The final regular season test for the Trinity Valley Community College Cardinals has them out on the road Saturday.
The Cardinals (5-3 overall, 3-3 in conference play) travel to Roswell, New Mexico for a battle with the No. 6-ranked New Mexico Military Institute Broncos at 3 p.m. Texas time at the Wool Bowl.
The Broncos are 7-1 overall and 5-1 in SWJCFC play. Their only loss came in a 38-19 defeat at the hands of the Cisco Wranglers Oct. 23.
“We have to go and win this week,” TVCC coach Sherard Poteete said. “NMMI is a very good football team and you start looking back and they are playing really good football. They are a very disciplined team and they have some military things they have to go through before they play football. They are sitting here at 7-1 on the year and the rest of us are fighting it out right now. It will be a fight and that shows the parity of our league.”
NMMI is led by sophomore quarterback Diego Pavia and sophomore running back Anthony Grant, who is the reigning MVP of the conference.
“They are a very good option team and their quarterback runs that system very well,” Poteete said. “He has some explosive runs and then Grant is a very good running back. He got a lot more touches in the spring and now they have more players in that arsenal. He is still the main guy for them.”
For the season, Grant has 867 yards and eight touchdowns, while Pavia is 67-of-134 for 795 yards and nine touchdowns.
Defensively, the Broncos allow 17.8 points per game and only 356.9 yards per contest.
“They are really good and we have to cut out the timely penalties and control the football,” Poteete said. “They are playing really good defense right now.”
They are led by Tre O’Quinn with 46 tackles and two interceptions, while William Middleton has 31 tackles, 1.5 sacks and four tackles for loss.
Trinity Valley will look to bounce back from a three-game losing streak dating back to Oct. 16 in a 21-14 loss to the Blinn Buccaneers.
Poteete said health has been the toughest part of the three-game losing streak following the 5-0 start to the season.
In last week’s 34-19 loss to the Kilgore Rangers, the Cardinals had 366 yards of total offense as Tucker Yarbrough became the fifth or sixth quarterback to take snaps this year. He was 30-of-43 for 378 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions.
“Going through the injuries that we have had this year, we played a quarterback that it was his first snaps of the season,” Poteete said. “He came in and did some really good stuff and had a roller coaster type game. We took the early 7-0 lead and it was a really good game in the first half. We didn’t take care of things and didn’t convert on some fourth downs.”
His top target was Cam Camper with seven receptions for 110 yards and one touchdown. Kordell David had four receptions for 81 yards.
Defensively, the Cardinals were led by Tristian Fletcher and Keith Fountain with 13 tackles each, while Kamaurja Kenney had 11 tackles. Fountain and Kenney each recorded one sack in the loss.
“The explosive plays got us and when we made Kilgore march down the field, they didn’t score,” Poteete said. “The defense had some big red zone stops and held them to some field goals, but the big plays got us.”
Notes: The parentheses are the conference records for the final regular season schedule: Tyler (4-2) at Kilgore (3-3); Cisco (3-3) at Navarro (2-4); Blinn (3-3) at NEO (1-5). … The top four teams in the conference are set to meet in the regional semifinals Nov. 13 with a trip to the Regional Championship game Nov. 20 at a time and site to be determined. For the entire interview, check out the Coaches Corner podcast on our social media pages above this story at www.athensreview.com.