One of them is ranked No. 1 in the #bEASTTexas Fabulous 15 3A/2A/TAPPS poll, and the other is having its best season in two years, and leads its district standings without a single district loss.
We’re talking, of course, about top-ranked West Rusk, coached by Nick Harrison, and about Sabine, coached by veteran Rex Sharp. They’re in two different divisions of Class 3A: Sabine is in the bigger Division I, and West Rusk, Division II – in other words, they played each other in the regular season, but can’t meet in the playoffs.
And they are both on a roll.
West Rusk, after dismantling both Troup and Arp the last three weeks, is 6-0 and will host Winona this Friday at Bruce Bradshaw Stadium. The Raiders will also celebrate homecoming that night. Sabine (5-2) has won four straight, including three in District 6-3A, Division I, and is back home Friday night to host the White Oak Roughnecks.
Other games in the News Herald’s area NOT involving the Kilgore Bulldogs this Friday include Overton hosting Cushing, with Overton still looking for that first win of the season. Leverett’s Chapel dropped its first district game a week ago against Union Hill, and has an open date this week before traveling to Savoy for next week’s game.
West Rusk: Few teams in East Texas have looked as dominant has Harrison’s Raiders, who seem to be on a mission. The Raiders started last season (remember the COVID effect) 0-3, and then won eight straight games, finally losing a playoff game to old district rival Waskom.
This year, West Rusk is rolling, with a balanced offense led by quarterback Andon Mata and a defense that’s holding opponents in check and then some.
The Raiders have only allowed 103 points in six games played, and have scored 265.
Last week in a 28-12 win over Arp, Mata had 175 yards and three touchdown passes. His target on each of those touchdowns was Omarion Anthony, who finished with seven catches (of the nine Mata threw) for 131 yards. Also, Noah Murphy had an interception return for a score.
Winona’s dominance over opponents: not so much. In fact, Winona has given up a staggering 251 points in seven games, hasn’t won a road game all season (0-3) and is 1-2 – dead last – in the district. They’ve lost two straight games.
Sabine: Sharp’s Cardinals look to be the class of their own district, with that glossy 3-0 record and coming off maybe their most impressive win of the year: a 31-7 win at Jefferson that included a recent Built Ford Tough Player of the Week winner, who was completely shut down.
Sabine’s defense has done that to a few people this year. In fact, in the four-game winning streak they’re currently on, the Cardinals have outscored opponents 165-41.
For many years, White Oak – arguably Sabine’s biggest rival in athletics, period – tormented the Cardinals on the football field. And at 4-2, White Oak isn’t chopped liver this year. But they did lose to Jefferson, 38-22, two weeks ago, before Sabine dominated Jefferson last week, and they did drop a 48-14 decision to Spring Hill – a Spring Hill team that Sabine beat by 10 in the season opener.
Of note: last week against Jefferson, Sabine quarterback Jace Burns – who has been terrorizing opponents for a month – ran for 222 yards and three touchdowns and threw for 88 yards. Riley Roys had 11 tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble, and Kaden Richard had eight tackles, two for loss, and a couple of sacks.
Overton: Coach Justin Arnold’s team hosts Cushing Friday night at 7, after falling, 26-8, at Mount Enterprise a week ago.
The Mustangs (0-7) will face a Cushing team that last played two weeks ago (they had an open date last week) and blanked Mount Enterprise, 37-0.
Leverett’s Chapel: Coach Andy Bates’ Lions gave up 22 points in the first quarter, then stormed back within eight with a couple of touchdowns of their own in the second, going to halftime against Union Hill down 22-14.
But UH outgunned the Lions 22-14 again in the second half, finishing up with a 44-28 win over LC.
For the Lions, De’Marion Brown was 1-of-3 for 10 yards passing and Michael Dennis was 4-of-12 for 20 yards; De’Quincy Brown was 1-of-1 for 2 yards, so not much working in the way of the passing game for LC, who also had two interceptions.
Union Hill held the Lions’ running game in check, too, unfortunately; as a team, the Lions finished with 97 rushing yards. De’Marion Brown had 45 (on five carries) and two touchdowns; Dennis had 35 rushing yards on 10 carries; De’Quincy Brown had 6 yards on three carries; and Jonathon Perry had an 11-yard touchdown on his only carry.
De’Marion Brown had 20 tackles and two for loss; Perry had 13; and De’Quincy Brown had 12. Nathan Pierson caused a fumble and Perry and De’Quincy Brown had a fumble recovery.