Bulletin Staff Report
COLEMAN — One of the most compelling matchups in the first round of the Division II-2A playoffs will occur in Cisco Saturday night. In a rematch of last year’s 48-42 triple overtime slugfest, the Coleman Bluecats (8-2) and Haskell Indians (8-2) will again square off with a Region I bi-district crown at stake.
Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. at Chelsey Stadium.
Coleman is embarking upon its fourth straight trip to the postseason, where the Bluecats have posted a 5-3 record the past three seasons.
In 2004, the Bluecats won just two regular season games, but still advanced to the playoffs and earned a bi-district championship. The 2005 season saw the Bluecats post a 5-5 regular season mark en route to an area championship. And last year, Coleman capped a 7-3 regular season with a second straight trip to the regional quarterfinals.
Based on its playoff success and the number of lettermen returning, Coleman started this season ranked in the Associated Press Top 10. The Bluecats peaked at No. 5 before suffering back-to-back losses to Early (20-18) and Ballinger (14-13). Coleman was shorthanded in each of its defeats, but the Bluecats were near full strength last week as they pounded Jim Ned, 45-20, to get back on track.
Haskell enters Saturday’s showdown with both a share of the District 5-2A championship and a six-game win streak.
After dropping its district opener to Colorado City, Haskell — which picked up one vote in the final AP rankings — steamrolled through the rest of its 5-2A schedule as the Indians won all but one of their remaining contests by at least 19 points.
Heading into Saturday’s game, Haskell is averaging 34 points, 319.4 total yards and 286.7 rushing yards per game. Meanwhile, the defense is giving up 12 points, 177 total yards and 75.6 rushing yards per game.
During their win streak, the Indians have allowed no more than 14 points in a game and are giving up an average of 9.8 points per contest. Offensively, Haskell has put 35.8 points per game on the board during the streak, with a high of 48 points coming in a 34-point win over co-district champion Merkel.
Coleman enters the playoffs averaging 37.9 points, 361.9 total yards and 267.9 rushing yards per game. Meanwhile, the defense is giving up 10.8 points, 152.5 total yards and 86.2 rushing yards per game.
For each team, establishing the running game against a stingy defense could be the key to advancing.
Coleman features leading rusher Bronson Buzzard, with 1,004 yards, while quarterback Colton Buzzard has added 799 yards on the ground. Other top rushers for the Bluecats include Glen Edington with 291 yards and Brandon Worsham with 281.
Haskell counters with Travis Adams, who has racked up 1,214 yards, and Greg Guzman, who has picked up 681 yards rushing. Quarterback Weston Rutkowski has added 662 yards on the ground.
The Bluecats would appear to have the advantage through the air as Colton Buzzard has thrown for 993 yards, while Dalton Deleon has 42 receptions for 394 yards. Rutkowski has passed for just 298 yards for Haskell.
Another determining factor could be the turnover battle, where Coleman enters the game at plus 15 on the season. The Bluecats have coughed up the ball just 13 times, while forcing 28 turnovers.
Haskell has been equally as impressive, creating 23 turnovers while giving the ball away just 12 times for a plus 11 ratio.
Saturday’s winner will advance to face either Crane or Comfort in the area round.