For almost 30 years, Kilgore High School’s journeys in football took them to about every stadium on the eastern side of the state, saw them venture deep into the playoffs on most years, and have a pair of state championship game appearances: one, a win to complete the perfect season in 2004, and another, a near-perfect year before finishing state runner-up.
But in all of those seasons, with ups and downs (very few downs), Kilgore kept a streak going: an unbeaten streak over Pine Tree.
That came to a bit of a shocking end a season ago, as Kilgore was stunned by the Pirates at Pirate Stadium.
This Friday night, Kilgore intends to return the favor.
Coach Mike Wood’s Ragin’ Red are 2-0 and have played programs from two bigger classifications (Nacogdoches and Hallsville, both in 5A). They’ll play a third straight 5A team this Friday night against the Pirates, at home at R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium. It’s Kilgore’s 2019 home opener.
Tickets for the game are on sale through Friday morning at the school’s athletic office (now in the transportation building on campus). Hear the game on KDOK 105.3-FM, and kdokradio.com – the Ragin’ Red Broadcasting team had some technical issues last week, but will be back on the air Friday, their 38th season to call Kilgore football.
Kilgore continues a strong non-district schedule, by hosting Pine Tree. The Bulldogs will be home next week, too, hosting Texas High, and then will wrap that portion of the schedule up by going to Pittsburg on Sept. 27.
The Ragin’ Red takes Oct. 4 off, and then hosts an improved Chapel Hill team on Oct. 11, to start the District 10-4A, Division I schedule. Kilgore went an un-Kilgore-like 3-8 last year, but kept the program’s playoff streak alive, making it as the fourth seed from the district, losing in the first round to Midlothian Heritage.
In spite of the win over Kilgore – which likely made their 2018 season – the Pirates’ non-district success didn’t translate to their district schedule. Coach Kerry Lane’s team finished 5-5, and went 3-4 in district play.
So far this year, that .500 trend continues. The Pirates dropped 47 points on Bullard in a week-one win, but then hosted Pittsburg for homecoming last weekend, and got beat, XX-XX. Even in defeat, quarterback D.J. Freeman was impressive, going 18-of-34 for 302 yards and three touchdowns, and on the season, he’s 30-of-63 for 532 yards and five scores.
His main target through two weeks has been Gabe Adams. Adams had 11 catches for 223 yards and two scores against Pittsburg, and has 16 catches for 350 yards and four touchdowns.
Expect Texas Tech commit J. Sparkman to be on the field Friday night for PT, though. He missed the game against Bullard.
By the way, for the record, Kilgore might have lost last year, but the Bulldogs still own a comfortable 33-10-1 edge in the series.
Kilgore’s 2019 season so far has been at two different ends of the spectrum: a 17-14 win that took almost the entire clock, and last week, a 48-24 drubbing of Hallsville on the Bobcats’ home turf that might have actually been worse, had there not been a couple of turnovers.
The Ragin’ Red’s offensive line – center Brayden Johnson, Calvin Woodside, Josh Flores, Devin Coleman and C.J. Brown – just dominated, and running backs Kennieth Lacy, Trey Epps, and later, Kentrell Roy, did their part, as well.
Lacy got the headlines because he finished with 204 yards on the ground and scored four times – that’s one touchdown shy of a KHS single-game record, held by several former Bulldogs. Epps finished with 164 yards and two scores, and Roy didn’t score, but came in late in the game and got 76 yards. The Bulldogs finished with 436 yards rushing.
Dalton McElyea, a junior making his second-ever varsity start at quarterback, completed 6-of-8 passes for 66 yards and a score, to Donovan Adkins in the second half. McElyea looks far from a new varsity player. His six completions went to five different players.
Also, Jose Jaime shook off an early missed extra point to go 4-of-5 on them for the night. He only had to punt twice, but averaged a pretty good 35 yards a punt.
In the two games Kilgore’s played so far, the Bulldogs already have 542 yards rushing (Lacy with 254, Epps with 236), and McElyea is 18-of-31 for 181 yards, two touchdowns (both to Adkins) and an interception. Brian Brown has five catches for 34 yards; Adkins has two for 65, both touchdowns; and Billy Bell and DaVonrdick Crowe each have three catches.
Defensively against Hallsville, Kentravious Anderson, Brantley Propes and Deundre Blanton each had a sack; Brown had 14 tackles and an interception; Kaden Thrower, Anderson and Propes each had a fumble recovery from a generous Hallsville offense; Sam Witt, Anderson and Kaden Kenney all also got after the quarterback – Witt and Anderson had a hurry, and Kenney had two. Kenney, Witt, Brown and Zack Williams each had a tackle for loss.