It’s time to put the non-district schedule – the good and the bad – behind them, as the Kilgore Bulldogs’ football program embarks on the 2019 District 10-4A, Division I schedule this week.

Kilgore, off a week ago after a 3-2 start, will host Chapel Hill this Friday in the district opener for both teams. Kickoff here at R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium is set for 7:30 p.m.

Get tickets early for a bit cheaper at the athletic department office on campus (in the transportation building now), or get them at the gate, at regular price. The game can be heard live on KDOK 105.3-FM, with the Ragin’ Red Broadcasting team in their 38th season of calling Kilgore football, and also hear that broadcast online at kdokradio.com.

Chapel Hill, also the Bulldogs, is a longtime opponent for Kilgore. The Bulldogs beat Chapel Hill last year, and lead the all-time series, 32-8.

Chapel Hill has had some tough roads in recent years, since being a state title contender about a decade ago. Jeff Riordan is Chapel Hill’s coach and athletic director now, and under Riordan, CHHS is scoring some points, although it’s been a see-saw season.

They won their season opener in a 42-0 blowout of Crandall, but lost to Whitehouse by a little more than a touchdown (46-39), had their season low in points against perennial state power Argyle (62-7), smashed Bullard (64-23), and then lost to state contender Pleasant Grove (63-21).

Chapel Hill had an open date last week, as Kilgore did.

Riordan has a winning history. He was at Class 5A Crosby for seven seasons, getting them to the playoffs in six of them, and winning four district titles. He guided Crosby all the way to the 5A state semifinals in 2014. And he was the offensive coordinator at Sulphur Springs for its state title season over Dayton in 2008.

They’ll face a Kilgore team that is hungry after a three-win season a year ago, a Kilgore program that has made the playoffs every year save two since 1995; a Kilgore program with 530 wins in its history, 69 of them since Mike Wood moved from defensive coordinator to head coach in 2010.

Kilgore had to deal with a few injuries the last two games, both losses (to Texas High at home, then at Pittsburg almost two weeks ago), but hopefully is bringing a mostly healthy team into this district opener.

The Bulldogs’ offensive line – Calvin Woodside, Brayden Johnson, Josh Flores, Devin Coleman and C.J.  Brown – has helped Kilgore already to 1,686 yards this year.

Kilgore is a more balanced offense than they’ve been in recent years, with a confident Dalton McElyea, a junior in his first year as a starter, at the trigger at quarterback. McElyea is 55-of-97 for 654 yards, eight touchdowns and three interceptions.

Ten different players have caught passes from McElyea this year. Brian Brown leads with 13 catches for 166 yards and two scores. DaVondrick Crowe has 12 catches for 119 yards and a score, and Donovan Adkins has seven catches for 122 yards, and leads the team in receiving touchdowns, with three.

Kennieth Lacy and Trey Epps, both back from a year ago, are a strong one-two punch out of the backfield. Lacy has ran for 513 yards on 68 carries (about 7 ½ yards a carry) and seven touchdowns. Epps, who missed the Pittsburg game with an injury, has 417 yards on 49 carries (8 ½ a carry) and five scores.

The Bulldogs’ defense is creating turnovers – they have 10 (four fumble recoveries, six interceptions) through five games. They have six sacks this season (Kaden Kenney and Deundre Blanton each have two, and Brantley Propes and Kentravious Anderson one each), and would love for that number to go up.

Trey Williams leads Kilgore in tackles for loss (five); Kenney is second with four. Adkins, in the secondary on defense, and Jayce McFarland, each have two of those interceptions. Brian Brown and Dalton Smith have the other two.

Brown also leads the team in total tackles (67); McFarland has 46; Sam Witt has 40; and Adkins, 36.

On 55 opponents’ offensive possessions, Kilgore’s defense has only been flagged 12 times for 134 penalty yards. They’ve given up 77 first downs this season, and have allowed 1,681 yards, about 336 a game.

Looking ahead for a moment, Kilgore visits Henderson next week; hosts Van on Oct. 25; visits Palestine Nov. 1; and hosts Carthage Nov. 8 to close out the regular season. The top four teams in the district make the playoffs.

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