 passing yards. Mabank did manage 230 rushing yards.
Offensively, Kilgore running back Tray Epps put on a show: 156 rushing yards and four touchdowns. This season, Epps is Kilgore’s leading rusher and it’s not close. He’s got 663 yards and eight touchdowns on 92 carries. Against Mabank, Kendarrius Anderson ran hard late, including runs of 23, 17 and 13 yards, and finished with 59 yards.
Quarterback Dalton McElyea had a rushing touchdown and went 10-of-14 for 158 yards, and the tipped-ball interception. Adkins caught four of those passes for 96 yards. Dadrian Franklin had two catches for 15 yards. Also, Matthew Tyeskie, Cade Pippen, Brian Brown and Corey Rider each had a catch. Chris Baldazo went 5-of-5 in extra points.