WACO- The Midway ​Panthers​ ​play​ ​host​ ​to​ ​cross​ ​town​ ​rival​ Waco​ ​High Lions in a battle for bragging rights and undefeated teams.​ ​Last​ ​season,​ ​Midway​ ​came​ ​out​ ​victorious​ ​in​ ​the​ ​matchup​ ​21-7,​ ​but​ ​the Lions​ ​will​ ​be​ ​looking​ ​to​ ​walk​ ​out​ ​of​ ​Panther​ ​Stadium​ ​with​ ​the​ ​win​ ​this​ ​season.

Waco High RB Terrance Hamilton (Photo: 247 Sports)

In an era of spread attacks, Waco High has gotten the job done with their ground and pound style. The Lions are ​currently​ ​averaging​ ​nearly 235 yards ​rushing​ ​per game and ​45​ ​points​ ​per​ ​game to their credit. Senior​ ​RB​ ​Terrance​ ​Hamilton​ ​is​ ​the​ ​go​-​to​ ​guy​ ​for​ ​the​ ​Lions,​ ​averaging​ ​7.3​ ​yards​ ​per​ ​carry​ ​and 112.3​ ​yards​ ​per​ ​game.​ ​Last​ ​week​ ​against​ ​Harker​ ​Heights,​ ​Hamilton​ ​finished​ ​the​ ​game​ ​with​ ​149 yards​ ​on​ ​18​ ​carries​ ​with​ ​3​ ​touchdowns.​

​Waco​ ​High​ ​Senior​ ​quarterback ​Jaylen​ ​Harris​ has thrown for ​202​ ​yards, three touchdowns ​and​ ​one interception​ ​on​ ​the​ ​season.​ ​According to head coach Marty Herbst, Harris’s reps have been limited but is confident in his team’s ability to move the ball down the field in the air.

​“As​ ​we​ ​showed​ ​this​ ​past​ ​Friday​ ​when​ ​we​ ​need​ ​to​ ​throw​ ​the​ ​ball​ ​we​ ​can,​” Herbst said, ​”Late​ ​in​ ​the​ ​game when​ ​Harker​ ​Heights​ ​tied​ ​it​ ​up​ ​at​ ​35,​ ​we​ ​threw​ ​about​ ​a​ ​50​ -​yard​ ​strike​ ​to​ ​win​ ​the​ ​game”.

After​ ​a​ ​hard​ ​fought​ ​victory​ ​on​ ​the​ ​road​ ​in​ ​Temple​ ​last​ ​week,​ ​the​ ​Midway​ ​Panthers​ ​moved​ into the Top 10 ​in​ ​Class​ ​6A, currently standing at No. 9.​ ​Head coach Jeff ​Hulme​ ​explained​ ​that​ ​he​ ​didn’t​ ​shy​ ​away​ ​from​ ​the​ ​ranking​ ​with​ ​his​ ​squad and​ ​the​ ​Panthers​ ​talked​ ​about​ ​it​ ​at​ ​practice​ ​and​ ​used​ ​it​ ​has​ ​a​ ​motivational​ ​aspect.​ ​

​“Hey​ ​somebody​ ​out​ ​there​ ​thinks​ ​that​ ​we’re​ ​pretty​ ​good,​ ​so​ ​let’s​ ​practice​ ​like​ ​we’re pretty​ ​good,​ ​let’s​ ​get​ ​better​ ​today”, Hulme told TexasHSFootball earlier this week.

Waco Midway QB Tanner Mordecai (Photo: 247 Sports)

​The​ ​Panthers​ ​offense​ ​is​ ​extremely​ ​balanced,​ ​averaging the same number of rushing and receiving yards (226.7​) per game for the first three games of the season. ​Midway​ ​quarterback ​and​ ​Oklahoma​ ​commit​ ​Tanner Mordecai​ leads the way, as​ ​he’s thrown​ ​for​ ​680​ ​yards,​ ​eight ​touchdowns​ ​and​ ​three ​interceptions.​ ​

On the ground, the ​Panthers​ ​rushing​ ​game is​ ​led​ ​by​ ​junior​ ​running back ​James​ ​Fullbright, who’s​ ​accounted​ ​for​ ​448​ ​yards​ ​rushing​ ​and five​ ​touchdowns on ​7.6​ ​yards​ ​per​ ​carry.​ However, the running back did leave last Friday’s game at Temple ​with​ ​a​ ​bone​ ​bruise​ ​and​ ​is​ ​questionable​ ​for​ ​Friday’s​ ​game​.

If he can’t go, Hulme ​would turn to linebacker and “iron-man” Marcus Johnson, who turned into an unsung hero last week, ​rushing​ ​for​ ​almost 100​ ​yards​ ​and​ ​2​ ​touchdowns.​ He​ ​also finished​ ​the​ ​game​ ​with​ ​five ​tackles,​ two quarterback hurries and a ​sack on defense. ​​Hulme also said​ ​that​ ​Johnson​ ​would ​likely play​ ​less​ ​snaps​ ​on​ ​defense if he gets the start at running back.

These​ ​two​ ​teams​ ​have​ ​been​ ​playing​ ​each​ ​other​ ​off​ ​and​ ​on​ ​since​ ​1976, with ​Midway​ ​currently​ ​leads the​ ​series​ ​10-7.​ ​The​ ​two​ ​teams​ ​went​ ​from​ ​1985-2006​ ​without​ ​playing​ ​and​ ​after​ ​a​ 26- 24 ​Waco​ ​High victory​ ​at​ ​Midway​ ​in​ ​2011​, ​the​ ​Panthers​ ​previous​ ​coach​ ​called​ ​the​ ​game​ ​quits.​

​When Coach​ ​Hulme​ ​took​ ​the​ ​job​ ​at​ ​Midway​ ​he​ ​decided​ ​to​ ​resume​ ​the​ ​game​ ​stating​, “I​ ​like​ ​rival​ ​games, obviously​ ​both​ ​teams​ ​want​ ​to​ ​win​ ​and​ ​you’re​ ​not​ ​happy​ ​when​ ​you​ ​lose,​ ​but​ ​still​ ​it’s​ ​great​ ​for​ ​the community”.

Kickoff​ ​will​ ​be​ ​7:30pm​ ​Friday​ ​night​ ​at​ ​Midway​ ​and​ ​bragging​ ​rights​ ​for​ ​the​ ​best​ ​large​ ​school​ ​team in​ ​town​ ​will​ ​be​ ​decided.

Featured Image: Courtesy of Anna Ross

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