EARLY — The Early Longhorns continued their mastery of the Coleman Bluecats last week, and halted a grueling nine-game losing streak — which dated back to the opening round of the 2008 playoffs — in the process with a 28-0 victory.
Now the Longhorns (1-8, 1-4) have the opportunity to conclude their campaign with an even bigger swing of positive momentum as they host the Dublin Lions (1-8, 0-5) in Friday’s 7:30 p.m. season finale.
“It was great to see those kids smile,” said Early head coach Robbie Tindol of last week’s win at Coleman. “It was good to have a lot of good things happen and get that monkey off our back. It was good to see a lot of kids having fun after the game.”
Early’s win was sparked by a defensive unit that did not allow a point, while forcing five turnovers. The Longhorns also limited Coleman to just 213 yards of total offense.
“The defense played well and it was good to see those kids make some plays,” Tindol said. “They had some things that they wanted to prove. Their pride was on the line and they did a pretty good job all night long. They kept getting us turnovers and that helped the team win.”
On the offensive side of the ball, the Longhorns generated 262 yards of total offense behind a balanced attack that featured 144 yards through the air and 118 yards on the ground. Three of Early’s scoring drives began inside the Coleman 30, while the fourth was an impressive 10-play, 82-yard trek.
Chase Reeves completed 10-of-19 passes with a 10-yard scoring toss to Zac Fox. Reeves also chipped in a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs, while Austin Baugh scored on a 1-yard carry as well.
Shane Morris rushed for a team-high 81 yards on 15 carries, while Fox finished with two catches for 54 yards. Juan Rebledo also caught a pair of passes covering 20 yards, while Ethan Horton grabbed a 22-yard catch and Colby Adams hauled in a 17-yard reception.
“Offensively we executed well,” Tindol said. “What I liked the most is even though the kids were wanting to move the ball and get in the end zone in a hurry, they were glad when they got first downs. They also had to overcome adversity during the game because of penalties (11 for 143 yards), but the kids hung in there and never gave up. They moved the ball and got first downs.”
The Longhorns will be battling a Dublin squad that, like Early last week, is looking to snapping a lengthy losing streak. The Lions have lost five straight — all in District 8-2A play.
The Lions’ only win was a 24-18 decision over Class A Valley Mills, a game in which Dublin squandered a 17-point lead only to score in the closing seconds to claim the win.
Last week against Brady, Dublin was held to 146 yards of total offense and just 9 in the first half. Two weeks ago against Bangs, Dublin managed just 29 yards, two first downs and turned the ball over five times.
Dublin is averaging only 6 points per game, while surrendering 43 per outing.
“They run a two-back system a lot on offense and try to run a ground game that’s based around the option,” Tindol said. “Defensively, they’re in an odd front and try and shut down the pass. That will be a big test when we get into our spread offense.”
Though Dublin has struggled throughout the season, Tindol expects a fight from the Lions Friday night.
“They’ve got seniors over there that want to go out with a win and they’ve got young kids over there they want to get back on the right track,” Tindol said. “Both teams want the same thing. This contest is going to be a good football game for us.”
Though a postseason berth is not on the line for the Longhorns, plenty is at stake in terms of momentum for Early, according to Tindol.
“It would be a boost for us going out of this season into the rest of the school year, and then for next football season, to go out with a win,” Tindol said. “Winning this game is the No. 1 thing. This isn’t a game where we’re going to go in and say it’s the last game and we don’t care how we play. Our kids want to play the game right and do what’s right. They’re having fun going out there and putting themselves up against somebody and playing a contest.”