Prior to this football season a lot of questions were swirling in the community about whether the 2017 Yellowjackets football team would be able to defend the State Championship from 2016 and with a new head coach, new quarterback and starters at multiple positions the team somewhat stumbled in to the UIL playoffs with a 5-5 record overall.
However as any coach will tell you the postseason is a new start and all previous bets are off once bracket play begins in the single elimination tournament that is the UIL state playoffs.
While many players felt this season would be an opportunity to show that this years team could repeat the success seen just a year ago when the team went 14-2 with 14 straight wins to end the year, the optimism was short lived as the Jackets were shut out of the opening round playoff game 27-0 at the hands of the Hughes Springs Mustangs.
The Jackets who had previously shown an ability to overcome some of their slow starts on offense were unable to recreate that magic against the Mustangs who used a very similar game plan employed by the Mt. Vernon Tigers when they played Mineola - running multiple option run plays directly through the heart of the Mineola defense.
With the Jackets offense unable to pick up first downs on either of the teams first two drives of the game the Mustangs got going when they scored just as the second quarter got underway.
The second quarter would prove to be the Mustangs best quarter of the game as they would score two more times before halftime with their third touchdown score coming with just two second left in the half.
With Mineola down by 20 points as the second half got underway the Jackets were forced to essentially abandon their running game that had been the lynchpin of their offensive scheme and pass the ball on early downs more often.
Two key turnovers also stymied the Mineola offense. A fumble by Cameron Sorenson on a screen pass and a fumble by Shaw Franklin in the rezone killed Mineola’s two best drives after the first quarter.
The Mustangs went on to score again in the fourth after Franklin’s fumble giving them a 27 point lead with just over eight minutes left in the game.
Franklin later threw an interception near the mid way point of the quarter which essentially sealed the loss for the Jackets.
Just under half this years’ team were seniors this season and will be lost to graduation. However the team will return some of its major contributors from the 2017 season with quarterback Shaw Franklin, running back Trevion Sneed, right tackle Cameron Wise, defensive backs Wylie Franks and Cole Castleberry as well as receiver Cameron Bowman.