The West Rusk Raiders haven’t lost since last Thanksgiving. Sabine overcame a dismal 2020 to look much like it did in its best season ever, back in 2019. And Leverett’s Chapel? Well, the earliest part of the season, all the Lions wanted was to get ONTO the field, and now they’re headed back to the six-man playoffs.

Everybody’s got their own “stuff,” so to speak, and it all hits the postseason this weekend.

West Rusk: Coach Nick Harrison’s Raiders are 10-0, and really haven’t been challenged, not in a tight way. And they are ranked number one in the very-local #bEASTTexas Fabulous 15 3A/2A/TAPPs poll.

They’ll open the UIL Class 3A Division II playoffs a little earlier than most: the Raiders will play tonight at nearby Tatum, a neutral site for West Rusk’s game against the Hooks Hornets.

Obviously, the season ends for the losing team. The winner advances to the area, or second, round, to face either New Waverly (8-2) or Hughes Springs (4-5). If West Rusk wins, and Hughes Springs manages to get past New Waverly somehow, it would produce a rematch from last fall between the Raiders and Hughes Springs.

That Raiders team blew by Hughes Springs en route to a matchup with Waskom, who ultimately ended West Rusk’s 2020 season.

To face Waskom this year, the Raiders and Waskom would both need to make the fourth round, it appears.

As for this weekend’s opponent, Hooks, the Hornets are 4-6 overall, finished their district with a 3-3 record, and come off a 65-31 beat-down of Prairiland. Before that, though, they had back-to-back losses to DeKalb and Daingerfield.

West Rusk did Friday what they’ve done all year: they laid the smack down on Quitman, 49-7. That’s nothing new. In fact, West Rusk scored at least 38 points in eight of its 10 games so far this year, and scored at least 49 in seven of them.

Raiders quarterback Andon Mata was as good as usual: 9-of-11, 223 yards, three touchdowns. Geremiah Smith had three catches, two of them touchdowns, and 143 yards in the win.

Sabine: After missing the playoffs last season, coach Rex Sharp and the Cardinals stunned state-ranked Tatum a week ago to claim the number two seed in the UIL Class 3A Division I playoffs out of District 6 – Gladewater beat both Sabine and Tatum, and goes in at number one.

The Cardinals (7-3) beat everyone in their district except Gladewater, and won six of their last seven games. They’ll open the playoffs Friday night at 7 p.m. at Bullard’s Panther Stadium against Mineola (6-4), and be careful about writing off Mineola. That’s a team that – while the coaching staff is different – has been to a couple of state title games in the last decade, and gave top-ranked West Rusk its best game of the season about five weeks ago.

Sabine was masterful in the 28-27 win over Tatum, to earn this spot. The Cardinals got an unreal performance from defensive back Cayden Fortson, who had three interceptions, including one for a touchdown and one that ended the Eagles’ chances to win the game.

Quarterback Jace Burns was back to his usual self, rushing for 136 yards and two touchdowns, and even though the Cardinals didn’t have the injured Brannigan Willige, they did have Daylon Branham, who rushed for 117 yards in the win. Defensively, in addition to Fortson, Chance Owens had 15 tackles, a forced fumble and a sack, and Kile Stripland had a 65-yard return for a touchdown and 10 tackles.

The Sabine-Mineola winner will face either Fairfield (4-7) or West (10-0) in round two.

Leverett’s Chapel: The Lions bounced back from an off-again, on-again schedule to win every single district game except one, and have gotten back to the UIL Class 1A, or six-man, postseason.

LC (5-2 overall, 3-1 in district) will take on a familiar foe, Saint Jo (8-2), this Friday night at 7 p.m. at Prairiland.

It’s a rematch of a first-round game last year, in which Saint Jo knocked LC from the playoffs, 74-38.

The LC-Saint Jo winner will face either Blum (5-5) or Coolidge (6-4) in round two.

LC whipped Fruitvale last Friday night, 59-14.

De’Marion Brown went 1-of-2 passing for 30 yards, a touchdown. Mikey Dennis went 5-of-10 for 86 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

De’Quincy Brown rushed for 135 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. De’Marion had 30 yards and two scores on six carries, and Daylon Atkinson, a freshman, ran for 19 yards on a carry.

Jonathan Peery had a 42-yard catch; Dennis had a 30-yard touchdown catch; Dylan Harris had a 35-yard touchdown catch; and De’Quincy had a 9-yard catch. The Lions had 292 total yards.

De’Marion Brown led the team in tackles in the game (20), and added an interception. Peery was right behind in tackles (16). They both each had three tackles for loss.

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