Playoff spot on the line as Lone Grove hosts Pauls Valley
“In other districts, this is probably for a district championship or home playoff game,” Pauls Valley head coach Dusty Raper said.
But not in 3A District 2. Instead Pauls Valley and Lone Grove are locked in a battle for the final playoff spot.
“We’ve been fortunate enough that this will be our fifth top ten game in the state," Raper said. "So we’ve played in a lot of big games and that says you’re a pretty good football program because if you’re not good, then those games aren’t as important as they are."
A Plainview win over Sulphur would almost certainly eliminate Lone Grove, but while the scenarios may be complex, head coach Curtis Cole’s message is simple.
“Control what you can control," Cole said. "We’re going to have zero effect on what Sulphur and Plainview do to each other, so all we can do is focus on what happens in Lone Grove on Friday night.”
Three weeks ago, Lone Grove suffered a humbling 41-0 defeat to Sulphur but since then the Longhorns have scored dominant wins over Douglass and Dickson
“Sulphur came in and dominated us," Lone Grove safety/receiver D'Marion Jackson said. "But we took it to heart and the past couple weeks we’ve been trying to get better from it trying to move on, and trying to execute the next couple of games heading into the playoffs."
But to get to the playoffs, they’ll have to get past a Pauls Valley team that has won three-straight after an 0-3 start to district play.
“Playing the three top teams in 3A, it really motivated us to go out and win the next three games," Pauls Valley running back Rayne Major said.
“I feel like we’ve improved a lot, especially since the Sulphur game," Raper said. "We moved some people around, changed where each guy was playing on the offensive line, and moved our center to tight end. It’s been big for us.”
And come Friday as both teams look to earn their fourth-straight playoff berth, there’s no understating what a win would mean.
“It’d be really special because there’s only been one other class to do that four years in a row, and that’s definitely a goal that we have,” Lone Grove quarterback Jaxon McClennahan said.
“This would be the first time in school history someone has made the playoffs four years in a row so this is a big game for us and our community," Raper said. "Hopefully, we can take care of business.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 on Friday in Lone Grove.