RUSK — Rusk's mission to defend its District 7-4A-II title begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday when the Red and Black are scheduled to face Bullard at Panther Stadium.
Rusk's record is the same (0-6) as it was this time last year, but don't let that fool you, as the Eagles seem to play their best football when there is a lot on the line.
“We've been working on correcting our mistakes and playing good fundamental football over the past couple of weeks,” Rusk head football coach Jowell Hancock said. “The way we look at it when Friday night rolls around we will be 0-0. It is not how you start, but how you finish.”
Bullard (2-4, 1-0), who can most likely clinch a playoff berth in the five-team district with a win over the Eagles, was able to successfully open its district campaign last week by going to Wills Point and toppling the Tigers, 21-16.
Panther quarterback Tristen Shewmake is the Panther's chief threat on offense.
Last week Shewmake ran for two of his team's touchdowns. He racked up 140 yards rushing and passed for 74 yards.
Shewmake, a senior, accounted for 214 of Bullard's 327 total yards.
“He's a playmaker and he is someone that we will have to try to stop,” Hancock said. “You always want to put the ball in the hand of your best player and that is what Bullard does. He's a difference maker for sure.”
The duel threat signal caller rushed for two of his club's three touchdowns in the win over Wills Point.
The Panthers, who will also be celebrating homecoming on Friday, would certainly like to nail down a district title this season and they are one step closer to that goal after last week's triumph.
Bullard has not won a district championship since 1993.