Scribes and broadcasters can use as many words as they desire to analyze Jacksonville's District 16-4A match up against Lindale's Eagles (7:30 p.m. Friday, Tomato Bowl), but Indian coach Chris Taber said it best earlier this week by using a scant four words — “Win and we're in.”
The Tribe (3-5, 1-2 District 16-4A) will be playing in their final home game of the year — the regular season draws to a close next week in Corsicana — and if they are victorious on Friday, no ifs, buts or maybes, the Jacksonville Indians will have punched their ticket into the upcoming Class 4A, Division II state playoffs.
“We've talked all along about how we needed two district wins to be able to get into the playoffs and that's been our mind set, to get that second one this week at home,” Taber said. “We've beaten Nacogdoches and if we can beat Lindale were in, and if we (then) beat Corsicana next week, we will finish third in district.”
Friday is Senior Night, with the Tribe's 27 seniors scheduled to be recognized in on-field ceremonies that will begin shortly before 7 p.m.
“Senior Night is always a big night, so there should be plenty of motivation for us to go out and play well and win the game,” Taber said. “I think every one of seniors wants to have that memory to take with them of winning their last game at the Tomato Bowl.”
Lindale will bring a 1-7, 0-3 slated into Friday's game.
Lindale opened the season on a positive note by dismantling Chapel Hill, 31-14.
Since that time it has been nothing but grim news coming out of Eagle Country as a rash of injuries to several key players has hurt Lindale tremendously.
Lindale has been getting beat by an average score of 34-20 this year, but Taber said those numbers are not indicative of the quality of the Eagle team.
“This Lindale team is like all the other Lindale teams, very competitive,” he said. “You look at some of their losses and they have been in the game early. They are well coached and if we let them hang around, we'll have a real dog fight on our hands.”
Taber said the Tribe defense will have to stop Eagle running back Trey Acy on Friday.
Acy carried 32 times for 108 yards in last week's 40-22 loss to Corsicana.
In that game Lindale picked up 32 first downs to Corsicana's 19, with Eagle quarterback Cody Slice having thrown for 165 yards (15-19-0, 2 TDs).
“We have to limit the big plays and try to keep our defense off of the field as much as we can,” Taber said.
With the Eagles facing the Tribe this week and closing out the regular season next week against conference cellar-dweller Nacogdoches, the message Eagle head coach Mike Meador has been preaching has been much like Taber's.
In an Oct. 17 interview with the Longview News-Journal, Meador stated that many of the youngsters who have been called on to step up to replace the injured have been gaining valuable experience and that they should be in good shape by the time the playoffs roll around; so despite being thin in ranks, Lindale has not thrown in the towel and knows with wins in its final-two district games would mean a playoff spot.
“Our fate is in our hands now and if we go out and play up to our capability we'll be fine,” Taber said.
NOTE: Lindale scored nine points last week on three Luc Swimberghe fields goals covering 24, 42, and 27 yards, respectively... Corsicana led 40-6 last week, before the Eagles scored the final 16 points in the contest...Jacksonville and Lindale have met just four times with the Tribe having won three of those meetings...The Eagles defeated the Tribe, 28-17 in 2009, the last time these two engaged one another.