There might not be a better way to better prepare for the playoffs than to put your squad up to the test against the No. 1-ranked team in all of Class 4A Division I to end the regular season.
That’s exactly what Celina will do tonight when it hits the road to take on juggernaut Argyle with a potential district title on the line as well.
Sitting at 4-1 in the district standings with a postseason spot already secured, the Bobcats simply need to beat Argyle (5-0) by 13 points or more and they will be crowned the district champions of 7-4A Division I.
“You have to love that, and that’s what we have to look at and go after,” said Bill Elliott, Celina head coach. “We’re pumped up, and we’ve been thinking about it for a couple of weeks now.”
That will be much easier said than done, though, against one of the state’s top powerhouses of the past 20 years. In fact, the Eagles have not posted a losing campaign since 2002 and are 9-0 overall this season with impressive wins over Stephenville, Waco La Vega and Melissa.
On top of that, Celina has not taken down mighty Argyle since 2015 when it escaped with a 46-36 victory prior to district play, as the Bobcats went on to make a run at state later that year.
Last season, Argyle dismantled Celina, 63-21, in the regular-season finale before the Eagles got the best of the Bobcats once again in a third-round postseason nail biter, 26-22.
It’s safe to say revenge over the state’s No. 1 squad would not only be sweet, but it would provide a massive confidence boost heading into the playoffs.
“That would be huge going into the playoffs, and it would get our kids excited,” Elliott said. “We’re going to play the game and are going to go after it. There is really nothing to hold back, and we are going to do all we can to go win this.”
If Argyle defeats Celina, then the Bobcats will finish in third and kick things off next week in the first round against Carrollton Ranchview, Wilmer-Hutchins or Dallas Carter.
However, Elliott and his staff aren’t looking that far ahead and remain focused on the task at hand of taking on the Eagles.
Argyle will be without the services of its top rusher in senior Tito Bryce, who powered his way to 149 yards on 35 carries and two touchdowns in the Eagles’ postseason triumph over Celina a year ago.
In his place, the Bobcats are expecting senior Luke Farris to carry much of the load after he ran the ball a whopping 34 times for 236 yards and four scores two weeks ago against Melissa in Bryce’s absence.
Without Bryce in the mix, the Eagles should still be just fine with senior quarterback Bo Hogeboom running the show once again, as he has thrown for 2,349 yards and 39 touchdowns on the season. Junior wide receiver Cole Kirkpatrick has hauled in 17 of those Hogeboom touchdown passes and has been a matchup nightmare for nearly every defense he has faced so far.
But the bread and butter of the Eagles’ high-powered offense starts and ends with their massive offensive line, which has only allowed Hogeboom to be sacked one time all season.
“We know Hogeboom is a great athlete with a great arm and Kirkpatrick has laser speed, but their offensive line is the key,” Elliott said. “They are big, strong and play really well. If we can get to [Hogeboom] and get some of that done, it well help.”
Kickoff between Argyle and Celina is set for 7 p.m. tonight at Eagle Stadium in Argyle.