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Things change, but Kemp-Eustace stays the same
Kemp-Eustace season opener has a lot of new faces, but still expected to be close
By Kerry Yancey
Monitor Staff Writer

KEMP–This year’s Kemp-Eustace matchup is a little different.
It’s not a district ballgame, for a change – it’s the first game of the season – and there’s a lot of new faces on both sides of the ball. KHSvsVanScrim.jpg (289486 bytes)
Two things will remain the same, however. It will feature two very evenly matched squads, and the game probably will come down to one or two plays – maybe the last play.

Monitor Photo/Kerry Yancey
Kemp High School senior Ryan Norman drags most of the Van defense with him for a 15-yard gain during a matchup of second-team offense and defense at Kemp's second controlled scrimmage of the season against the visiting Vandals Aug. 19.

That’s certainly been what the coaches and fans on both sides have come to expect.
Although Eustace holds a 4-2 edge in the last six years, including the last three in a row, only once (in 2008) has the contest not been determined in the fourth quarter.
The 2005 game (the first of two straight Kemp wins) went to double overtime, and last year’s game went to Eustace, 21-20, because Kemp misfired on a point-after attempt with two minutes to play.
“I don’t think anything will surprise me, other than it not being close,” Eustace coach Doug Wendel said Monday.
“I think it will be one that comes down right to the end,” Kemp coach Greg Anderson agreed Monday
Both coaches saw a lot of good things and bad things in their respective second scrimmages Aug. 19.
Kemp had the tougher time, facing a tradition-rich Van Vandal team just two years removed from a district title and a deep run in the playoffs.
In a major scare, junior Blake Murray, who started at quarterback, was injured when sacked by the Vandals.
At the time, it looked like Murray had suffered a serious – possibly career-threatening – knee injury, but Anderson said Monday an MRI Saturday revealed it was just a grade-2 strain of his MCL.
“That was probably the best news we could get,” Anderson said. “It means no surgery, and he might be back by the third game. We’re definitely feeling good about that.”
Van’s outside speed gave Kemp some trouble, but Anderson pointed out the ’Jackets had their chances.
“We were inside the 20 twice,” he said. “One time, we missed a field goal and the other time we fumbled the ball.”
Kemp fumbled three times against a talented, veteran Vandal defense, and the ’Jacket offensive line didn’t perform well, but Van’s athletic and huge defensive line might have had something to do with that.
In contrast, the Bulldogs had a good trophy hunt against the visiting Elkhart Elks Aug. 19.
“In three days of practice, our defense got a lot more aggressive,” Wendel said. “I can’t say enough about how far our defense has come. We made dramatic strides from last week.”
“(Sophomore cornerback) John Bradshaw did a good job, and (sophomore) Tyler Folsom did, too,” Wendel said. “I also was impressed with (senior returnee) Owen Babcock. It was nice to see him be able to get on the field on defense and make some plays.”
Defensively, the Bulldogs stifled the Elks early and often, causing two fumbles and picking off an interception. EHSvsElkhartScrm6.jpg (234588 bytes)
“Offensively, our ones didn’t get stopped,” Wendel said. “We had two TD passes and four (TD) runs.

Monitor Photo/Kerry Yancey
An Elkhart supporter on the sideline reacts with dismay as a dominate Eustace Bulldog defense recovers an Elks fumble during the second controlled scrimmage for both teams Aug. 19.

“I was fairly pleased with our defense – we were going against a front that we don’t see much anymore – but we’ve still got a ways to go on our option game,” he added.
Turning to Friday night’s season opener, Wendel said he expected Kemp’s defense to be tough, perhaps tougher than any they’ll see this season.
“Defensively, they played us as well as anybody last year, and they’ve got a lot of those folks back,” he said. “Scheme-wise, they took away what we did best.
“I don’t put any stock in how they did in their scrimmages,” Wendel said, noting the ’Jackets faced two likely playoff teams in Brownsboro and Van.
“I think we’re as equal as we’ve ever been,” he added. “The numbers are almost identical.”
“I’ve been telling our kids that Eustace will come in here and be very well-coached,” Anderson said. “The key for us will be to try to get a feel fairly quickly of what he (Wendel) wants to do.
“This year, they’ve got unproven personnel – unproven at the varsity level – so we’ll try to see where he feels he can attack us,” Anderson said.
“This (game) is going to be a great measuring stick for both of us,” Wendel said. “I think it may be the toughest test for our offense this year.
“Their offensive line come off the ball well, and they have hard-nosed backs,” he added. “They look a lot like us. I’m impressed with their defense. Their kids know what they’re doing, and they get there pretty quick.”
Anderson said he always figures three things will determine the outcome of the first game of the season – turnovers, the kicking game and conditioning.
That said, Anderson noted conditioning probably won’t be an issue, since both teams will have a lot of players going both ways.
Special teams play is always an aspect where a game can turn, Anderson pointed out. Scrimmages don’t have punts and kickoffs to avoid the possibility of injury so early in the season, so neither team has seen a full-speed return.
“You can have a punt return or a kick return, or bobble it and give up field position or the ball,” he said. “That or a careless turnover by a running back, especially if you give up field position.
“If someone puts the ball on the ground two or three times, that certainly could lead to one score,” Anderson added. “No matter how much you work on it in practice, special teams are always something you want to work on more.”

