TAPPS Preview Week 10: All on the line between Grace Community and Brook Hill

Published on Thursday, 9 November 2017 15:01 - Written by CHRIS PARRY, cparry@tylerpaper.com

Win and you’re in the playoffs.

It makes it pretty simple for Bullard Brook Hill and Grace Community.

The Guard face the Cougars on Senior Night for Grace with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Clyde-Perkins Stadium.

The Cougars (4-5) are coming off a win last week at Bishop Gorman to raise TAPPS District 2, Division II record to 2-2. The Guard currently sit at 1-3 in District 2 while Gorman (6-2, 2-3) is idle this week.

Gorman has already qualified for the playoffs due to the point system, so that means the final spot is up for grabs.

If Grace wins, it leapfrogs Gorman into third place by virtue of its head-to-head win. Brook Hill will finish fourth with a victory.

The scenarios are enough to make anyone dizzy, but Grace coach Norm Thompson is keeping his team focused on the main objective Friday.

“(Brook Hill) still has hope and we have to take care of business,” said Thompson, whose Cougars took down Gorman 45-39 last week.

“You want to be at home at have every advantage you can. Our focus has been easy this week. You win, you’re in; and if you don’t, you’re out. We have had 8 years in a row where we’ve made the playoffs and no one wants to be that group that breaks the string.”

Brook Hill has lost three in a row as injuries to quarterback and offensive line have limited the Guard’s options. None of that will matter if Brook Hill goes on the road Friday and wins at Grace.

“This is a playoff week already,” Ryle said. “Grace is a good football team and our kids are fired up for this game. We are still a lot shorthanded, but I am excited about the kids that have stepped into those roles. ”

Grace enters with momentum after winning three in a row, one of those a non-district shootout victory over Irving Cistercian. The Cougars have relied on the steady play of quarterback Braydon Stone, who was able to do enough to deny the Crusaders and junior quarterback Jake Smith, who threw six touchdowns for his team in a loss.

Stone enters this contest with 906 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns to go along with 1,506 yards passing and 11 scores.

“Braydon knows how to read defenses and we have several plays where he is making the read (on run-pass option),” Thompson said. “He’s on our sprint relay team in track, so once he takes off, he can leave people.”

Ryle said his team’s No. 1, 2 and 3 focus this week is containing Stone.

“You must stop Stone. He is the most explosive player on their team,” Ryle said. “He does a heck of a job running their offense. Against Gorman he got loose a couple times and he keeps plays alive. He’s the key that makes that offense go.”

Ryle added because of Stone and Grace’s offensive firepower in general, Brook Hill’s offense must score touchdowns and control the game by keeping the Cougars’ offense off the field.

“The last couple games there were some plays to be had and we are not making them,” Ryle said. “We just have to clean it up. Now those younger kids (who were forced to play because of injuries) have some games under their belt.”

Grace comes into this game averaging 37.2 points per game compared to 25.6 for Brook Hill, but Thompson has stressed to his team rivalry games are all about emotion.

“No turnovers and controlling the ball while not allowing them to get any kind of momentum,” Thompson said. “They are a very emotional club and always have been. If we can get up on them, we feel like we are in good shape because we can keep increasing the pressure by keeping the ball.”