Jacksonville Daily Progress
Football teams from Jacksonville and Henderson, who are scheduled to do oppose one another at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Lions Stadium in Henderson, have much more in common than their identical 0-3 records.
First, neither program is used to staring off so slow — the Lions have not opened up by losing their first three games since 2008 and the Indians last lost the first three in 2011, Steve Wells' final season at the helm of the Tribe program.
Simply stated, the reason each team is winless at this point is basically the same — each have a plethora of young and/or inexperienced players that are having to cut their respective Friday night teeth on the run, in trial-by-fire manner.
To further illustrate the point, both the Indians and the Lions have struggled greatly on defense all season.
Jacksonville, who starts seven sophomores and two freshmen on the defensive side, have been giving up an average of 53.6 points a game, while the Lion “D' has been permitting opponents to pile up nearly 39 points an outing.
Both clubs have played extremely brutal schedules up until this week.
Henderson opened the year with a road loss to TAPPS power Plano-Prestonwood Christian (45-22) and then followed that up by being beaten at home by Nacogdoches (35-14), a team that many consider to be the most improved Class 4A unit in East Texas this year. Henderson led the Dragons with about a minute to go in the first half in that game.
Last week the Lions led 10-7 at halftime at Hallsville only to allow the Bobcats to rally in the final two quarters to eventually prevail, 35-22.
One would be hard pressed to find three opponents at the Class 4A-3A level any more salty than the Carthage-Palestine-Gilmer trifecta that have each taken the Injuns to the proverbial woodshed in each of the past three weeks.
Carthage is ranked No. 1 in the latest Class 3A poll, with Gilmer at No. 2 and Palestine making a strong bid to join Class 3A's best with a 3-0 record.
Jacksonville and Henderson will enter play Friday having a handful of injuries, mostly affecting offensive players, that could have each offensive unit playing at less than full strength.
Often when a game pits evenly matched teams against each other the end result comes down to coaching, and such could be the case in this one.
The tell of the tape could be revealed by how well the team that trails at halftime responds in the third quarter.
Jacksonville coach Chris Taber and Henderson mentor Phil Castles have only a brief history of coaching against each other — Castle's Corsicana club got by the Indians 35-25 on Nov. 9, 2012 in a District 16-4A contest.
Interesting enough, when Castles departed from Chapel Hill following the 2008 season, it was then offensive coordinator Taber, who came in at Chapel Hill as a member of head coach Thomas Sitton's staff.
Jacksonville will close out the non-district portion of its docket with another road game next week when the Tribe travel to Marshall.