Eagles take winning record into district opener

By JOSEPH ELERSON | News-Telegram Sports Writer

Oct. 12, 2007 - COMO - After wrapping up the pre-district schedule with a 3-2 record, the Como-Pickton Eagles head into the District 16-2A opener ready for a battle with the Hawkins Hawks.

The Eagles will host the Hawks at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Ron Heflin Field. Hawkins won last year's meeting 55-0 in Hawkins.

"I think everybody is coming out really excited starting district play," said Como-Pickton head coach Paul Tullis. "Like I said before, if you don't win the first one than it is pretty tough to get into the playoffs. Hopefully, we can go out there and take care of business against Hawkins."

With the Hawks coming in at 1-4 on the year, coach Keith Cook's team has been outscored 181-64 as the offense has scored an average of 12.8 points per game. The defense has allowed 36.2 points per game.

Offensively, HHS will split quarterback duties between junior Jorden Stephens (35-of-78-433, one TD, three interceptions) and sophomore Ryan Gattis (15-of-31-158, 2 TDs, four interceptions) in their spread formation. Gattis has been used as a dual threat this year at receiver with 12 catches for 125 yards and is the second-leading receiver on the team.

"Hawkins is an explosive team this year," Tullis said. "They run the spread offense and they like to spread everybody out and throw the ball on you. They have that really good running back that was a sophomore last year and we need to contain him. I think No. 1 is we need to be able to take care of the pass, and if we can do that I think we will be all right."

Another player the defense will need to keep contained is junior running back Corey Stevenson, with 51 carries for 440 yards and one touchdown this season. Stevenson is the only player with over 100 yards rushing for the Hawks.

The Eagles will once again counter with sophomore tailback James Carter, who suffered a turf toe injury last week against Blue Ridge, junior tailback Spencer Boyd and senior fullback Mitch Lowe. Sophomore Brandt Steele is still recovering from a dislocated shoulder suffered against Quinlan Boles.

Carter has 93 carries for 589 yards (6.3 yards per carry) and four touchdowns, while Lowe has 22 carries for 154 yards and two touchdowns.

With a win tonight, the Eagles will give themselves some momentum heading into their next two weeks of football at Quitman and hosting Winnsboro, as both teams finished non-district play at 4-1.

"It is the most important one to win the first game, and if you don't win the first one you got a tough road to get to the playoffs," Tullis said.

Around the district, Quitman will travel to Alba-Golden (2-3), while Grand Saline (1-4) hosts Winnsboro. Both games are scheduled to kickoff at 7:30 p.m.

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