VIDEO PREVIEW: Irion County Battles Abbott for Trip to State


MERTZON – The Irion County Hornets are set to take on the Abbott Panthers in the state semifinals Saturday night in Early, Texas.

Last week, the Hornets beat the Jonesboro Eagles 44-43 after the Eagles missed a field goal that would’ve won them the game. Now, the Panthers, who beat the Gordon Longhorns 32-24 in the third round, are the only team that stands between the Hornets and a trip to Arlington.

This is the fourth season the Hornets have been playing six-man football and it’s also the fourth-year head coach Don Coffell has been running the program.


In 2019, the Hornets went 7-3 and lost to Baird. Then, the next two seasons would be ended by the May Tigers in the opening round of the playoffs when Irion County went 9-2 in 2020 and 8-3 in 2021.

This year, Irion County has not been messing around. They’re undefeated so far on the season and the closest regular season game they played was in week one against Buena Vista 80-60. The Hornets then went on to 45 every other team during their pre-district and district schedule.

They pulled the May Tigers in the first round again and had this time, won 104-91. The Hornets then played Leakey again and the game was over at halftime by a score of 52-0.

See, in six-man, every game is played until halftime regardless of the score. After halftime, if one team has 45 points over their opponent, the mercy rule kicks in and the game is over.

This season, Irion County beat Roby 57-0, Leakey, in the regular season, 61-6, Eden 78-0, Robert Lee 58-0, and Leakey, in the playoffs, 52-0.

Then, of course, the Hornets beat Jonesboro 44-43.

One of the really impressive things is the number of points the Hornets have put up. They’ve scored 788 points this season and did so sometimes in only 20 minutes of playing time. Also impressive is that they’ve only given up 268. In the playoffs, the Hornets have given up 134 of those points. Irion County has shut out five opposing teams and in two games allowed one score.

The Abbott Panthers have one thing over the Hornets and that thing is that they’ve been here before. The undefeated Panthers were actually in this same position last year. A perfect season up until the game before state where they lost to May 50-48.

If Irion County giving up 268 points this season is impressive, then Abbott will shock the system as they’ve only given up 78 points all season. The Panthers have shut out Keene, Avalon, Borden County, Aquilla, Coolidge, Penelope, and Gholson. Covenant Classical and Bynum were able to score once against Abbott during the regular season.

In the playoffs, the Panthers beat Milford 56-10 then Union Hill 58-10. Against Gordon last week, they won by a touchdown 32-24.

This game won’t be broadcast on your Ring Doorbell so tune into COVER1 for “Hornet Watch” and see if Irion County can punch their ticket to AT&T Stadium in the middle of December. Also, COVER1 will have exclusive coaches’ interviews, score updates, highlights, and more at around 4:00, 8:00, and 10:00 p.m. only on San Angelo LIVE!

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