Harker Heights is at a crossroads.
For the past month, the Knights endured a difficult schedule, playing a quartet of opponents with a combined record of 17-7 going into this week, and the challenge proved daunting.
Culminating with last week’s 42-9 loss at Waco Midway, Harker Heights was winless during the stretch, including a pair of District 8-6A contests.
Now, the Knights must make a decision.
“After going through something like that,” Harker Heights head coach Jerry Edwards said, “you can go one of two ways. You can learn from it and find the silver lining in it and find ways to get better, or you can let it linger and let it affect you moving forward.
“There are two ways to look at this.”
The Knights (2-4, 0-2) will choose their path tonight as they host Shoemaker in a game capable of altering both teams’ playoff potential.
Like Harker Heights, the Grey Wolves, who are 0-6 overall, are winless in district with four games remaining in the regular season.
Additionally, with Copperas Cove (3-3, 1-1) hosting Ellison (3-2, 1-0), tonight’s loser at Leo Buckley Stadium will fall two wins behind the district’s third-place team.
But there is more at stake than an improved position in the standings.
“Any time we play a Killeen ISD school,” Edwards said, “it is considered a rivalry game, and the kids play like it.
“Shoemaker is always good, they are always athletic, and I can see on the film they are getting better each week. So, they are scary.”
The Grey Wolves almost captured a victory against Ellison in their district opener, but they were unable to complete a late rally, and last week, Shoemaker held a 12-7 lead midway through the third quarter before the Bulldawgs scored the game’s final 19 points.
Edwards can identify with the Grey Wolves after experiencing similar momentum swings during the Knights’ four-game skid.
“We probably should have won a couple of those games,” he said, “but we made some mistakes and didn’t get it.”
Last week, against the No. 8 Panthers, however, Harker Heights was simply overwhelmed.
Despite senior running back Jameel Hodges’ 149-yard performance, the Knights could not keep pace with the five-time defending district champion.
After allowing a touchdown on Midway’s opening drive, Harker Heights responded with a 27-yard field goal from senior Seth Bodolus.
The Panthers (6-0, 2-0) dominated the remainder of the contest.
Midway closed the half with 28 unanswered points before inflating its lead to 42-3 by the end of the third quarter. Jaquan Tillis tallied the Knights’ final points with a touchdown to cap off a nine-play drive.
Although the loss helped guide Harker Heights to its current crossroads, Edwards feels the ultimate destination is still in sight.
“Our goals have not changed from the beginning of the season,” he said. “Of course, we would like to have more wins along the way, but the playoffs are still in front of us, and we control our own destiny.
“And we feel good about that moving forward.”