Sports writers do a lot of talking about numbers.
How many yards did so-and-so pass for? How many rebounds did so-and-so have? What’s so-and-so’s batting average with runners in scoring position? Who ran the fastest at the cross country meet, and how far behind was second place?
And so on, and so on.
For someone who tried to duck a career in math, I’m not sure I did a very good job of it.
Let me drop a sad number on you: 131. You know what that is?
Aside from it being the number of times I feel like I’ve seen Flo The Progressive Saleslady on commercials in the last 24 hours, it’s also the number of losses suffered by the Sabine High School football program since I’ve been here.
Here’s another number: 0.
You know what that is?
That’s the number of losses the Sabine Cardinals have so far this season.
And I want it to stay that way.
Over the last 17 years (in the 18th), the Cardinals have had two winless seasons, four one-win seasons, and five two-win seasons. They’ve had six coaches during my time here, and number six, current coach Rex Sharp, has seen enough.
Not that anyone else did, but Sharp is not here to just collect a paycheck and sooner or later slink off into retirement. Coach Sharp is in this to turn this thing around. And so far, so good. Sabine is 4-0 coming off its open date, and visits Tatum Friday night.
In the past, if one of those two teams came into that game with a 4-0 record, the other with a 2-3 record, almost everyone would say Tatum was the undefeated team. This year, they’d be wrong. Sabine has not even played in a close game yet, not really, and we’re a month into the season.
Sabine is averaging 41 points a game on their side of the scoreboard and has only given up 36 – like only 36 points allowed all season, about nine a game. They’re creating turnovers, not turning the ball over themselves. They’ve got offensive balance. And their schedule isn’t a bunch of cupcakes, either.
The combined record of the teams Sabine has played so far: 13-5. And three of them – Shelbyville, Harleton and Elkhart – only have one loss each, to Sabine.
But, now, business is about to pick up. Tatum is a very good warm-up, and then it’s Winnsboro at Sabine next week. But on the horizon are matchups against West Rusk, Mineola and Gladewater, and the West Rusk and Gladewater games are both on the road. That is a gauntlet.
And that brings me to another number: Zero (again). This time, that represents the number of district championships and of playoff wins in Sabine’s football history, which dates all the way back to 1937.
Let’s get rid of that zero this year. That’s my hope for y’all, Cardinals.
Here’s my last number: 34-5. That’s the combined record of Sabine’s volleyball and football teams. The Lady Cardinals have a 30-win, 5-loss season going. If you’re a Sabine fan, you better get out and watch these girls, or you’ll look like a bandwagon-jumper when they get to the state tournament.
You heard it here first.
Open date for Kilgore: Time to let all the aches and pains from the first five games of the season heal up, and that includes any ego-bruising done in the Bulldogs’ two losses.
I don’t care what anybody says – I watched that Kilgore-Pittsburg game (as I have every Kilgore game since my arrival here) and Pittsburg isn’t nearly as “bad” as that 2-3 record. There’s talent there. Kilgore’s other loss, to Texas High, came to an aggressive defense and a much-improved Tigers team from a year ago.
In other words, neither one of Kilgore’s two losses are what we call “bad” losses, or head-scratchers. Kilgore is much better from a year ago, too, and will probably have new life when they take the field at home against Chapel Hill next weekend.
How about flying under the radar?: Can a team be 5-0 and nobody know it?
Well, not unless they’re not paying attention.
West Rusk is very much 5-0, and was just tested a little bit by Mineola last week, but I would expect that. The Raiders have had great starts the last several years, having won their first six or seven games a year every year dating back to 2015. And this game at home with Gladewater on Friday is a rematch of a game-of-the-year candidate from a year ago.
Looming large is that game against Sabine, also at West Rusk, on Oct. 18. If somehow both teams could get to that game undefeated, it would be, and I’m positive of this, the biggest West Rusk-Sabine football game in history – however long that is.
Speaking of volleyball: I don’t know how many of y’all read our volleyball recaps, but for those who don’t, Kilgore is having a pretty good season, too.
It took a while for the Lady ‘Dogs to get their legs under them, but they’re burning up right now. Since losing the District 16-4A opener at Henderson, they’ve won four straight, are all alone in second place in the district, and welcome district-champion-for-what-seems-like-forever Bullard to town this Friday.
They start at 4:30. That’s varsity. Don’t say you weren’t told. It’s early. But they need some crowd support. I’ll be there. Make plans to join me, unless you’re like, working, and stuff.
C.G Mata would’ve been proud: Longtime Kilgore resident C.G. Mata passed away earlier this year, and he wasn’t able to be in his customary position in the stands to see his grandson, Andon, break free for a 60-plus-yard touchdown against Mineola last week.
Younger Mata plays for West Rusk, where his dad, Rafe, is now the offensive coordinator.
I know he wasn’t in the stands, but I have to believe he saw that touchdown from above. Good job, young man.
KC basketball: Hey, man, basketball isn’t coming, it’s here.
The Rangers and Lady Rangers have already started practicing, and that’s a good thing, because they’ve both got some important dates coming up.
Coach Brian Hoberecht’s Rangers are playing in the Mullens-Mitchell Jamboree in Fort Worth this Friday and Saturday, and after practicing for the month of October, they’ll take part in the Tip-Off Classic in Edmond, Okla., starting Friday, Nov. 1.
KC’s first home game is against Louisiana Christian, just like last year, and it’s Tuesday, Nov. 5, here at Masters Gymnasium.
Coach Addie Lees’ Lady Rangers don’t really crank up until Friday, Nov. 1, and that’s here against the Killeen Force, then again the next day against Southwest Christian on Saturday, Nov. 2.
See this weekend’s News Herald and I’ll try to have a little more detailed information.
NFL power rankings: Everybody else does their 32-team rankings. Not me. That’s too much investment. I don’t like to think that hard, although I do love the NFL.
Without bias, even though (full disclosure) I have been a San Francisco 49ers fan for literally three and a half decades, I give you my weekly top five.
1.) The New England Patriots. Come on, I know their opponents have been like the Miami Dolphins, Sulligent High School, the Krispy Kreme club team, and the Buffalo Bills, but still – they are beating folks DOWN. Barely got by a gritty Buffalo team last week, though, and had quarterback Josh Allen not gotten hurt, they might have lost. We’ll keep an eye on that.
2.) The Kansas City Chiefs. And no, I’m not just putting them there because a local kid, Patrick Mahomes, is their quarterback. I’m putting them there because Patrick Mahomes is their quarterback, is playing the best of anyone in football, and their defense has played much better. It does feel like the Patriots and the Chiefs will meet in the AFC Championship Game and that’ll be the REAL Super Bowl, like it used to when the Cowboys and 49ers used to play in the NFC title game all those years.
3.) The Green Bay Packers. I know they just lost last Thursday to Philadelphia, but I’m going on the eye test here. The Packers have been one of the top three through the first four weeks, and their defense is the main reason why. Now, if they can’t do something about all those injuries at wide receiver, they could be in real trouble.
4.) The Dallas Cowboys. And yes, those two teams play this week. We’ll get an eye test of both, on the same field. Quarterback Dak Prescott looked very limited and receiver Amari Cooper not much better in the loss at New Orleans last week. The Saints’ defense took Ezekiel Elliott out of the game, for the most part, and harassed Prescott all night.
5.) The New Orleans Saints. Who would have ever believed this when Drew Brees was injured, but it’s true. Since then, the Saints have upset Seattle in Seattle, and held off the Cowboys, who may have the best offense in the NFC. New Orleans looks to be real.