Crockett gridmen continue their tough district schedule with a showdown with unbeaten Garrison on the road Friday night.
The Bulldogs (1-1) are licking their wounds after falling to Newton 38-35, while Garrison sits at 2-0 with wins over Deweyville (27-12) and Hemphill (27-0).
"This is another big one," said Bulldog Head Coach Jimmy Thompson. "This is always a pivotal game. It was a pivotal game last year and it is again this year."
Last year Garrison brought a 2-0 record into Driskell Stadium, where the 0-2 Bulldogs prevailed 45-12. That victory marked a turning point for the Bulldogs, who then won their final two games over Hemphill and Deweyville to give them momentum heading into the 2014 playoffs.
Thompson said winning their last three games would clinch second place for the Bulldogs. "If we don't then it's a week-to-week situation," he said.
Right now the Bulldogs are focused on taking care of business against Garrison.
"The weather forecast is for rain, and that's sometimes an equalizer. Hopefully we'll handle that Friday night," said Thompson.
"This is one of those games where we have to play well. If we do, we'll win. If not, we won't," cautioned Thompson.
Offensively, Garrison runs a version of the flexbone. "They run option football. Garrison has a lot of tradition and their kids will come out and play hard," he said.
"Garrison has a lot of confidence with five wins this year," observed Thompson. In addition to the two district wins, Garrison was victorious over San Augustine (26-7), New Diana (51-14) and Marlin (35-12) while suffering back-to-back losses to Shelbyville (20-12) and Center (33-10).
"They've got some speed and quickness, plus good size," points out Thompson. "It's a typical Garrison team that gets after it."
Running back Terrance Dove is the offensive spark plug. "He's a running back-safety-type player who has very good quickness."
Thompson added, "Their strengths are running the football and good defensive play. They keep opponents run-conscious and when they throw the ball they've been very efficient."
Middle linebacker Carson Rodriguez (6-0, 239) is one of Garrison's defensive standouts. "He's a big, strong kid," said Thompson.
Thompson is quite familiar with Garrison's football program since he was head coach there from 1999-2004. Thompson's 2003 Garrison squad defeated Bangs 27-0 to win the Class 2A state championship.
Thompson's message to the Bulldogs going into this week's contest is, "We have to keep improving."
"We played fairly physical against Newton, but we weren't always aligned where we needed to be because of their shifts. Even at that, we still played a physical game. But to be the team we need to be, we have to keep getting more physical every week. If we do, we've got a chance to play a while."
Thompson is also stressing the importance of execution.
"I tell the kids that if we go out and execute, we're as good as anybody. If we don't, we're as bad as anybody. It's all about us. The Good Lord gave us the talent to do what we need to do; it's just a mat-
ter of doing it."