Football team looks to keep playoff hopes alive


Lovejoy Football Smugmug

The football team race s out of the Leopard’s mouth in front of the FNL crowd.

Caleb Stein, Staff Reporter

Battling from the brink to keep the hope of making the playoffs alive, the football team (3-5 overall, 2-3 district) is staring down another must-win game on Senior Night tonight against Mesquite Poteet (5-3, 4-1) at 7 p.m, an emotional final home game for many of the players.

Poteet is the second of three teams the Leopards must beat in a row to have a chance at a playoff spot. The Leopards will also need some help in the form of multiple losses from Poteet or Wylie East in the final two weeks of the season. Poteet boasts a balanced offensive attack featuring quarterback Kaleb Fletcher and running back Daiquan Jackson. Fletcher completed 11-19 passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns, while Jackson added 135 yards rushing and four touchdowns on 15 carries in Poteet’s 48-0 win against Royse City (2-6, 0-5).

“The key to beat Poteet will be to play fast, be aggressive, and be more physical,” sophomore quarterback Carson Collins said. “They have a lot of speed, but we’ve been playing really well, and have been focused and paid attention to the details. If we continue that, we can expose them in all phases of the game.”

Collins completed 22 of his 35 passes for 265 yards and three touchdowns in the Leopards’ 21-7 win against North Forney (4-4, 1-4), bringing his season totals to 1,894 yards passing and 17 touchdowns. Junior receiver Chase Van Wagoner caught six passes for 97 yards and two touchdowns, bringing his totals to 39 catches for 721 yards and 10 touchdowns. Senior running back Chad Hesson brought needed life to the running game with 132 yards rushing on 19 carries.

“I think our biggest advantage will be that we have practiced hard all week and we’re prepared,” senior offensive lineman Cole Egger said. “We are ready to battle both physically and mentally because everything’s at stake. If we lose, we’re out.”

Tonight will be the last game for many of the players to suit up in front of a home crowd Egger said that being a senior has changed what he thought came with the territory of being that role on the team.

“In the past I thought being a senior meant leading the team and always knowing what to do and what’s going on,” Egger said. “However I realize now that being a senior isn’t just leading the team, it’s being a person the young guys can look up to.”

The pressure of the game for the players will be high, but Collins said that if the team ignores it they will win.

“I just feel like if we go out and play our best we will definitely win,” Collins said. “I believe in my teammates and know that we are very capable of beating Poteet.”

Egger said that the his time in football has taught him lessons and given him takeaways, all of which culminate in the last home game.

“My biggest takeaway would be that I can always rely on my teammates,” Egger said. “No matter how tough things get, they’ll be there. I’ve had to battle through injuries and I don’t think I would have been able to do it without their encouragement.”

Through the ups and downs the season has brought, Collins said the team has bonded over quest to make the playoffs.

“We’ve all been super positive and uplifting and encouraging to each other,” Collins said. “We know we have a chance to make the playoffs and we are willing to do everything we can to earn our place in the playoffs this year. We are not finished yet.”