Living Up To Their Promise: Picked to finish second in their district, the Trojans are gunning for the playoffs

By JOSEPH ELERSON | News-Telegram Sports Writer

Aug. 30, 2007 - CUMBY - The Cumby Trojans hope their prediction in Dave Campbell's Texas Football Magazine will not come down to the final game of the season for the second straight year.

Last year, the Trojans were sitting in second place heading into the final week of the season, but lost out on a playoff chance due to the points system put in place as their district tie-breaker.

This year, the Trojans are picked to finish in second place behind the Quinlan Boles Hornets, and head coach Kent Hawthorne said it came as a surprise when the magazine was released.

"It kind of surprised me with the prediction. We actually got second last year but we ended up in the three-way tie for second and didn't get to go to the playoffs. We lost by a certain amount of points and that is how our system is and I don't have a problem with that," he said.

"I would like to get picked and be able to live up to it every year. The game is played on the field and anything can happen. The kids are fired up about playing Boles or whatever and that is the last game of the year and anything can happen between now and then. We need to take this one game at a time and take care of Alba-Golden first and then get ready for Rockwall Christian and move on from there."

He said last year's 4-6 finish was tough for the team because three of their games went down to the last play, but this year the players want to return to the playoffs.

"When you start five freshman both ways like we had to last year and still finish second and have success like we did and lose three games by a total of four points, it is not a bad thing," he said. "It gives you confidence coming in to build on this year and we are going to hope for the best this year. We want to be able to better our record from last year and have a chance to make the playoffs."

With only 36 athletes on the team and five of them being seniors, Cumby will have some youth on the field, but the team makes up for it with their work ethic, according to Hawthorne.

"Right now, these kids are working hard to get better," the coach said. "We are still young with only five seniors on the team this year and I am thinking we will make some mistakes and do some things.

"They are going to play hard and be aggressive and with excitement and we hope we can fix all of the little mistakes that they make this year. I think we will be all right and we make it through all of this with not a lot of injuries. We hope to work hard and do some good things this year."

The Trojans return sophomore quarterback Brixx Hawthorne, the son of Coach Hawthorne, after a freshman season of 594 yards rushing with seven touchdowns, 812 yards passing with 12 touchdowns and a punting average of 47.8 yards per punt.

Hawthorne said the team will use Hawthorne more in the offensive scheme but he will not be the only player teams need to pay attention to this season.

"We got kids that know their roles on this team and they are playing their responsibilities. We are not going to rely on one kid and if something happens we got kid that can come in and help out," he explained. "They are buying into what we are doing and that is where you have to start with this team. If they are buying into us as coaches and we are buying into them as players, lot's of good things can happen."

The District 17-A will once again be a slugfest as Quinlan Boles is picked as the favorite, followed by Cumby, Wolfe City, Celeste, Fruitvale and Dallas A+ Academy.

Coach Todd Wallace's Boles Hornets return quarterback Daniel Sanchez, fullback Robert Liebel and junior running back Joe Gilliard - who ran for 1,287 yards and 21 touchdowns last year. The defensive unit is strong with Liebel, Kelly Dodson and Sanchez.

"Quinlan Boles is very good this year. They did not lose anything, they are well coached and have some good athletes," Hawthorne said. "I even picked Boles to win the district this year. I think they are the best team, we are the second-best team and Wolfe City and Celeste will battle it out for the third-place team."

At Wolfe City, the Wolves were hit hard with graduation as 15 seniors left an 11-1 regional finalist team under the direction of coach Dale Trompler, who is now at Greenville as an assistant coach. Assistant coach Todd Palmer takes over the team this year and brings in running back James King and wide receiver Emmanuel Akers.

He said another team that could raise some eyes will be Celeste as coach Mike Lipsey returns 16 letterman from an area finalist team last year. Junior quarterback Justin Wright, running back Fritz Vale and wide receivers Trevor Trentham will be the offensive leaders.

With the season opener Friday night at Trojan Field, Cumby looks to avenge a 13-7 loss to the Alba-Golden Panthers last year and Hawthorne said this will be a good test for his team. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

"Alba did not beat us last year. We have 16 penalties for 185 yards and they are going to be better this year," the coach said. "They have a great runningback (Ryan Young) and a great quarterback (Austin Frye) and it is going to be a battle. Our kids are looking forward to the game and I think that game will be won on who makes the least mistakes."

2007 Schedule

Date Opponent

Aug. 31 Alba-Golden

Sept. 8 Rockwall Christian

Sept. 14 at Detroit

Sept. 21 at Simms Bowie

Sept. 28 Maud

Oct. 5 Open

Oct. 12 at A+ ACADEMY

Oct. 19 CELESTE

Oct. 26 at FRUITVALE

Nov. 2 at WOLFE CITY

Nov. 9 QUINLAN BOLES

District 17-A games are in ALL CAPS

Coach: Kent Hawthorne

2006 Record: 4-6 overall, 3-2 in district

Notes: The Trojans have a bitter taste in their mouths after missing out on the playoffs due to the tiebreaking point spread last year. ... Hawthorne's team returns 18 lettermen. ... Boles is picked as the favorite to win the district this year and is ranked No. 14 in the State Farm/Texas Football 1A Top 25 poll. ... Quarterback Brixx Hawthorne will have another busy year for the Trojans after a strong freshman year. ... He finished with 103 carries for 594 yards and seven touchdowns rushing, went 61-of-145 with 12 TDs and 11 interceptions with 812 yards passing. He also had a 47.8 yards per punt average last year. ... The Trojans have five seniors on the team in Kris Stanford, Nathan Dunnihoo, Jake Vann, Brian Clem, Petter Hassel and Michael Cross. ... Cumby is listed as the smallest school in District 17-A with 111 students.

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