AREA PREP FOOTBALL: Mules set to take on Buckaroos

By Dave Wagner
Sports writer
For schools that are located several hundred miles apart, it’s almost as if the Muleshoe and Breckenridge football teams are on each other’s schedule.

The Mules and Buckaroos will play for the third consecutive year in the Texas Class 3A Division I area round of the playoffs tonight, matching up in a game scheduled for 7:30 p.m. (CST) at Big Spring.

Breckenridge won 28-7 in 2014, while the Mules came back for a 31-20 victory last season.

“It’s the rubber game, I guess,” Mules coach David Wood quipped.

Also tonight, Farwell takes on Wellington in a 7 p.m. (CST) matchup of 10-1 teams in Class 2A Division II at Dick Bivins Stadium in Amarillo. Meantime on the New Mexico side, Melrose travels to Magdalena for a 6 p.m. 8-man semifinal game today, and Texico visits Eunice in a 1 p.m. Class 3A quarterfinal on Saturday.

Wood said the Mules (7-4), coming off a 68-13 drubbing of Kermit in last week’s bi-district round, pretty much know what to expect from the Buckaroos (5-6), who operate out of a triple-option veer attack.

“They’re a good, solid football team,” Wood said. “They’re just a hard-nosed running team. They haven’t changed anything.”

Breckenridge’s makeup is demonstrated by senior running back-defensive tackle Brady Tennison. “He’s a hard-nosed kid that’s hard to bring down,” Wood said.

Last week at Denver City, the Mules got off to a quick start in easily dispatching Kermit.

“We didn’t really know what to expect,” Wood said of that one. “We didn’t take them lightly at all, so we just got rolling and never really stopped.”

Class 2A Division II — After blasting Tahoka 59-6 on Thursday, the competition picks up significantly this week for Farwell. The Steers last met Wellington in the 2013 regional round at Kimbrough Stadium in Canyon and the Rockets won handily 50-14 en route to a 14-0 record and the then-Class 1A Division II state title.

Wellington’s only setback this season was a 22-15 decision on Oct. 7 to Memphis, which is also 10-1 and playing this week in the area round. The Steers’ loss came to Class 2A Division I member Post 61-33 on Sept. 30.

“They’re pretty good,” Steers coach Danny Brittain said of the Rockets. “They don’t have one (major) guy like Post had, but overall they’re probably a better team.”

Wellington has significant size in its line, led by 6-foot-11, 335-pound guard-defensive tackle Trevor Roberson. “They run to his side about 90 percent of the time,” Brittain said.

Other top players are junior quarterback-free safety Luke Williams, son of Wellington coach Wade Williams, and sophomore running back-cornerback John Roland.

“We match up pretty well,” Brittain said. “I think we may be a little faster overall, but they’re pretty solid.”

New Mexico
8-man — Magdalena (9-1) is looking for revenge after losing at Melrose 38-16 in the 8-man semis two years ago, the teams’ only previous meeting.

Two-time defending 8-man champion Melrose (9-1), which has won nine in a row, has outscored its opponents 457-86 while the Steers, winners in their last seven, have a 448-208 advantage. Both teams lost only to top-ranked Gateway Christian, although Magdalena was thumped 54-0.

Junior quarterback-free safety Jorrell Mirabal, whose father is Magdalena’s AD, and senior running back-linebacker Lucas Zamora are the Steers’ key players. The top receiver is senior Kindell Kelly.

“Their quarterback is the one that makes them go,” Buffaloes coach Dickie Roybal said. “As far as size goes, we haven’t seen a team as big as them as the team from Colorado (Mancos, which lost to the Buffs 28-20 on Sept. 9 in Albuquerque).

“We’re going to have to do a good job of playing gap defense and containing the Mirabal kid.”

With a win, the Buffs face the Gateway-Mesilla Valley winner in next week’s finals. They would play in Roswell if Gateway wins — due to hosting the Warriors in last year’s title game — or host the SonBlazers by virtue of holding the higher seed.

Class 3A — Texico (5-5) has recovered from an 0-5 start to win five in a row. Now the fifth-ranked Wolverines’ path is likely to go through the top four the rest of the way.

Fourth-ranked and fourth-seeded Eunice (6-4) beat the Wolverines 19-6 in Texico on Sept. 16.

“I think we’ve gotten a lot better,” Texico coach Ryan Autrey said. “We’ve eliminated a lot of the mistakes we were making. I see this being a four-quarter game.”

Autrey said the Wolverines aren’t sure what they’ll get from the Cardinals. Junior quarterback Kari York has been out the past couple of games and a freshman, Mason Caperton, has taken over under center.

Autrey said York is the better runner, while Caperton is more of a thrower.

Last week, Texico jumped out to a 24-6 halftime lead en route to a 24-12 first-round win at home over Tularosa.