Heading into the playoffs a year ago, many experts had the struggling Celina football team pegged to not even get out of the first round, much less give Argyle a run for its money three weeks later.
During that unexpected postseason run, the Bobcats bulldozed through a heavily favored Stephenville squad in the second round.
Although Celina seems to be an improved team from last season, it still faces a similar predicament this week when it must now prepare to take on defending state champion Waco La Vega in the area around.
The Bobcats are riding high off of a first-round blowout victory over Carrollton Ranchview and the confidence that comes with that and the playoff attitude known around town as “Celina Time” is propelling the ball club to gear up for a potential upset over the Pirates.
“It’s the same feeling like against Stephenville last year, and it’s that playoff feeling where the kids are getting excited and want to go do something,” said Bill Elliott, Celina head coach. “They know they have to pick it up a level and that’s just what it’s about being in the playoffs. It’s all about preparation and the mindset that you have in believing in what you can do to make it happen.”
Elliott’s crew will have its hands full with the No. 3-ranked team in Class 4A Division I, which has just one loss on the season in a 49-35 defeat to No. 1 Argyle back on Sept. 6. Since then, the Pirates are pouring in nearly 48 points per game, including a 65-0 pounding over Lake Worth in the bi-district round.
La Vega’s offense is predicated on the ground game, which is led by running backs Jar’Que Walton and Elisha Cummings, who each have over 900 rushing yards and 28 touchdowns combined.
Spearheading that side of the football is senior quarterback Landry Kinne, who is a threat to take off with the rock in a variety of fashions and has proven he can toss the pigskin around a bit as well with 19 touchdowns.
Those are just a few of the Pirates’ standouts to watch for, but the bread and butter lies up front with their massive offensive line, which averages out to 288 pounds and features three players weighing in at 300 pounds or more.
The Celina defense, which is known for its ability to limit opposing running backs, must be prepared to win the battle with the big boys up front while also keeping the La Vega backs from breaking a big run out of the backfield or on short screen passes.
“The big pass down the field hasn’t been their big game,” Elliott said. “What they do plays well for us and reminds me a lot of Paris, and it’s going to be the fact of us getting lined up and making sure we’re sound. They are also so slippery that we have to make sure we are great tacklers.”
Kickoff between Celina and La Vega is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Saginaw Chisholm Trail.