“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing/Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before.” — Edgar Allan Poe, “The Raven”

Walking into a dank, desolate maze of depravity, the eager soul knows what they’re getting into. But none of that knowledge is any help when one by one, room by room, monstrosities of horror spring forth with the sole intent of sending them shrieking away in terror.

The zombies and creatures of the night that roam haunted houses tend to turn even the biggest of us into small, sniveling children.

But the inside of those houses of horrors is nothing compared to the threats facing several area high school football teams desperate to find their way into the postseason.

Especially in District 8-5A, where there is nowhere to hide with just three weeks left in the regular season. Harker Heights seemed like a playoff longshot at best, especially after an 0-3 start in nondistrict play.

But that changed after the district opener when Heights (3-4, 3-1 8-5A) delivered a jarring 7-0 upset of playoff-favorite Belton.

The Tigers (5-2, 2-2), in turn, continued to muddy up the district race with last Friday’s 35-31 victory over defending 12-5A champion Copperas Cove, which is one of three teams tied for third at 2-2 after also losing to undefeated Waco Midway the week before.

The Panthers (7-0, 4-0) appear to be the only sure bet after advancing all the way to the Class 4A state title game a year ago.

Above the always contentious Bulldawgs (4-3, 2-2) in the district standings are two teams that will battle it out tonight to create a little separation and put themselves one step closer to the postseason.

Temple (5-2, 3-1) and Heights are sitting in second place, with the Wildcats’ lone loss coming against the Panthers and Heights’ against Killeen (5-2, 2-2). Unfortunately, the Roos’ 28-7 victory in the second week of district play could come back to bite the Knights.

With a loss tonight against Belton at Fort Hood’s Hood Stadium, Killeen could create a situation in which the Knights, Tigers and Roos end the year in a three-way tie at 4-3, which will mean bad things for Heights.

It’s confusing, believe me. But a simple way for the Knights to avoid all the varying scenarios is to win. A victory tonight against Temple would go a long way toward helping Heights break its six-year playoff drought.

But not even a 4-1 record with two weeks to go will lock anything up.

The Knights must then hope Killeen beats Belton tonight and longtime foe Temple in the final week of the season.

By the same accord, Heights must do the unthinkable and pull an upset over Copperas Cove in the regular-season finale to assure themselves a seat in the postseason at 5-2.

That’s assuming that Midway breezes through to the district title.

With a loss tonight to Temple, though, Harker Heights’ road gets even more frightening.

Midway looks close to unbeatable and the Bulldawgs have had a stranglehold over all the Killeen ISD programs for the better part of a decade.

The only sure thing right now, with six teams vying for four playoff spots and three games remaining, is this race seems destined to go down to the wire.

And that isn’t for the faint at heart.

Contact Alex Byington at alexb@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7566

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