The Jacksonville-Palestine series really needs no bells and whistles to accentuate itself in the eyes of rabid Indian and Wildcat loyalists, but when the two geographical rivals tee it up at 7 p.m. tonight at Wildcat Stadium, the added dimension of playing on live television should hang heavy in the early fall air.
KTXA-21, Dallas-Fort Worth has selected the game as a part of its Thursday night high school football coverage. Tonight will mark the 77th meeting between the two schools that first played in 1913 — the Wildcats lead the series 37-36-3, after wining 37-20 at Tomato Bowl last season.
Jacksonville and Palestine opened their respective seasons last week with different results as the Tribe fell, 42-28, to No.1-ranked Carthage (Class 3A), while the Wildcats rallied by scoring 18 points in the final period to knock off Waco LaVega, 26-12, in Waco.
As he shared a little bit of coaching wisdom earlier this week, Indians defensive coordinator Mike Waldie said that he only hopes his team will be able to follow the formula that he alluded to.
“There's an old coaching cliché that a team makes it most improvement between the first game and the second game,” Waldie said. “We're having to try to do that after having a holiday (Labor Day) on Monday and a short week with the game (tonight); but I still hope that we can make that improvement.”
From the defensive perspective, Waldie said stopping the Wildcats boils down to one thing — putting the breaks on Palestine running back Ben Luckett (6-0, 195).
Luckett carried 24 times for 133 yards and scored two touchdowns in the 'Cats' win a week ago.
If he goes off like that tonight, Tribe fans could be exiting Wildcats Stadium with a frown on their faces says Waldie.
“I feel their best player is at running back (Luckett),” Waldie said. “If we can't contain him nothing else will matter. If we can contain him we will have a chance to win.