The pre-season is over for the football teams in District 10-3A DII and each one had a bye this week before clashing in openers Sept. 28.
Weather-related cancellations forced Quitman, Alba-Golden and Grand Saline to come up a game short in the pre-season. The overall record for district teams stands at 11 – 10.
Going into the bye week, Alba-Golden and Grand Saline stand at the top with 2-0 records. Alba-Golden defeated Hawkins 16-15 and Honey Grove 20-6 while Grand Saline has beaten Como-Pickton 29-18 and Scurry-Rosser 27-20.
District favorites Harmony and Troup along with Winona each stand at 2-1. Harmony unloaded on New Diana 53-13 and doubled up Elysian Fields 42-21 before falling to District 8-3A DI favorite and state-ranked West Rusk in a close 28-24 battle.
Troup got a signature win, defeating Class 2A top-ranked Tenaha 42-39 in the opener, but they lost to Carlisle, another top-five team, 35-28. The Tigers came back to romp over the Elkhart Elks 54-16 on Sept. 14.
Winona has shown flashes of offensive and defensive talents defeating Winnsboro 14-8 and Eustace 28-14 before losing a 33-24 contest to Elysian Fields.
The Quitman Bulldogs broke that 43-game losing streak with a big 30-6 win over Cumby in the season opener and then fell on the road in a game they feel they let get away by losing at Union Grove 28-22 in overtime.
Combining for six of the district’s 10 losses at 0-3 apiece are Arp and Frankston. Arp has been defeated by West Rusk 45-0, Hughes Springs 56-0 and Jefferson 56-0. Frankston fell to West Sabine 61-8 while showing improvement in losses to Elkhart 19-7 and Ore City 21-6.
As all teams begin district play Sept. 28. Quitman will open the season on a quest to halt a 25-game district losing streak when they travel to Arp to take on the 0-3 Tigers. The Bulldogs have shown they can move the ball on the ground and have a solid defense in their goal to become a playoff team. Josh Medlin had 161 yards on the ground at Cumby and picked up 72 more at Union Grove. Fleet-footed Trey Berry ran for 186 yards and three touchdowns against Union Grove after rushing for 76 yards at Cumby.
After giving up over 50 points a game last year, the Bulldog defense has made great strides behind the play of David Tarno, Hunter Gilbreath, Gavin Derryberry, Alex Wilson, Riley Flanagan and River Chaney.
“We really felt like we let one get away from us at Union Grove. We are looking forward to going to Arp and coming home with a district win Friday night,” Head Coach Bryan Oakes noted. “Our kids keep working hard and they are hungry to win.”
Alba-Golden gets the honor of opening at district favorite and state-ranked Harmony. The Panthers have shown great promise with a rock-solid defense and an offense balanced in the running and passing games behind quarterback Zane Smith. He also has a pick six on defense and several long returns on special teams.
The Panthers are also led on defense by Tom Mitchell and Boedie Baker, who also is a rugged running back. The Panthers will battle Harmony in a game which will be closer than many predict. “We are getting better offensively each game, and I am really proud of the way our defense has come together,” Panther Head Coach Derek Smith said. “We feel good about our chances to be a playoff team.”
In other district contest Friday, Winona is favored over Frankston at home while Grand Saline is ready for a home field battle with Troup.
-BY LARRY TUCKER