After a close loss to Shallowater just before district play, the Idalou Wildcats had their second loss of the season and quickly became an afterthought.
That is, until the playoffs.
One of the South Plains’ best teams in the last decade, Idalou took care of business in District 2-2A, Division I with four wins and zero losses.
The Wildcats (8-2 overall) won by an average margin of 30 points in district, and their only close game was a 35-20 win against Denver City, which finished third.
It’s easy to forget about Idalou simply because the Wildcats are expected to make the playoffs, win district and compete for a state championship.
Idalou is, after all, the most recent South Plains championship winner (2010).
However, Idalou coach Don Long doesn’t want his players to think about all of the high expectations that come with wearing the green and gold.
“One thing we talked about on Monday was that you need to enjoy the ride,” said Long, in his second year as the head coach of the Wildcats. “I think sometimes you get caught up in what’s expected and all that, and you forget to pat yourself on the back for what you’ve accomplished so far.”
Of course that doesn’t mean Long and the rest of the city of Idalou are content with simply making the playoffs.
In the meantime, Idalou will have to wait at least a week to see who it plays in the playoffs, as is normally the custom just northeast of Lubbock.
The Wildcats have a bye this week and will play the winner of Bangs and Breckenrdige in the area round.
Ralls gearing up for
‘second’ playoff game
Tim James told his Jackrabbits the playoffs started a week ago.
He wasn’t trying to fool his team into winning — although some coaches might want to look into that strategy. Ralls needed to win against Smyer to qualify for the postseason in a crowded District 4-1A, Division II playoff race.
“What we told them is we had to start the playoffs a week early,” said James, whose team finished in a three-way tie for the district championship. “If we want to continue to play, we must beat Smyer.”
And beat Smyer they did.
Ralls jumped out to a 35-6 halftime lead en route to a 41-6, playoff clinching victory.
The Jackrabbits are playing as the district runner-up via the tie-breaking scenarios.
Already seasoned playoff veterans with their win against Smyer, Ralls now turns its attention to a 7:30 p.m. Friday clash with Bovina in Levelland.
Ralls is led in the backfield by Kaleb Reese and Jonathan Van Gundy, a converted offensive lineman.
Van Gundy, who rumbled for 193 yards on 20 carries against Smyer, played on the front five last season before James gave him a chance in the backfield.
Van Gundy played scout-team running back, and an injury to Reese last season made James give his bruising lineman a chance to run in a game — every offensive lineman’s dream.
“I wised up and said, ‘maybe you need to play running back for us,’” James said.
The coach added that Van Gundy’s time as a lineman gave him extra know-how when running the ball.
Coupled with Reese, the duo have a chance to give the Jackrabbits a run further than just one or two games deep.
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