The Athens Review
The Malakoff Tigers understand the motto, “Win or Go Home” heading into the area round contest against Van Alstyne Friday night.
Fifth-year head coach Jamie Driskell has guided the Tigers to a 44-13 record in his Malakoff tenure.
He has a chance to guide his Tigers’ past the area round for the first time in school history and the first 11-win season in school history Friday night.
The team that stands in the way of the Tigers achieving those goals is the Van Alstyne Panthers (7-4).
The Panthers come into the area round following a 35-8 win over Boyd last weekend. Van Alstyne bounced back from a 1-9 record last season.
Three of Van Alstyne’s four losses have come against teams that are still in the Class 2A playoffs.
The Tigers are favored by 14 points in the latest poll by the Harris Ratings System — released weekly in the Athens Review.
Kickoff for the contest is set for 7:30 p.m. at Mesquite’s E.H. Hanby Stadium.
“They (Van Alstyne) are huge and by far the best offensive line that we have seen,” Driskell said. “I think we have them on speed but they are physical kids. We will have to play in the trenches and be tough inside.”
One of the kids that concerns Driskell is a Dave Campbell’s magazine Super Team lineman in 6-4, 315-pound center Connor Mayes. He has already been accepted to play in the Army All-American Bowl this January.
“He (Mayes) is not the only issue. The center, right tackle and guard are really good,” Driskell said. “We are going to have to stay low and play our gaps and hopefully things will work out.”
In Friday’s night 41-14 win over Queen City, the Tigers erupted for a fast start as they scored 21 points on five plays from scrimmage.
Queen City was able to get two touchdowns to make the game tight at the intermission.
“We made a few adjustments defensively at the half,” Driskell said. “We have been able to shut people down in the second half and then we got some momentum and scored early in the second half.”
The Tigers are on pace to add to its record breaking scoring offense as they are 30 points away from 600 points for the season.
The old school record was set in 1990 when the Tigers scored 440 points in 12 games.
Driskell said the key to the team’s success is capitalizing on defensive mistakes.
“We will take what the defense gives us and give the ball to our best players and see what happens.”
Those weapons are the running back tandem of Damontes Dowell and Marcus Dowell, quarterback Deric Greenhaw and receivers Jared Givens, Terrance Scott and Braylon Cable.
Greenhaw has taken over the starting role in place of junior signal caller Stephan Wolfe — and Driskell said Greenhaw has performed well under pressure.
“He has taken it upon himself and us as a staff is trying to find out what he is good at on the field,” Driskell said. “His teammates have rallied around him and believe in him. We will go with him and see what happens.”
Direction’s to Hanby Stadium, 410 East Davis Street: From Highway 175, head 48 miles, merge onto I-20E towards I-635N. Take exit 480, go 2.7 miles to the Lake June Road exit, follow South Belt Line Road. South Belt Line Road becomes S Bryan Belt Line Road. After 0.7 miles turn right on E. Davis Street.
Notes: Malakoff will be the home team on the scoreboard Friday night. ... KCKL 95.9 FM will be broadcasting the game if you are unable to make the trip to Mesquite. ... Tickets are $6 for adults and $4 for students at the gate.