The Keller Timber Creek football team moves on to the second round of the Division I playoffs and will host San Angelo Central, thanks to zip code 76655.
After Timber Creek outdueled Arlington Martin, 54-51, to advance to the area round, Central’s staff wanted to flip a coin to determine which home field would host the contest.
Long distance coin flips aren’t logistically plausible, so the respective staffs agreed on the old standard, even-or-odd selection, but based it on a selected city’s zip code.
Timber Creek head coach Kevin Golden was asked to pick a city – with a single zip code – while SA Central would select even or odd. The custom in Texas high school football is to turn to the Clell Wade Coaches Directory for a city selection.
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Lorena, where Golden first coached in Texas, was a sentimental favorite. When the SA Central’s head coach Brent Davis picked “even,” the choice of location was won by Timber Creek due to the odd number-ending zip, 76655.
The Falcons hope the “coin flip” is a favorable omen as they prepare to play the 11-0 Bobcats on Friday at 7 p.m. at Keller ISD Stadium.
While SA Central boasts a 53.3 points per game attack, the Falcons have been displaying an offense of their own which has been difficult to stop.
The passing attack has been potent with quarterback Cade Schrader connecting with receivers such as Erik Ezukanma, Eric Mills and Jerome Jackson.
Add in the recent rushing game, bolstered by Blake Irving (26 carries, 211 yards in the Martin win), and Timber Creek has the balance to take what defenses give.
“You need to have a running game to balance out the offense,” Golden said. “We take what’s given to us. (Martin) was so worried about our passing game that we were able to get yards on the ground. To be successful, you have to get one or the other going.
Irving came on for Timber Creek after the fourth game of the season, when Nathan Grimes went down due to injury.
Golden applauded the work of the offensive line in the Martin game.
“The ground game is often overshadowed by our passing game,” Golden said.
The first playoff win in the school’s second appearance is huge for the relatively new school as it develops its culture.
“Our new principal, Donny Bartlett, is working on the new culture and with the football team winning, it sets things on a good note. The student body comes together and we experience new things with each other,” Golden added.
“It was an amazing atmosphere after the game and for those kids. It helps build a program for a new school. It was just a breakthrough game and I hope this is one of them to start a tradition.”
Looking ahead, though, the Falcons will have to contend with a solid SA Central team which scores a lot of points. The Bobcats have receivers standing 6-8 and 6-5 with a quarterback who makes good decisions, Golden said.
“They’re a sound, fundamental football team. But they’re not indestructible,” Golden said.
The Falcons defense will need to rise to the occasion as they did against Martin, where they picked off three Warriors passes to give the ball back to the Falcons’ offense.
Special teams can also turn the tide for Timber Creek. Mills returned a kickoff 95 yards for a score and also caught a TD pass from Ezukanma, among many trick and special teams plays.
The shootout with Martin seemed to work in Timber Creek’s favor.
“We’ll do our best against Central and maybe get them in a shootout. We’ll see what happens,” Golden said.
Keller Central lost in its first-round game to Arlington Bowie, 20-17.
The Chargers end the season at 6-5.
In another first round game, Fossil Ridge bowed out of the playoffs in a loss to Mansfield, 55-10, in a Division II game.
That ended the Panthers’ season at 7-4.
Trophy Club Nelson was also a bi-district casualty to Denton Guyer, 52-21 and ended the season at 4-7.