Sometimes a year can make all the difference.
Lometa and May entered the 2012 regular season finale with nothing to play for.
Both were winless in district competition and had no chance of reaching the postseason.
Over the course of a year, however, the pair has gone from worst to first, with the winner of Friday’s game claiming the district championship.
The Hornets had no problems extending their unblemished district record to 3-0 Friday at Santa Anna, scoring 38 unanswered points in the second half to win 50-13.
Lometa got off to a slow start and entered halftime trailing 13-12 before shutting out the Mountaineers in the second half to set up a winner-take-all showdown with No. 9 May.
The Tigers (9-0, 3-0 9-6M, Div. I) are coming off a 58-36 victory against Zephyr.
The Hornets (7-2 overall) take a 53.2 points-per-game average into the game, but could have a hard time matching the output as May has only allowed one team to score more than 38 points this season. Preseason No. 16 Richland Springs lost to the Tigers 76-52 in the season opener, but May has held four of its last six opponents to eight points or less, including a pair of shutouts.
Last year’s encounter was one-sided as May crushed Lometa 63-8 at home.
But this season, the Hornets will have home-field advantage in a district-championship-deciding game nobody would have predicted.
Lampasas lets another one get away
In a district where the playoff picture was completely out of focus, every win is magnified.
Last Friday, Lampasas allowed a golden opportunity slip away again.
The Badgers trailed district leader Liberty Hill by a mere seven points on the road last week, but a fourth-quarter collapse cost them the game and potentially a playoff berth.
The Panthers held a 7-0 advantage at halftime before a 2-yard touchdown run by senior Steven Jazdyk trimmed the deficit to a point, 7-6, late in the third quarter, but Lampasas could not get any closer.
Liberty Hill quickly answered to claim a 14-6 lead early in the fourth quarter and went on to score 21 unanswered points to end the game and put the Badgers’ backs against the wall entering the regular season finale at Burnet.
Jazdyk finished with 79 rushing yards but got little help from anybody else as the Badgers totaled just 118 yards of offense and punted five times.
Now, Lampasas (3-6 overall) must win and have several other factors fall in their favor in order to return to the postseason as Liberty Hill is the lone team to have a berth clinched in the five-team district. With three teams — Brownwood, Burnet and Llano — tied at 2-2 along with Lampasas and Gatesville at 1-3, every program has an opportunity to earn one of the three remaining spots, but the Badgers’ and Hornets’ hopes are bleak.
Needing a victory and a lot of help, the Badgers could have made life a little easier for themselves had they played better late in games.
In addition to its fourth-quarter letdown at Liberty Hill, Lampasas lost to Llano by a single point in overtime two weeks ago.
Brownwood rallies past Gatesville
With 7:53 remaining in the first half, everything changed.
Gatesville led Brownwood 7-0 following the first quarter, extended its lead to 14-0 in the second quarter, but any chance of the Hornets earning an easy victory ended there.
Starting at the 7:53 mark of the second quarter, the Lions scored 20 unanswered points before halftime and outscored Gatesville 35-13 in the fourth quarter to claim a 69-33 victory and put the Hornets’ hopes of returning to the playoffs on life support.
Gatesville receiver Zae Paskett caught a 53-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jeff Speer early in the third quarter to tie the game 20-20, but Brownwood constructed a 28-0 run to take complete control.
Led by Speer (14-32-4-286 passing) and running back Jake Kee (23-179 rushing), the Hornets produced 531 total yards, but it was not enough to keep pace.
The loss dropped Gatesville (3-6, 1-3 District 8-3A) into a two-way tie with Lampasas at the bottom of the district standings, making Friday’s home game against district leader Liberty Hill a must-win.
Thanks to a new University Interscholastic League rule, Class 3A districts now send four teams to the playoffs instead of three, but even with the additional spot, it will not be easy for the Hornets, who need a lot of other games to go just right in addition to pulling off an upset.
Salado can’t keep up with Lago Vista in home finale
For the second consecutive week, the normally potent Salado offense met its match, this time against Lago Vista on Friday.
After managing just 14 points in a road loss to Academy, Salado scored just one touchdown in a 48-7 loss to Lago Vista in the Eagles’ home finale.
The Lago Vista defense shut out the Eagle offense, which has a 60-point game and two 30-point games to its name this season.
The Vikings offense, meanwhile, had no problem getting going early, as Lago Vista took a 42-0 lead into the half.
Lago Vista outgained Salado 444-117, and the Vikings had 22 first downs in the game to just five by Salado.
The Eagles are eliminated from playoff contention, but can still factor in the playoff race as McGregor is tied with Cameron Yoe for first and just a game ahead of Troy and Lago Vista in the standings.
A win by Salado against McGregor on Friday can vastly affect the standings.
— Jordan Mason
Buffs keep plugging away to dodge shutout
The pitch on a quarterback option won’t show up as a major box score highlight in Florence’s 34-6 loss to McGregor last Friday, but for Florence head coach Paul Smith, it was reflective of the team’s character.
“It matters to them and I was proud of them for working hard and not quitting,” Smith said. “They could have easily stopped, but they didn’t. They kept playing.”
After struggling the entire game, Florence (1-8, 0-6 District 13-2A, Div. 1) finally got on the scoreboard when quarterback Wyatt Odem pitched the ball to Fernando Ortiz for a 4-yard touchdown with 2:49 remaining in the game.
Smith said the Buffalos were able to get things going with the speed-option play to the outside and Odem did what the situation called for when he noticed McGregor stacking the box.
— Albert Alvarado
- Florence (1-8, 0-6 13-2A, Div. I) at Cameron Yoe (8-1, 5-1), 7:30 p.m. Friday: The Buffaloes play one more game this season and a win would be huge over No. 8 Cameron Yoe. The Yoemen beat Florence 56-0 in 2012 before hitting the playoff trail and winning the Division I- 2Astate championship.
- Lampasas (3-6, 1-3 8-3A) at Burnet (6-3, 2-2): Burnet can clinch a playoff berth with a victory over its next-door neighbor and longtime rival, but the Badgers can possibly spoil the Bulldogs’ chances and maybe even earn a postseason spot of its own with a win.
- Liberty Hill (8-1, 4-0 8-3A) at Gatesville (3-6, 1-3): Liberty Hill has already secured the district championship, but the Panthers will probably be looking for a measure of revenge against Gatesville after the Hornets won the final game at old Panther Stadium last season while simultaneously eliminating Liberty Hill from playoff contention.
- May (9-0, 3-0 9-6M, Div. I) at Lometa (7-2, 3-0): Both teams have already locked up playoff berths, but the winner takes the top seed and earns the district championship.
- Salado (1-8, 1-5 13-2A, Div. I) at McGregor (8-1, 5-1), 7:30 p.m. Friday: The Eagles end the season on the road against one of the teams tied for first atop the district.
BY THE NUMBERS
- 31.4 — Average margin of victory for Lometa this season.
- 7 — Florence’s losing streak since beating Thrall on Sept. 7.
- 4 — Penalties (for 19 total yards) by Gatesville during its 69-33 loss to Brownwood.
- 3 — Turnovers by Lampasas, to go along with five punts, during its 28-6 loss at Liberty Hill.
- 8 — Rank of Florence’s next opponent, Cameron Yoe, in the latest AP high school poll.