Now Or Never: Eagles in must-win situation against Alba-Golden

By JOSEPH ELERSON | News-Telegram Sports Writer

Nov. 2, 2007 - COMO - With their playoff hopes on the line, the Como-Pickton Eagles head into tonight's district contest in a must-win situation against the Alba-Golden Panthers.

With both teams sitting two games back of third place in the standings, the Eagles (3-5, 0-3) travel to Alba (2-6, 0-3) for Senior Night festivities. Kickoff is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.

"If we don't win this week, then we don't have any chance at the playoffs," Como-Pickton first-year coach Paul Tullis said. "We win the next two weeks and then we will have to wait and see what Alba-Golden does against Hawkins next week. We need to go out there and take care of this week.

"The district run has come out pretty much like I thought it would. I am a little disappointed with our game against Hawkins still and I know Quitman and Winnsboro would be tough games. We will have to see how these last two weeks play out."

The Eagles could wrap up the season in a three-way tie with Grand Saline (2-1) if the Indians lose both games and Hawkins (1-2) splits its final two games. If that scenario happens, Hawkins would make the playoffs due to the points tiebreaker.

Heading into this week's action, CPHS is currently a minus-15, Hawkins is a plus-14, and Grand Saline is a plus-1. Even if CP wins by the district maximum, then the Eagles would finish the year at a plus-13 in points, which would still give Hawkins the playoff spot.

The Eagles are in the playoffs with the following scenario: They must win both games, while Grand Saline and Hawkins lose both games as CPHS will hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Indians for third place.

Reaching this goal will be no easy test for the Eagles as Alba-Golden has one of the top 100 junior running backs in the state, according to Dave Campbell's Texas Football Magazine in Ryan Young (5-10, 180 poundsm, 4.4 in the 40).

"I think with him (Young) you got to get out there and play team defense. You have to try to not let him beat you and he is going to get his yards," Tullis said. "We need to hold him down and keep him from breaking out and scoring every time he gets the ball.

"He is going to score a couple of touchdowns and we will need to make sure that we can keep up with them. On offense, we will have to try and make some plays to score."

Alba-Golden has offensive weapons in quarterback Austin Frye, the son of head coach Paul Frye, tight end Billy Hill and sophomore tailback Matt George. Frye threw for 12 touchdowns and only four interceptions last year, while Hill had 34 catches for 402 yards and one touchdown.

The Eagles will once again use a strong running game against a Panthers defense that allows 35 points per game this season. Running backs James Carter, Mitch Lowe and Spencer Boyd have combined for 1,097 yards and nine touchdowns for the Eagles.

"We will go in there and run our offense like we usually do," the coach said. "Last week, we passed the ball because Winnsboro was giving us the pass. If they give us the pass this week then we will throw it, and if they give us the run then we will run it."

Quarterback Austin Darby comes into the game following his best outing of the year last week as the sophomore completed 10-of-18 passes for 127 yards against Winnsboro. He is 26-of-51 for 374 yards, one touchdown and seven interceptions this year.

In other key district games, Quitman (7-1, 3-0) travels to Grand Saline (3-5, 2-1), while Winnsboro (7-1, 3-0) hosts the Hawkins Hawks (2-6, 1-2). Kickoff for both games is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

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