Lindale travels to Whitehouse Friday for the next chapter in this annual clash of area rivals.
It is the final regular-season game for both teams, Senior Night for the Wildcats and the result could have major implications as far as District 17-5A playoff seedings.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Wildcat Stadium.
Whitehouse (5-4, 2-2) enjoys the best starting position of the two teams entering play. The Wildcats are currently alone in third place in 17-5A and will lock up that spot with a win over the Eagles.
Lindale (4-5, 1-3) must play this game a little more forcefully while also keeping an eye on the score in Jacksonville. If the Eagles defeat the Wildcats and Nacogdoches (1-8, 0-4) tops Jacksonville (5-4, 1-1) it means Lindale and Whitehouse would both go into the playoffs as the third and fourth-place teams.
If Lindale wins and Jacksonville wins, things get a lot more complicated. That creates a three-way tie and it comes down to results between the three teams and margin of victory.
Whitehouse coach Adam Cook said his team “is in no matter what happens.”
“Our tiebreakers are by a maximum of 17 points and we are already at +17, so we’re maxed out,” Cook said.
Whitehouse defeated Jacksonville 24-7, so neither team can catch the Wildcats in a tiebreaker situation.
So, the reason Lindale must play this contest a little more forcefully is because in the event of a three-way tie, a victory for the Eagles is not enough. Lindale must win by 11 points or more.
“Our m.o. this week is control what we can control, and that ultimately is beating Whitehouse,” Lindale coach Chris Cochran said. “We have to go take care of business.”
Jacksonville is playing its final game at the historic Tomato Bowl against Nacogdoches, so Cochran said he is not anticipating a Jacksonville loss. That means it’s up to the Eagles to get the job done on the road.
“We are not just trying to win the fourth quarter on the first play of the game,” Cochran said. “We’ve had a good week of work. Our senior running back wanted to address the team on Monday, and it really (fired our kids up even more).”
Both Whitehouse and Lindale are coming off losses last week. The Wildcats were unable to pull off a road win at Corsicana (27-10) and Lindale was taken down by Jacksonville at home (25-15).
The Eagles allowed the game’s opening kickoff to be returned for a touchdown at the start and were held to three points in the second half.
Whitehouse could not overcome its own miscues in their loss.
“Each week we are seeing things we can get better at, but on offense, we just have to be more consistent,” Cook said. “We turned the ball over too much last week at Corsicana and lost. The week before that against Jacksonville we didn’t turn it over and won. To me, that is going to be the key (on Friday); not turning the ball over and playing good defense.”
Cochran said his team understands the task before them on Friday, and the Eagles are embracing the challenge and opportunity to continue their season.
“We are going into Week 10 playing one of our rivals for a playoff spot,” Cochran said. “That is why you coach and why you play.”