You may not admit it, but I know what you thought when you saw Jim Ned’s bi-district score a week ago.
It was something along the lines of, “How is Jim Ned struggling with a No. 4 seed?”
I can admit it. I expected the Indians, one of the hottest teams in the Big Country, to roll into the second round. Paradise had other plans and gave Jim Ned all it wanted in a 21-18 loss.
But perhaps that was a good thing.
The No. 6 Indians (10-1) made sure to leave no doubt in handling Dalhart 31-14 in a Class 3A Division I area playoff Friday. Jim Ned jumped to a 24-0 lead at halftime and didn’t look back.
Junior quarterback Tate Yardley, who can sometimes be overlooked because of standout running back Xavier Wishert, had an outstanding game. Yardley was 13 of 16 passing for 200 yards and a touchdown. He also ran 11 times for 30 yards and another score.
Wishert continued to do his thing, finishing with 131 yards and two TDs on 25 carries. Zach Henderson led all receivers with five catches for 82 yards and a score.
The defense was stout, too. In addition to two interceptions, Jim Ned had seven tackles for loss, including three sacks.
It was just the bounce-back the team needed as undefeated Brock looms this week. The No. 1-ranked Eagles haven’t been challenged since a 42-35 win over 4A Iowa Park on Sept. 18.
That should make for a great Thanksgiving week clash. The game is set for 2 p.m. Friday at Tarleton Memorial Stadium in Stephenville.
Appetizing third round games
That’s far from the only mouth-watering matchup in Round 3.
Cisco and Hawley advanced to the Region I-2A D-I semifinals to set up an all-Big Country clash Friday in Brownwood.
The No. 6 Loboes won their seventh in a row by beating Olton 46-15 in an area playoff. Cisco (9-3) hasn’t lost to a 2A team all season.
Hawley (10-2) has also won seven consecutive games. The Bearcats beat Sundown for a second-straight year with a 34-20 decision Friday.
I know this will jinx it, but it should be a short game with the two run-heavy teams. That also means a hard-nosed battle in the trenches. I can dig it.
Eastland is also in the third round after beating a nine-win Bells team 49-22. The Mavericks have won nine in a row after an 0-3 start. Eastland has only scored less than 49 points once during that streak, a 31-17 win over Comanche.
The Mavs, who were undermanned in the first meeting because of suspensions and injuries, get a rematch against Holliday. The Eagles came back from down 28 to win the Sept. 4 meeting 29-28 on a late two-point conversion.
That game is set for 7 p.m. Friday at Graham.
We also get a matchup of state-ranked teams at the 2A D-II level.
No. 5 Albany (10-1) cruised past Ralls to set up a region semifinal against No. 4 Windthorst. The Trojans trounced Archer City 42-7 in the area round.
Both teams’ only loss was to No. 2 Hamlin, the region favorite. The Pied Pipers face Muenster this week.
Westbrook also has a huge playoff game.
The No. 3 Wildcats (11-1) get another shot at district rival No. 1 Sterling City. It’s Westbrook’s deepest playoff run in school history. Those two will play 5 p.m. Saturday in Colorado City.
Strawn is also playing Thanksgiving week after beating Throckmorton 55-24.
It’s one of my favorite weeks of the season, and not just because of the turkey. More than ever, I’m thankful this year for Texas high school football.
Let’s remember where we were in the summer. The fact we’re still going is nothing short of incredible.