Comanches, Eagles and Elks: The Race to District 1-2A D1 Supremacy

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Photo courtesy of Shari Hudson

District competition started for many teams across small-town Texas last week, but one district from Class 2A provides much intrigue.

District 1-2A DI features six teams from high up in the Panhandle but it’s the three top teams, in particular, lighting up scoreboards and seeking to generate buzz within this quaint and homey region of Texas.

District play continued last week with wins for Stinnett West Texas, Sanford-Fritch and Stratford, improving the record of all three to 6-1 with 2-0 district marks. These three high-flying offenses begin their quest for the district title the last Friday of October, leaving each with additional time to prepare for the top challenges that await.

Stinnett West Texas Comanches

Photo: Courtesy of Lauren Monden

Stinnett’s lone loss on the season came against an always strong Wellington team in week two, but the Comanches’ 22 points scored was the most allowed in a game by the Skyrockets in 2017. It’s all part of the impressive growth of the unit, according to Head Coach Steven Flowers.

“They’ve been getting better every week; they’re really starting to gel as a unit,” said the coach. “They’re a relatively young team, so it’s been exciting watching them grow.”

The offense has been guided by standout do-it-all sophomore Jaylin Conyers, playing a big role in the unit’s 38.1 points per game average. The young phenom has tallied 969 yards and 17 touchdowns passing in the first six games of this season, along with 355 yards rushing and eight scores.

The defense is much of the same according to Flowers, a young unit growing with each game, averaging 17.8 points allowed per game.

“I looked at our non-district and thought ‘we ought to be 4-1’ by the end of it,” Flowers said.

His prediction was correct — outside of the loss to Wellington, the Comanches boast big wins over Claude and Booker to name a couple, shutting out the former and topping Booker with a 57 point showing. District play began with a 38-30 win over a Panhandle team which is in prime position to still grab a playoff spot.

“It was a big mental breakthrough for our team,” Flowers added. “We felt we were capable of beating them.”

The Comanches take on Sunray next week, in preparations for the home contest against Stratford on Nov. 3, and the season finale on the road in Fritch Nov. 10.

Flowers on Sanford-Fritch: Fritch started off last season pretty well, but they ran into big injury problems. They’re good again this year though, they’re healthy running on all cylinders. I would compare their physicality to Stratford.

Flowers on Stratford: There’s no secret to Stratford, they’re solid year in and year out. It’s going to be a physical battle, that’s all there is to it. They have tradition, and it’s hard to beat tradition.

Sanford-Fritch Eagles

Photo: Courtesy of Rod Goodwin

Hutchinson County rival Sanford-Fritch rebounded well from their season-opening loss to Spearman, now the winners of five straight heading into week eight.

“We try and schedule up our teams,” said head coach Houston Moos. “Four of the five we played, they ought to be playoff teams. I feel the kids did well.”

The Eagles offense has been tremendous since the week one loss, scoring an average of 49 points in the six games since. Leading the unit is quarterback Tucker Mayberry, who has lit up scoreboards all across the High Plains with 986 yards and 12 touchdowns on 48 completions in the first six games of 2017. S-F also benefits from a steady run game, namely Caden Farmer (561 yards rushing, 3 TDs) and Tyrese Norah (426 yards rushing, 8 TDs).

Photo: Courtesy of Rod Goodwin

“We put in a single-wing formation a couple of seasons ago, and it suited the kids at the time,” said Moos. “But our kids now have adapted to it well. This year we have kids who can throw the ball well; it’s the same concept, just some more RPOs.”

The Eagles dominated in their district opener, dispatching Boys Ranch 62-0.

“Boys Ranch is a little down from where they’ve been in the past,” said the coach. “But it was a good opportunity to get more of our kids playing time.”

The Eagles moved to 2-0 in district with last night’s win over Sunray. S-F will travel to Stratford to battle the Elks on the first of a road back-to-back, then return home for the regular season finale against West Texas.

Moos on Stratford: Stratford is Stratford, that’s all there is to it. It’s going to be a challenge for sure. There’s not a slouch on our remaining district schedule.

Moos on West Texas: Coach Flowers does a good job over at West Texas, he has them heading in the right direction. They have talent out the wazoo, and lots of speed.

Stratford Elks

Photo: Courtesy of Shari Hudson

Further to the northwest, Stratford has enjoyed continued district success with the promotion of Canadian to 3A, entering 2017 as the defending district champions. The Wildcats did however return to spoil their chances at an undefeated regular season in week three, but Stratford has played dominant football otherwise.

Canadian was just one cog in the Elks non-district machine, creating a battle-tested team in time for district play. Other notable opponents included 4A Borger, and a bout with Guymon (OK), a 5A program in the Oklahoma panhandle.

“We wanted to get real quality opponents,” said head coach Matt Lovorn. “We have to be extra prepared for district. The kids were ready to start the season and did really well against River Road. Canadian shows our weaknesses for sure, and I thought we bounced back well from that.”

The Stratford offense has scored an average of 43 points per game, led by quarterback Kade McBryde; the senior signal caller has racked up 635 yards and eight touchdowns on 39 completions in 2017. He’s joined in the backfield by Shay Hess, who has torched opposing defenses on the ground with 442 yards and 11 touchdowns.

“Running out of double-tight, three-back sets, Hess is our go to guy,” said Lovorn. “We also have to control the line of scrimmage, and our line is doing a good job of that.”

The Elks defense has been equally potent, allowing an average of 12.3 points in their six wins, with a pair of shutouts.

“The guys up front have been doing well so far,” said the coach. “Those guys control the line really well. Our secondary has covered very well also.”

Stratford opened district play last week with a 52-0 shutout over Sunray, a contest in which the Elks dominated play early and didn’t relent, according to Lovorn.

Stratford prevailed in a close contest against Panhandle last night, topping the Panthers 35-31.

“They have a lot of speed,” said the coach before the contest. “We’ll have our hands full trying to cover some of the athletes they have.”

The Elks face S-F and WT back to back beginning next week at home against the Eagles, and on the road in Stinnett to battle the Comanches.

Lovorn on Sanford-Fritch: Fritch is playing really well right now. They have a tough defense, so they’ll be a formidable opponent.

Lovorn on West Texas: WT is full of talent. They have a quarterback who can throw the ball really well. I think they’ll be just as tough as Panhandle.

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