It’s not the world’s biggest shock that Abilene Wylie is winning games, they’re talented, with tough, hard-nosed players like Dion Novil, Cason Grant, Brooks Pepper, and Kade Parmelly. Head Coach Hugh Sandifer is a playoff veteran, he’s been in deep playoff situations before. I think the biggest surprise is how they’re winning.
Two weeks ago, Wylie took on Argyle, and held an offense averaging 44.5 points per game to a paltry 14 points in a 35-14 win. Some viewed this as an anomaly, a product of Argyle not being prepared and Wylie jumping up and surprising them. After all, Wylie had blazed through a relatively easy district and had lost to one of the only solid teams on their schedule, Lubbock Monterey.
Last week, Wylie was set up for a showdown with Levelland and Nick Gerber, who has broken nearly every single passing record that the UIL keeps. Gerber threw for a whopping 77 touchdowns this year to go with 5,617 yards in his 2016 campaign, but not even the all-time state record holder for touchdowns and passing yards in a single season could find a crack in the Wylie D.
Gatlin Martin picked off Gerber three times, and Wylie rolled to a 49-14 victory. Levelland couldn’t find the end zone until the 4th quarter, at which point Wylie was already up 49-0. Once again, when the Bulldogs were told that they couldn’t do it, that they were up against another animal entirely, they pulled it off.
Once again, it’s not merely that they’re winning these games, it’s how. They’re not just squeaking by these top teams and top offenses. They’re taking them out behind the woodshed and beating them with a baseball bat.
Kennedale isn’t perfect by any means. They just win. You can’t count them out, ever, as evidenced by their most recent game, where they came back to stay alive despite being down 14 at halftime. Also, we can’t forget about Baron Browning, who is an absolute force of nature, and a recent Ohio State commit.
The Wildcats have many excellent players, names such as D.J. Kirven, Andrew Flanagan, and Gjemar Daniels, but it’s really hard not to just talk about Baron Browning when you talk about Kennedale. This isn’t hyperbole to prop up a team’s best player, he’s simply that good. He played cornerback against Van, and would’ve had a pick-six if not for a clipping penalty. This isn’t to say that Kennedale is dependent on him, or that he’s their only good player, he’s just so explosive that he dominates the conversation surrounding a great team.
With three losses to Alvarado and Whitehouse, along with a completely understandable loss to West Orange-Stark, Kennedale has a bit of a misnomer on their record. They’re playing much better than a three loss team right now, and are looking to carry that momentum on into the state title games.
The keys in this matchup will be all defensively oriented. Abilene Wylie will need to shut down the potent Kennedale rushing attack and control the line of scrimmage, and Kennedale will need to get their big defensive line going and get Browning around the ball as much as possible. It’ll be a game decided by who can force the other team into more of a one-dimensional game, as both of these defenses thrive when they can zero in on one element of the game and attack it.
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