Football picture much clearer after Thanksgiving
The Thanksgiving holiday is usually significant in at least two categories—eating far too much turkey and providing more clarity to the post-season football situation, whether it is high school, college or professional.
As far as the high school state playoffs are concerned, it went ka-boom for the West Orange-Stark Mustangs fans during the third round again this year, which also happened to occur on the Thanksgiving weekend.
The college football picture became much clearer as far as the various conference playoff participants are concerned, which in turn will have a huge effect on the BCS teams that will reap the huge monetary packages awaiting those who are selected by that organization’s smarter-than-humans computer.
And as the NFL enters it final four games of its 16-game season, the division leaders and wild card candidates have been narrowed down somewhat. And teams hoping to get into the NFL playoffs have a better idea of what course of action they must take to attain this lofty goal.
The Mustangs went into Saturday’s Region III semifinal game prepared for what Gilmer does best, but got burned twice in the first half on a couple of trick plays that produced touchdowns. They were reeling at the intermission because of the 28-9 Buckeye lead.
The second half was a different story as the Mustangs took it to the visitors from Gilmer and narrowed the margin to 28-23 and seemed to stop the Buckeyes’ potent offense. But the Buckeyes sent receiver Hunter Harrison streaking down the right sidelines and quarterback Stump Godfrey hit him in stride, expanding the lead to 35-23, which turned out to be the final score.
The Mustangs went to the airways almost exclusively and the Gilmer front four pressured WO-S quarterback Ortavious Hypolite into nine straight incompletions, including a pair of interceptions, spelling the end of a great season for the 10-1 Mustangs. Gilmer will meet Carthage this weekend for the Region III title.
This Korner will admit that Gilmer has a great high school football program and a huge following, but we wouldn’t trade one of our Mustang fans for the whole lot of theirs. They booed every time a flag was thrown against Gilmer and the most disgusting part of the entire afternoon occurred when it was obvious who would win the game when the Gilmer band began to slowly drone out a funeral march.
The only college football game on Turkey Day was the big rivalry in Austin between the Texas Longhorns and the grossly overmatched Texas Aggies. The ‘Horns concluded their regular season with a 49-9 victory for an 11-1 record and a three-way tie for first place in the Big 12 South Zone with Texas Tech and Oklahoma.
And the Big 12 had to go to its fifth and final tie-breaker method—the BCS computer.
That for some unknown reason disregarded the 45-35 victory by Texas over Oklahoma and leaned more heavily on the last-second touchdown Texas Tech made against the Longhorns in Lubbock and the Sooners’ 61-41 home victory over Texas Tech to put Oklahoma above Texas in the final and deciding poll.
So on Saturday the South Zone winning Sooners will take on the North Zone champion Missouri Tigers Saturday in Kansas City. And the Longhorns probably will get to play against Utah in the Fiesta Bowl.
The bottom line looks to be that if a team like the Texas Longhorns plays second and third teamers after scoring enough to win the game and elects not run up the score with first-teamers, they are penalized in the final and deciding BCS poll. “Let the reserves get splinters from sitting on the bench while the first team annihilates to opponent” must be the motto of the BCS folks.
There were a dozen games played on Friday, many of which were rivalries and the one with plenty of interest in Southeast Texas being between LSU and Arkansas. It turned out to be a great game unless you’re a big LSU fans, then it was a big disappointment to watch the Bengal Tigers give the game away with senseless penalties that helped the Razorbacks get back into the game and eventually win it, 31-30.
Saturday’s regular slate of college games featured many cross-state rivalries, the most prominent being the Alabama-Auburn game in which the No.1-ranked Crimson Tide steamrolled Auburn 36-0.
Florida cruised past Florida State 45-15 setting up Saturday’s battle between East and West zone winners Alabama and Florida in the Southeastern Conference.
The Dallas Cowboys kept their faint playoff hopes alive with a convincing 34-9 win over the under-performing Seattle Seahawks.
Most of the division leaders in the NFL solidified their positions last weekend, except the New York Jets in the AFC East and the Chicago Bears in the NFC North, who both lost Sunday.
In fact Sunday was a strange day in the NFL where only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Minnesota Vikings won at home out of the 12 games played. Some of the teams being upset at home included the New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers, the Jets and the San Diego Chargers.
And for the first time in their seven-year franchise history, the Houston Texans played on Monday Night Football, against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
KWICKIES…The Southland Conference champion Lamar Lady Cardinal volleyball team (17-11) will meet the University of Texas Lady Longhorns (25-3) in the first round of the NCAA tournament Friday at UT’s Gregory Gym in Austin. The winner will play Wichita State or Rice in the second round. The Lady Cards are in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1933.
Bridge City’s Matt Bryant kicked a 37-yard field goal with 1:55 remaining in the game to give the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a 23-20 victory over the New Orleans Saints Sunday to help the Bucs remain atop of the NFC South with a 9-3 record. Bryant also booted field goals of 38 and 23 yards to help Tampa Bay win its fourth straight game.
We killed two birds with one stone Saturday with our trip to Lufkin to watch the West Orange-Stark Mustangs play against Gilmer at Abe Martin Stadium. We also got to visit with grandson Logan Smith one day before his 12th birthday. Logan was bubbling about getting a birdie on a par-5 hole at the golf course in Diboll recently to beat his dad Brian on that hole.
The Lamar men’s basketball team is off to a flying 5-0 start so far this season, with its biggest win so far over the Rice Owls in Houston. The last Lamar team to start the season 5-0 was the 1997-98 squad coached by Grey Giovanine and only two other Cardinal teams—Pat Foster’s 1981-82 squad and Jack Martin’s 1968-69 Cards have gotten off to better starts.
JUST BETWEEN US…Congrats to the three Southeast Texas high school teams still in the state football playoffs. Kirbyville (12-0) will play Rice Consolidated (12-0) and Newton (9-3) will take on Daingerfield (12-1) in Class 2A while Beaumont Central (9-3) meets Friendswood (12-1) in Class 4A this weekend.
Incidentally, Daingerfield’s only loss was to Gilmer 49-18 in a pre-district game.