MHS hosts Tigers in opener
By Kerry Yancey
Monitor Staff Writer

MABANK–Coming off a disappointing performance in the second scrimmage of the season against Athens, the Mabank Panthers will need to pick up on the fundamentals when they welcome the Wills Point Tigers to Panther Stadium for the season opener Friday night.
“Our kids weren’t ready to play (against Athens Aug. 19),” Panther head coach Jimmy Cantrell said Monday.
“Scrimmages aren’t about wins and losses or even Athens – they’re about us,” Cantrell said. “Even though it was a scrimmage, our kids have got to be ready to play.”
The Hornets have switched to a running-based Wing-T offense this season, which is something the Panthers haven’t seen in a while, but there are some things that should be done, no matter what the offense looks like, he said.
“We didn’t read our key, and we showed the worst tackling I’ve seen in four years,” Cantrell said. “It didn’t look like the same team that played Jacksonville (in the first scrimmage).”
The Panthers have to learn how to handle the Wing-T, because district foes Kaufman and Ferris both run that offense. “We’re going to have to get good at playing the run,” he said.
Last year, the Hornets came into Panther Stadium, looking like a team searching for an identity.
“It was a role reversal this year,” Cantrell said. “We looked like a team searching for an identity, and Athens knew what they were doing.
“We’ve got to get better at blocking and tackling,” he added. “It comes back to us coaches – we’ve got to have them ready to play.”
After Wills Point’s grass field got chewed into a giant mud puddle early last season, a new artificial turf field was ordered – but it won’t be ready for Friday night’s season opener, so the Tigers are coming to Mabank.
“I think we match up with them better (than Athens) because of what they do,” Cantrell said.
Despite the sloppiness of their field, the Tigers put together a complete turnaround last year, rebounding from a 1-9 season to become the district champions.
“They’ve got a bunch of returnees on both sides of the ball,” Cantrell said. “They are the state 7-on-7 champions, so that shows they can throw and catch the ball.”
Wills Point’s spread offense revolves around senior quarterback Trent Jurica, a three-year starter, who is accurate and strong.
Jurica has shown an ability to distribute the ball to a number of talented and fast receivers. The Tigers also have a couple of extremely quick running backs, although they have been about 70/30 pass/run in scrimmages.
Defensively, the Tigers have shown a 4-3 and a 3-4, and Cantrell said he expects Wills Point to use a 3-4 against the Panther spread.
“For us to win the game, we have to control the line of scrimmage,” Cantrell said. “As much as I hate to say it, Athens won that battle on both sides of the ball.
“If we do things right, there are some zones open (in the defense),” he added. “But, we’ve got to establish some kind of running game.”


Upcoming Events


Aug. 28
Race Day
skippers meeting 9 a.m. race 10 a.m.

Sept. 11
AMU race 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Oct. 9
Fun Sail

Oct. 23
Race Day

Nov. 6
Fun Sail or Make-up race


Aug. 27
MHS vs Wills Point (site chg)

Sept. 3
MHS vs Quinlan Ford
KHS @ Edgewood
EHS vs Tyler Grace

Sept. 10
MHS vs Canton (HC)
KHS @ Mineola
EHS vs Edgewood

Cross country

Aug. 28
KHS @ Greenhill Relays
EHS @ Greenhill Relays
(Norbuck Park, Dallas)

Sept. 4
KHS @ Kaufman Relays
EHS @ Kaufman Relays


Aug. 26-28
MHS @ Tyler Invitational
KHS @ Wills Point tourney
EHS @ Tyler Invitational

Aug. 27
KHS vs Cross Roads

Aug. 31
MHS vs John Tyler
KHS @ Quinlan Ford
EHS @ Edgewood

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