For the first time since coming to Sweetwater in 1990, your humble sports editor had no football team from Nolan County to cover in the high school playoffs this past season. In fact, there were few victories to write about as the countyâ€™s four schools won just one-fifth of their games (8-32) â€” and one of those was the result of a forfeit.
But there have been eight victories this season already and Sweetwater (2-3) is the only area team that hasnâ€™t already reached or exceeded its win total for last year.
Highland (3-2) is current-ly on a three-game winning streak after going just 3-7 in 2011; Roscoe (1-3) defeated Baird 14-0 this past week for its first win since 2010; and Blackwell (2-3) has shown no-ticeable improve-ment un-der its new coach Clint Lowry and is just a few points away from having a 4-1 mark after fourth-quarter leads against Trent and Blanket slipped away the last two weeks.
Highland, on the other hand, has won twice in the final minute during its current streak â€” starting with a 46-44 win over Loraine Sept. 14. That was followed by the Hornetsâ€™ resounding 86-44 win over Sands on Sept. 21 and this past weekâ€™s 30-25 win over a Trent team that entered the game 4-0 after edging Blackwell.
Highland overcame a 23-8 deficit vs. Trent to go up 24-23 in the third quar-ter, only to fall behind again 25-24 when the Gorillas got a fourth-quarter safety.
However, Highland would not be denied as the Hornets scored on their last possession that began with less than 1:30 left and no timeouts. Highland faced fourth-and goal until Ron Covingtonâ€™s winning 12-yard TD as time expired.
Two weeks earlier in the teamâ€™s win over Loraine, a 16-yard scoring run by Michael Hyde tied it at 44-44 with :39 left and Hyde then kicked the PAT for the win. Loraine, Trent and Sands are all top-25 teams in Division II, so the Hornets werenâ€™t exactly facing weaklings. Highland is No. 26 in the most recent Division I poll and fell one spot despite beating Trent, while Blackwell â€” which will be going to Highland a week from Friday â€” is ranked No. 35 in D-II.
All three Nolan County area schools celebrate homecoming this week while Sweetwater is off. Roscoe â€” 1-0 in district af-ter ending its 14-game losing streak â€” plays host to Cross Plains (1-0, 2-2) on Friday while on Saturday, Highland will host Lueders-Avoca (2-3) in non-district and Blackwell entertains 0-5 Moran. Blackwell and Highland donâ€™t start district games until Oct. 26.
Sweetwater has dealt with several injuries to key play-ers. But getting a week off should help after losing two straight to Wall and Brown-wood. Sweetwater begins district by hosting Snyder â€” also 2-3 â€” on Oct. 12 in the first of two straight at home after three consecutive road games.
The next few weeks are crucial as Sweetwater hosts Greenwood (4-1) on Oct. 19 and probably needs at least a split at home before going to Big Spring on Oct. 26.