Cade Pippen

Kilgore's Cade Pippen (1, foreground) had four catches Friday night in Palestine, but the Bulldogs came up short, 21-7, their first loss to the Wildcats since 2002. Kilgore (5-4) hosts rival Carthage (9-0) Friday night at R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium. A win gets the Bulldogs into the UIL 4A playoffs. A Kilgore loss, combined with a Henderson win over Van, also gets KHS into the postseason. (Photo by DENNIS JACOBS)

OK, for everyone wondering how it works, here’s what Kilgore needs to do to make the UIL Class 4A playoffs, after losing at Palestine on Friday night.

The Ragin’ Red (2-2 in District 10-4A, Division I) can get in by controlling their own destiny if they beat Carthage here at R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium on Friday night. Or, they can get in the nervous way, by beating Carthage and hoping Henderson beats Van.

Yes, I said by hoping for Henderson. Sometimes, playoff hopes makes for strange bedfellows. In other words, sometimes, you’ve got to root for your rival.

That works that way because Kilgore holds the tiebreaker over Van. Kilgore does not own the same edge over Henderson or Palestine, because we lost to both of those teams. So if Kilgore and Van are tied – in other words, if Henderson beats Van on Friday – then the Bulldogs and Vandals have the same record, and we win that tiebreaker, so we would be the playoff team. If Van wins, that gives the Vandals one more win than Kilgore. In that event, we’d be the odd team out.

Beat Carthage and the Bulldogs don’t have to sweat it. But that’s easier said than done the last few years. Kilgore has had success against Carthage, though, when other programs haven’t, especially here at home. The Bulldogs beat Carthage here in back to back seasons in 2015 and 2016. So there’s a shot.

For the record, Kilgore is 5-4 right now; Carthage is 9-0 after slapping Henderson around last Friday.

Sabine: Well, the Cardinals still haven’t beaten Gladewater, but it’s time to move on from that. Sabine, and its fans, need to refocus: they are definitely in the playoffs, although the seeding of District 8-4A, Division I has yet to really be set.

The Cardinals have lost many times over the years to White Oak, so it’s their chance Friday night to return the favor to their longtime rival. White Oak comes into James Bamberg Stadium on Friday winless, 0-9. The Cardinals will surely be ready, after falling at Gladewater a week ago.

Look out, Roughnecks.

KC: Yeah, it’s shocking. Hard to believe the Rangers won eight games and their season is over. But this conference, the Southwest Junior College Football Conference, has a very high talent level, and good coaching. Literally, anyone can rise up and beat anyone.

Still, coach Willie Gooden had a great first season. We say that, and it sounds like he just walked onto campus last spring. Gooden has spent practically his entire career at KC since he graduated high school. He’s a Ranger, through and through. The Rangers have been so impressive the last two seasons, eerily similar to the late 1970s teams under Jim Miller. Gooden and his staff will reboot a bit, and come back next season with an eye on getting that SWJCFC championship back.

By the way, they still accomplished goals. They beat Tyler twice. They beat Navarro and Trinity Valley. They won the conference’s regular season title outright. And they’ve become highly-regarded again nationally. KC spent the entire season in the NJCAA’s top 10, and for the most part, either ranked second, third or fifth.

Volleyball: OK, don’t say you weren’t reminded.

Kilgore, Sabine, Leverett’s Chapel and Overton are all in the volleyball playoffs. Sabine is just going nuts, having set a school record for single season wins (38 and counting), and hasn’t lost since August. Kilgore finished with 19 regular season wins and is going into the postseason with its highest seeding since the early 1990s (second in District 16-4A).

So, here’s where they are. The Lady Bulldogs (19-14), coached by Madeline Harris (in her first season here) will play North Lamar at Wills Point on Tuesday night at 6:30 in the first round of the 4A playoffs. They owe North Lamar a little something-something: NL beat Kilgore back in 2015 in the first round, and then did it again in 2018.

Sabine (38-5), the District 16-3A champs, will make the short drive to LeTourneau University in Longview, where they’ll face Waskom Tuesday night at 7 p.m.

LC (18-16) scrapped to get into the playoffs, and now they’re there. They meet Fruitvale at Union Grove on Thursday night, at 6. And Overton faces old rival Beckville on Monday (as in, tomorrow) night at Longview High School, a 6 p.m. start.

Good luck to all of these teams, and rooting for a long playoff run – maybe one that ends with a trophy.

Cross country: As has become custom around here for the last few years, both Kilgore and Sabine have runners representing the schools at next weekend’s UIL state cross country meet at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock.

The meet is next Saturday, at 9 a.m., and Kilgore will be represented by Emma Taylor and Zoe Craven in the 4A girls run, then by Austin Bain in the 4A boys run. Taylor and Craven have been there before, two years ago, when Kilgore’s girls made the state meet as a team. Last year, Cristina Rosas went back for Kilgore, so KHS has been in the girls state cross country meet for three years running.

Bain represents the KHS boys for the first time at state since 2014 – Clayton Fletcher did so that fall before going on to a college running career.

Kilgore’s boys cross country is coached by Phillip Lane, in his 14th season here, and the girls are coached by Todd BonDurant, in his first. BonDurant also will coach Kilgore’s girls soccer.

Sabine has David Robinson going back to the state meet. Robinson is going to state for the second straight year, and he’s once again coached by Jason Heffner.

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