Chilton coach Chris James got a good laugh on Saturday morning when I asked him if he thought the Mart Panthers were starting to look over their shoulders at his Pirates.
“Mart is so good that I’m pretty sure they’re just focused on their own business,” James said with the chuckle still in his voice.
I’ll tell you this, though, Chilton is making enough noise to get Mart’s attention. On Friday night, the Pirates (3-0) defeated Normangee, the No. 10 ranked squad in Class 2A Division I, 37-0.
The Panthers, who have been to the state championship game for four years running and currently hold the No. 1 ranking in 2A DII, haven’t had much problem getting through their district with a clean slate. In 2020, Mart won four district games by a combined score of 268-6, including a 50-0 waxing of Chilton.
Clearly, Mart is still a huge favorite to win District 10-2A DII. Since this Sunday column is a place for bold predictions, I’ll go so far as to say that the mighty Panthers would be a district title contender even two classifications up in 4A.
And yet, there just might be some intrigue when Mart gets to its loop.
Chilton has been making progress for a few seasons now and it appears to have taken another big step forward. Last week, I wrote here that the Pirates had the “Wow!” win of the week when they nipped Italy, 28-27. That was significant because the Gladiators rocked Chilton, 46-0, a year ago. The Pirates’ win over Normangee was the same song, next verse. Normangee rolled over Chilton, 48-21, last fall and went on to an 11-1 season.
James said he had confidence his team could win on Friday night, but he admitted the final score was a bit of a surprise. He said the ball bounced his team’s way and the Chilton players took advantage of those bounces.
Pirates QB Daylon Ford produced 148 yards of total offense and threw a couple of touchdown passes. RB Braylen Fisher rushed for 157 yards and two TDs. Alternate QB/utility player McKeller Cook contributed 104 yards of total offense. The Pirates can get it done in a lot of ways and they swarm to the ball on defense.
Chilton, which I fully expect to see in the Dave Campbell’s Texas Football rankings this week, will get its shot at Mart on Oct. 8.
But they’re not the only team in the district that figures to give the Panthers more of a run this time around. Hubbard improved to 3-0 by beating Moody in a close game on Friday night. And Wortham has won two of its first three.
Alright, alright, I’m not saying top-ranked Mart should be getting too nervous. But you can put me down for a trip to the Panthers’ fancy new digs in early October.
Here are some other recaps of games that came in late on Friday night:
Temple 60, Hutto 53: In Temple, the Daily Telegram’s Josh Weaver reported that the Wildcats led by as many as 31 points before holding off Hutto in the fourth quarter.
However, the final score was closer than the contest. The Hippos’ rally included a touchdown in the final 20 seconds, followed by an onside kick recovery and another last-second touchdown to close the gap from 20 to seven.
Temple (1-2) gets in the win column ahead of its district opener at Bryan on Sept. 24.
Hubbard 44, Moody 38: In Hubbard, Jaguars QB Kendan Johnson and his Moody counterpart, Ryder Hohhertz, engaged in a dual-threat battle.
Johnson rushed for 265 yards and passed for 63. His five touchdown passes ultimately proved enough for Hubbard (3-0).
Hohhertz passed for 273 yards and rushed for 161, accounting for six touchdowns.
Hubbard RB Shelby Noppeney was the difference as he rushed for 146 yards and reached the end zone twice in a winning effort.
Hillsboro 33, Bridgeport 10: In Hillsboro, Francisco Montoya, DeAundre Sanders and Jacob Figueroa all rushed for more than 100 yards to help the Eagles climb to 2-1 this season.
Montoya led the prolific rushing trio with 159 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Sanders also scored twice.
Hillsboro established a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. After Bridgeport closed the gap through the middle of the game, the Eagles finished by scoring 13 unanswered in the fourth quarter.
Hillsboro hosts Gatesville next week.
Marlin 34, Valley Mills 29: In Valley Mills, Marlin established a two-touchdown lead at halftime and held off a Valley Mills rally in the fourth quarter to win for the second straight week.
Bulldogs running back Trajon Butler gained more than 15 yards per carry and scored three times, while QB Desmond Woodson passed for 264 yards and another touchdown to fuel the Marlin offense.
The Bulldogs upped their record to 2-1 going into a steep challenge against Lexington next week.
Valley Mills QB Elandis Taylor passed for 222 yards and 3 TDs, but it wasn’t quite enough as the Eagles dropped to 1-2. Valley Mills hosts Hubbard on Friday.
Wortham 42, Dawson 30: In Dawson, Wortham RB Tanner Bean rushed for 194 yards and a couple of touchdowns to lead his team to a win in a battle of Bulldogs
Wortham DE Anthony Fortoul disrupted the Dawson offense with 14 tackles, including five stops for losses.
Wortham (2-1) opened the season with a win over Itasca and has now bounced back from a defeat at Rosebud Lott. The Bulldogs travel to Cayuga next week.
Dawson (0-3) hosts Bremond on Friday.
Vanguard 84, Austin Hill Country 38: In Cedar Park, Vikings quarterback Walker Nall set school records with 27 completions for 561 passing yards and 11 TDs as Vanguard flew past Hill Country.