After the unforeseen home loss to Cisco, it appeared the Kilgore College Rangers might be coming back to the pack a little bit, after a year-plus of sitting atop the Southwest Junior College Football Conference.
Sometimes, appearances can be deceiving.
The Rangers have stepped up their game since then, and have now won three straight headed into this weekend, their open date. KC is now 6-1, with two regular season games to play, and although they were ranked as high as second in the nation, they had fallen and now have risen back up to number five after winning a top-10 battle with Trinity Valley in Athens last weekend.
KC controls its own destiny completely. The Rangers take this weekend off, then host Blinn (now ranked 20th after losing last weekend) Oct. 19, and close it out with a trip to Tyler Junior College n Oct. 26.
If KC wins both, the Rangers are assured of the regular season conference championship, and the top seed in the SWJCFC playoffs. The top four teams make it, and number one hosts number four on Nov. 2; number two hosts number three. The top seed gets to play at home as long as they’re in it. Just a year ago, KC earned the top seed, then won both playoff games to take the final conference crown.
KC coach Willie Gooden, in his first season (although you’d never know it), can truthfully tell his team that all of the goals they wanted to accomplish before the season are still out there: making the conference playoffs, earning the top seed, winning a second straight conference title, even a national championship if the cards fall right – they’re all out there for the Rangers, in spite of the loss to Cisco.
It took some drama to get out of Athens. Leading 24-23 with a handful of seconds remaining, KC watched Trinity Valley head back onto the field looking to kick a potential game-winning field goal. Gooden called time out to let the TVCC kicker think about the kick, and prepared a plan to block it.
It worked. The kick by Eddie Godina was blocked, time expired, and KC not only won, but reclaimed its spot atop the SWJCFC standings. (See our KC-Trinity Valley story in the regular sports section today) If the playoffs begna today, it would be KC vs. Cisco here again, in a rematch.
The Rangers have been productive in all three phases of the game this season. They’re averaging right at 37 points and just over 500 yards a game, and allowing 337 yards and 23 points a game.
Quarterback Jacob Frazier is 113-of-155 for 1,914 yards, 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions. His two leading targets are Omar Manning and Gabe Douglas. Manning has 35 catches for 727 yards and six touchdowns, and Douglas has 25 for 430 yards and five touchdowns.
Frazier is actually KC’s leading rusher, too, in front of a pack of players that have combined for over 1,400 yards on the ground. Frazier has 310 on 53 carries, for seven scores.
Defensively, a pair of freshmen linebackers – Keith Harris and Quinton Sharkey – lead the team in tackles (each with 58); defensive tackle Kelton Moss has five sacks, and linemate Sedrick Williams has 4 ½; and defensive backs Javari James and Geovonte Howard each have three interceptions. KC as a team has 12.