Canadian’s 2016 Opener with Bushland: Escaping the Hype Isn’t an Option

The preseason scrimmages are over and season openers far and wide will have pregame capsules written with the expected fervor Texas high School football season brings. To borrow a popular motto of the Lone Star Gridiron website, “The greatest sport in the greatest State” helps to explain the insanity. Of course, not all Texas high school teams will experience the level of hype others will. The “others” must learn to deal with the hype, because it is inescapable.

Canadian is a prime example of a program that has had such success, they can’t prevent another record looking them square in the face, ready or not. However, most fans or even football junkies might be surprised at the fact that the coaches, the team captains, and the team probably won’t even discuss what everyone else will be writing and talking about. The season opener with Bushland presents a unique opportunity for Texas Panhandle area football history. Canadian is tied with the Wheeler Mustangs with the two longest winning streaks ever in the Panhandle area, an impressive 31 consecutive wins. The Wildcats can own that streak record with a win on the 26th of August. It’s the only game that will allow a change to the record books. One game. One chance. And that’s it. They will either own the new record, or they will continue to share it with Wheeler until another program in the Panhandle comes along and wins 32 or more consecutive games. 

Many casual fans are probably not aware of the drama involved, that is, if you aren’t a die-hard Canadian Wildcat fan. Part of that drama is the motivation the Falcons have to get a win over Canadian and not just to spoil a win streak. The four game series between the two schools is currently 3-0-1 in Canadian’s favor, one game being called for weather on 9/27/2013 before an official score could be recorded. Bushland wants a Wildcat pelt hung in their locker room in the worst way. August 26th will be the third season opener the two have shared in as many years. And how difficult is it for a good team to beat another good team four out of five times? The odds are stacking up against Canadian. 

Falcon’s Head Coach, Jimmy Thomas, in his third year, is certainly taking the win streak issue in stride. He told one reporter that if he had thought about the win streak deal he wouldn’t have scheduled Canadian for the opener. But you would’ve had to have been there, because he was grinning and laughing as he said that. And YES, that means that they will use being the spoiler as motivation – no question about it. The odds, the motivation, and playing at home have the Falcons excited for this year’s opener. 

With that said, Bushland will certainly be bringing it up front with Senior first-team all-district selection Erik Smith with help from Zach Zaccardo and Jaren Alvarado. That experience in the trenches will be much needed against Canadian’s returners who have just come off of two State Championships. Marshal Cates, Tyler Richardson, Center Logan Godino, and a hometown boy that returned before the end of last school year, Tyler Carr. Did we mention that Carr was named OL/DL MVP of the Texas Tech camp this summer? 

Wildcats Head Coach Chris Koetting could hold the advantage with quarterback experience. QB Corbin Douthitt backed up the most efficient QB in the State for two seasons and was there for every practice through two long Championship seasons. That’s ten extra weeks of practice if you’re counting. Not to mention all of the actual game minutes he played with all of the blow-out wins the starters provided in the first half. Douthitt has been prepared for this season since the ride home from Houston last December. There was never any doubt that he would be leading the fast paced NASCAR offense this season. Coach Thomas, on the other hand, was not settled on a starting QB as of a couple of weeks ago. Senior Cameron Thomas and Junior Colton Moore are vying for the job to replace two-year starter Kameron Mathis. 

A bonus for all of the fans on this Friday night will be the run game. As Canadian proved the last two years, they are not a strong spread-it-out pass offense because they have a weak run game. This year brings some new excitement with Junior Chris Jones, a transfer from Childress. And right there ready to take reps with Chris is last year’s Championship Game Defensive MVP Cade Throgmorton. The proven star power, however, will be Falcon Senior RB Bostyn Andrews. Andrews totaled 1,149 rushing yards with six TDs last season. In his third and final year, Andrews is ready to get past one of the best defenses in the State the last two seasons. Wildcat fans will be on pins and needles every time he touches the ball. 

So if you’re making a pick based on what you see on “paper”, wad it up and throw it away. You won’t be able to factor in the emotion, the first game nerves, the momentum shifts, or the big breaks a team can get in the early season. 

Of course there will be the win streak watch. You can blame that on the last two Canadian Wildcat teams setting up all of the fans, sports writers, and broadcasters with a “big story” for the season opener. The best thing you can do is to leave the records to the record keepers and enjoy some great Texas High School Football.

Jerry Brunson for @CHSWildcatNews

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