The Celina football team has been on an absolute tear as of late and has cruised to a pair of convincing district wins over Sanger and North Lamar to begin action in 7-4A Division I.
Even dating back to their final non-district matchup over Fort Worth Dunbar, the Bobcats currently ride a three-game winning streak and have outscored their opponents 170-19 in that span.
However, the going gets much tougher this week against a Paris squad that crushed Celina last season by a whopping 40 points.
Although the Wildcats graduated some key pieces within the offensive line and at quarterback from last year’s team, which reached the third round of the playoffs, they still return plenty of firepower to make another run in 2019.
Paris also comes to town supplying a new-look offense that Celina has yet to see this season with the wing-T rushing attack, similar to what Pleasant Grove or Frisco implements.
To have a successful wing-T style, it takes a strong group of ball carriers, and the Wildcats have just that with senior running back Zykius Jackson leading the charge. On the season, Jackson leads his team in all major rushing statistics with 97 carries for 898 yards and 14 touchdowns.
“[Jackson] is very impressive,” said Bill Elliott, Celina head coach. “He’s the man and it’s all about stopping him.”
Of course, it isn’t just Jackson creating nightmares for opposing defenses, as others like Dorian Williams and K.D. Washington must be accounted for at all times as well. The dynamic duo behind Jackson has accounted for nearly 600 yards combined on the ground this season, which makes the Wildcats’ unique offensive style even more difficult to stop.
The wing-T in and of itself also provides problems in preparations for the week due to the fact that no other team the Bobcats will see during the regular season runs it.
Simply getting to the line on time and matching up with assignments could be a chore Friday night because Paris will also break the huddle and get to the line of scrimmage much differently as well.
“What they do that is so hard to defend is that they huddle about 2 or 3 yards away from the ball and then snap the ball in less than three seconds from breaking the huddle,” Elliott said. “The hardest thing is just getting lined up, and that’s the big thing we have had to work on all week.”
Unlike last year at this time, the Wildcats already have a district loss under their belts after Melissa became the only other team outside of Argyle to crack that code in 7-4A Division I action.
The Cardinals were able to pull off the upset by utilizing their dual-threat quarterback Brendon Lewis to go blow-for-blow in a wild 54-46 outcome. Celina, on the other hand, will look to slow things down with its powerful ground game, led by senior running back commit Logan Point.
The Navy commit is coming off of a four-touchdown performance last week and feeding him the rock while keeping the Paris offense off of the field as much as possible just might be the key to making this rematch a close affair unlike last year.
“We need to control the game by controlling the football,” Elliott said. “Our defense also has to rise up and make some stops. We know they are going to make some plays, and we just have to weather that storm in the first quarter.”
Kickoff between Celina and Paris is slated for 7 p.m. tonight at Bobcat Field.