Fossil Ridge, Central face Arlington playoff foes

Posted Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Fossil Ridge wrapped up a runner-up finish in District 4-5A with a win on Friday over Timber Creek and now looks ahead to its bi-district match-up with Arlington this Friday at 7:30 p.m. UNT’s Apogee Stadium.

Central, although losing to Northwest, 26-22, still earned a fourth-place finish and a trip to the first round of the postseason.

Ridge will compete in Division II, while Central will represent the district in Division I and is playing at 7:30 p.m. Thursday against Arlington Martin at Newsome Stadium in Mansfield ( editor’s note – correction from the print version).

Fossil Ridge head coach Tony Baccarini said the focus moving into the “fourth season” for the Panthers (7-3) won’t really change much from the previous portions of the season.

“It may be odd, but it’s always been about us,” Baccarini said of the where the attention will be paid. “We’ve had different things to hang our hat on. This year it’s been about us and what we do and how we play, and playing physically.”

It’s not that Arlington hasn’t caught the attention of the Panthers, however.

The Panthers coaching staff will give the team a game plan and break the game down for the team.

“But when it comes down to it, it’s up to us to play the game the way it should be played,” Baccarini said.

“I’ve seen them play twice in person,” Baccarini said of Arlington. “They’re a very good football team and a lot like us. They’re very athletic and play good defense. They get around and are aggressive on defense and they have a running back that’s big and fast. They’ve also got a good operator at quarterback.”

In the 48-20 win over Timber Creek, one of the best outcomes was that all the Panthers players had an opportunity to get onto the field and, more importantly, all came off the field in good health.

Jacob Gnacinski threw for three touchdowns and Cody Seidel kicked his eighth and ninth field goals on the season for Fossil Ridge.

“We won’t change a whole lot as the season goes on,” Baccarini said of playoff preparations. “We cut back a little, as conditioning is not as much of a factor and we want to keep them fresh.”

With a win, the Panthers would take on the winner of the San Angelo Central and El Paso Montwood game.

•  For Central (5-5), the key to getting their postseason appearance may well have been their upset of Fossil Ridge, 13-9, in mid-October.

In their loss to Northwest, the Chargers had posted a 14-0 lead in the second quarter but couldn’t get the offensive momentum maintained until after the Texans scored twice.

Central regained the lead 22-19 after Jake McClurg hit Jaxon Nichols for a score and the two-point conversion on a Corey Beahm catch from McClurg.

A 71-yard scoring pass spelled the difference for Northwest to complete the comeback.

“The guys were disappointed with the loss, but are still very excited about the playoffs,” Central head coach Bart Helsley said. “We just have to refocus. We were able to achieve one of our goals, so the excitement is still there.”

Now, Central will take on the District 3-5A champion, Martin (8-2), with a chance to take on either El Paso Franklin or Odessa.

In other games in the season finale, Keller lost to Richland, 30-23 in a game which the Indians held a 23-22 lead until the Rebels scored on a 51-yard pass and converted the 2-point try.

Dalton Mills rushed for 145 yards and two scores for Keller, while Hunter McEachern threw for 114 yards and a score. The loss leaves Keller at 5-5 for the season.

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