No. 3 TVCC is set to take on No. 14 Blinn Saturday night

By Michael V. Hannigan/HCN

This is what it means to play in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference: a third straight week against a nationally ranked opponent.

No. 3-ranked Trinity Valley Community College (3-0, 2-0) will travel to Brenham Saturday night to take on the No. 14 Blinn Buccaneers (2-0, 2-0).

“I expect it to be another great game,” said TVCC Coach Brad Smiley. “I tell our kids every week, ‘Hey all you freshmen, every week’s a game.'”

Saturday night will match two teams that are leaning on their defenses early in the season.

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Athens gets ready for first road trip, Red Oak

(Podcast: Listen to Coach Essary talk about last week’s loss to Fairfield and the upcoming game against Red Oak above.)

By Michael V. Hannigan/HCN

The Athens Hornets will hit the road for the first time this season, traveling to Red Oak to take on the Hawks Friday night.

Both teams are 1-1 to start the season.

The Hawks will provide a good challenge for the Hornets.

“Red Oak is a good football team; well coached,” said Athens Head Coach Paul Essary.

Essary said Red Oak will be the biggest team the Hornets have seen so far this season.

“The play hard and the execute well,” Essary said.

The Hawks like to run the ball and stopping that will be a key for the Hornets.

“We’re going to have to be physical on the defensive side,” Essary said. “On the offensive side we’re going to have to stay on our blocks and execute. We’re going to have to start catching the football a little bit better, and we’re working on that.”

The Hawks are a Class 5A school, so they have a bigger student population, but that doesn’t worry Athens.

“They’re going to dress out 50 to 60 players on the sideline. They’re twice the size school we are,” said Essary. “But that’s OK, you only put 11 out on the field at a time. It doesn’t matter how many are on the sideline.”

“We’re going to line up and get after it,” he said.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday in Red Oak.

No. 4 TVCC set to host No. 11 NEO Saturday night

(Listen to our podcast with Coach Smiley above.)

By Michael V. Hannigan/HCN

When the No. 4-ranked Trinity Valley Community College Cardinals (2-0, 1-0) kick off against Northeastern Oklahoma A&M Saturday evening, it will be almost one year to the day since the Cardinals last lost a game.

To the same NEO Golden Norsemen (1-0, 1-0).

“Obviously we didn’t play well in that game,” said TVCC Coach Brad Smiley about the 30-29 loss, the Cardinals only loss of 2016. “That was our worst game of the year.”

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Malakoff gets ready for speed as Rusk set to visit

Coach Jamie Driskell talks to his team during the preseason. (Michael V. Hannigan photo)

(Listen to our podcast with Coach Jamie Driskell above.)

By Michael V. Hannigan/HCN

The Malakoff Tigers (1-0) stumbled a couple of times last week on the way to beating Bullard, 48-34, on the road. The Tigers will have to be better this week if they want another win when they play their home opener against Rusk.

Rusk (1-0) torched Center 48-21 to open its season last week.

The Eagles had two players combined for more than 370 yards rushing in their opener.

“The quarterback can really run,” said Malakoff Coach Jamie Driskell, “he’s just a really good athlete. And their running back can really run. They’ve got some speed on the outside with their receivers. We’ve got a challenge ahead of us and it’s a good challenge.”

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Athens Hornets prepare to host Fairfield for Civil Service Night

(Listen to the podcast with Coach Paul Essary above.)

By Michael V. Hannigan/HCN

Friday night, the Athens Hornets will be looking to beat Fairfield for back-to-back home victories to start the season. Last week, the Hornets outlasted Mexia, 6-0, to open the new Bruce Field.

Fairfield lost their opener to No. 5 La Vega, 46-7, but Athens Coach Paul Essary said fans shouldn’t read too much into that score.

“I looked at (La Vega) on film,” he said. “If there’s anybody any better than them, I don’t want to play them because they’re pretty salty. La Vega is a good football team.”

Fairfield’s quarterback, Kameron Ransom, is the focus of the Eagle offense. Against La Vega he ran 29 times for 95 yards and threw for another 36.

“He’s a very explosive runner and he can throw the football well,” said Essary. “He’s the guy that makes their offense go.”

As for the Hornets, Essary said his team is trying to improve every day.

“We’re practicing the little things,” he said. “The little thing are what really make you click.”

Friday night is Civic Service Night at Bruce Field. Police, firefighters, EMTs, first responders and military personnel in uniform will be admitted free.

“They put their lives on the line every day for us,” said Essary, “and Athens ISD, Athens Hornets football and Coach Paul Essary appreciates what they do. My hat is off to them.”

Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

(Follow Michael V. Hannigan on Twitter/Instagram @mvhannigan)