Although the last two weeks have been disappointing, Kilgore High School football has shown glimpses of something that makes the world of difference for any team: potential.
Kilgore has an open date this week, the calm before the likely storm that will be the District 10-4A, Division I schedule. And that might not be a storm in a bad way. If the Ragin’ Red can find their rhythm that they had two weeks ago, when they were 3-0, the 2019 season still has plenty of opportunities.
The Bulldogs reeled off three straight wins to start the year: a 17-14 close call at Nacogdoches that saw both the offense and the defense make big plays in the final two minutes; a just-the-opposite scene in Hallsville, with Kilgore pulling away and ultimately beating down the Bobcats, 48-24 (and not as close as it sounded), and then a fantastic finish to a wild 64-62 triple overtime home win over Pine Tree.
KHS came back to earth, though, the last two weeks, losing at home to Texas High, then on the road last week in Pittsburg, and truthfully, injuries have played a role in the season.
Hopefully, though, coach Mike Wood’s Ragin’ Red will get a few of those players back, and be ready for the stretch run for the district schedule. That begins next Friday, Oct. 11, at home against Chapel Hill.
Following that, Kilgore goes to Henderson (Oct. 18), hosts Van (Oct. 25), visits Palestine (Nov. 1), and finishes the regular season with another battle with Carthage here at R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium (Nov. 8).
Other than three turnovers, Kilgore’s offense didn’t play poorly last week in the 13-12 loss at Pittsburg. The Pirates had difficulty stopping running back Kennieth Lacy, but Lacy was injured in the third quarter, which naturally threw the Bulldogs’ game off a bit.
Still, Kilgore looks to have the offensive firepower and defensive talent to make opponents’ Friday nights difficult. The Bulldogs’ offensive line already has helped them rush for 1,018 yards and pass for over 600. Quarterback Dalton McElyea has faced a pair of good defenses in the two losses against Texas High and Pittsburg – Texas High was very aggressive and Pittsburg was fairly talented for a 1-3 team.
McElyea, just a junior, has still played very well for someone with only five games of varsity experience. He’s completed 55-of-97 passes for 654 yards, eight touchdowns and three interceptions (two last week to Pittsburg’s Jamarian Hill).
He’s completed passes to 10 different receivers: Brian Brown (13 catches, 166 yards, two scores) and DaVondrick Crowe (12 for 119 yards and a TD) lead the way. Crowe had a 43-yard catch in the loss last week and fullback Sam Witt had a pair of catches. Donovan Adkins, who seems to be everywhere on the football field for the Bulldogs, has seven catches for 122 yards and three touchdowns (leads the team in that category).
Cade Pippen has six for 61, Billy Bell, eight for 73, and Jayce McFarland, B.J. Owens, and Lacy all have catches.
Lacy and backfield mate Trey Epps have most of the Bulldogs’ rushing yards so far. Lacy has 513 yards and seven touchdowns on 68 carries (he averages 7 ½ per carry) and Epps, who was injured and didn’t play last week, has 417 yards and five scores on 49 carries (8 ½ per carry). Kentrell Roy and Witt also have their numbers called out of the backfield.
Brown, playing in the defensive secondary, had an unbelievable performance against Pittsburg: 21 tackles, one for loss. Deundre Blanton had 10 tackles, two for loss, and Adkins had six tackles and an interception. McFarland, who has been a difference-maker on defense for Kilgore this season and has 46 tackles and two interceptions, was also among those who missed the Bulldogs’ game at Pittsburg last week.
On the year, Brown leads with 67 tackles, two for loss, an interception, a pass break-up and two forced fumbles. McFarland’s 46 tackles are second, and Adkins’ 36 are third. Adkins also has been effective with interceptions and forced two fumbles, blocked two kicks, and has four break-ups.
Kilgore hasn’t had a lot of sacks, but has had some success in the pass rush. Blanton and Kaden Kenney each have two sacks; Brantley Propes and Kentravious Anderson each have one.
Kilgore hopes to do well enough in district (a top-four finish, although a district title would be great) to again make the playoffs, something the Bulldogs have missed only twice (2006 and 2010) since the 1995 season, an incredible run.