Bobcats Must Learn From Past Failures to Make It Past Haltom
SAN ANGELO, TX — The Central football team has come a long way from their season opening loss to Shoemaker. At that point in late August, the Bobcats were young, inexperienced, and maybe a little nervous. The bright lights of the Dallas Metroplex were shining on them for just the second season, and the new crop of players needed time to adjust.
Since that 54-21 eye-opener, Central has improved every week. There have been inconsistencies and bumps in the road along the way, but Coach Davis' team is much better now than they were two months ago. The penalties and turnovers have been cut down, the secondary has improved, and the growth of quarterback Malachi Brown is clear.
The bumps and bruises suffered throughout the season have prepared them for their high stakes clash with Haltom.
Haltom will go into Friday with a 2-3 record in the district and 4-5 record overall. They are tied with Weatherford for fourth in the district, one spot and one game behind Central. Two of those three teams will make it, and they each control their destiny. If Central wins, they are in regardless of any other games. If they lose, the amount by which they lost and the result of the Weatherford/Bell game become significantly more important.
A Weatherford win paired with a Central loss by 10 points or less would still give the nod to the Bobcats. If Weatherford beats Bell, which is very likely to be the case, and Central loses by more than 10, Weatherford, Haltom, Richland, and Trinity will be the four teams from the 3-6A district to make the postseason. It is a mess for sure, but all Central has to do is win. Do that, and they won't have anything else to worry about.
So now that we know what is on stake, what are Central's chances of winning?
Much like the rest of the 3-6A, Haltom is somewhat of a puzzle. We know they are not as good as last year's district championship winning group that came to San Angelo and beat the Bobcats 50-33. That team finished 13-1 and only lost once they made it to the 6A DII regional finals.
This year has been a different story. Haltom made it out of non-district play 2-2. In the two games they lost, Saginaw (6-3) and Lake Highlands (6-3), they were outscored by just four points combined. They could have easily been 4-0. Since then, however, it has been a crap shoot. One week, they do something no one else has been able to do, beat Euless Trinity. The next, they lose by 17 to 3-7 Abilene.
A different Haltom team can show up depending on the week, but Central needs to be ready for the best they have to offer.
Matchup wise, Haltom's strengths line up well with Central's weaknesses.
The Buffalos have an experienced and very talented dual-threat quarterback to orchestrate the offense and two dominant play makers to help share the load. Senior Adam Hill has thrown for 1,587 and 11 touchdowns to just two interceptions. On the ground, he has picked up 692 yards and 10 more touchdowns.
If it was just him, Central's defensive line would have no trouble keeping him contained, but its not. Also in the backfield is 5'10, 195 pound running back Kenneth Cormier. Hill's fellow senior sees about 25 touches a game and has rushed for 844 yards and 15 scores. He is also a viable option in the passing game and has caught 24 passes for 227 yards and one touchdown.
Those two should worry Central fans, but the 6'3" junior wide receiver Jace Washington could have the biggest impact. It is not a secret that Central's defensive backs have struggled this season, especially against athletic receivers. Richland's CJ Nelson and CJ Baskerville hauled in a combined 17 passes for 277 yards against them. Pebble Hill's Isaiah Davis and Anthony Donacio caught 14 for 246.
Washington could be the best of them. The big target leads the team with 807 receiving yards and seven receiving touchdowns. He averages just over 5 catches per game.
Washington can be a game changer, and Central should expect him to have a big role in Haltom's game plan Friday night. Cornerbacks Ty Casey, Tristan Lopez, and Kyson Snelson should be ready to be picked on until they proved they can stop him.
When Central has the ball, the usually suspects will make all the difference. The connection between Malachi Brown and Tanner Dabbert has been a reliable feature of Kevin Crane's offense. They will have to be clicking for Central to stay competitive. Brown's athleticism will keep them in the game. He is too good in the ground game to be contained for four quarters.
But much like the rest of their games this season, it will be up to their defense to win the game. Central's offense averages 36 points per game, but the defense allows 33.
Brown and company will be able to light up the scoreboard. The defense just hast to make sure Haltom doesn't do the same thing.
Kickoff is set for Friday night at 7:00 p.m. in Birdville Stadium. We will know if Central's season will continue about three hours later.
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