LBJ Austin (9-2)
A season that began in the uncertainty of a pandemic has now come down to this: the Lindale High School Eagles are one win away from playing for the Class 4A Division I state title.
Or as Head Coach Chris Cochran said: “We have a chance to play for the big show’’ at AT&T Stadium in Arlington on Dec. 18.
They are one of four teams left in Texas after subduing the Kilgore Bulldogs this past Friday in Nacogdoches, 56-42, to earn a berth in the state semifinals against LBJ Austin, which defeated Corpus Christi Miller, 59-54.
Lindale travels to Humble’s Turner Stadium for the Friday match against the Jaguars. The game will kick off at 7:30 p.m.
It’s been quite a ride for the Eagles, who have now won 10 games in a row, which included rematches with District 9-4A foes Chapel Hill and Kilgore. Lindale is 12-2 on the season.
With each week’s win, the 2020 team sets a new standard. Up until two weeks ago, no Lindale team had advanced past the Area playoff round.
Beating two district opponents in the span of two weeks is a point of pride, Cochran believes.
“I think when we look back on this season one thing we’ll remember for sure is how we beat two district teams twice,’’ he said. “And two of those came in the playoffs.’’
The Eagles smashed Chapel Hill 52-6 on Oct. 2 and won the District 9-4A title with a 47-40 victory in Kilgore on Nov. 6.
“This is something that (the players) have dreamed about their whole lives,’’ Cochran said about this extended run. “It’s a great opportunity for us, and especially for our kids.’’
The coach is also pleased with how his club is maintaining its focus.
“Our players have been very businesslike this whole season,’’ he
said. “They love the game and they love their teammates.’’
From the first game against Kaufman in August, Cochran and his staff have stressed not to look too far ahead.
“We have told them all year we want to be 1-0 each Monday,’’ he said.
As one might expect, a team that has also reached the state semis will present a challenge. LBJ Austin certainly fits this description, Cochran said.
“They’ve got speed all over the field and they are very athletic,’’
he said. “Obviously, if you are in the state semifinals, you are a dang good football team.’’
LBJ Austin is 9-2 on the season with one of those losses coming on opening week, 17-10, to Cornerstone Christian out of San Antonio. The only other loss came three weeks later to eventual District 13-4A champion Lampasas.
The Jaguars are averaging more than 39 points per game and in four playoff games – against Pleasanton, Alice, Corpus Christi Calallen and Corpus Christi Miller – they are scoring at a 57 point-per-game clip.