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It shouldnât come as a big surprise that a change has forced Blackwellâs football team to make some last-minute adjustments. Itâs been happening all year.
On Wednesday, it was announced that the Hor-netsâ playoff game against Grandfalls-Royalty would be played today in Rankin â 24 hours earlier than scheduled â due to icy weather forecasts for Friday.
Blackwell (10-1) had to cancel three of its 10 regular-season games, managing to reschedule only one, so the shuffle is nothing new. And head coach Clint Lowry says his team looks forward to continuing its best playoff run in 17 years.
âWeâre pretty confident,â he said of the Hornets, whose 70-26 bi-district win over Lueders-Avoca was its first playoff victory since the 1996 season. âWe went into this year with the expectation of doing better than we did last year (when Blackwell was 5-6 overall and lost in bi-district), and weâve done that. Theyâve been loose in practice.â
However, Lowry knows it will take a huge effort to defeat Grandfalls-Royalty, which is also 10-1 and currently ranked No. 2 in Six-Man, Division II. The Cow-boys have won 10 straight and âare the quickest team weâve faced,â he said.
âWe canât have any boo-boos. Weâll have to stay on our blocks and hold them longer, and make good decisions,â said Lowry, whose team is ranked No. 10 in Division II. âIâm looking forward to (the game).â
Grandfalls-Royalty, the District 6 champion, routed Loop 68-20 to begin the playoffs and hasnât lost since falling to Water Valley 32-20 to begin the season.
But Lowry, who coached G-R to the state quarterfinals in 2005, thinks that the teams match up pretty well in that they both lack size and rely on their quickness.
Jayden Jones (1,381 yards during the regular season)leads Blackwellâs running game. Grandfalls-Royaltyâs Jr. Marquez and Thomas Burns have combined to rush for over 1,500 yards, and have a TD every third touch of the football this season.
âThey can score from anywhere,â Lowry said. âHope-fully we can control the ball and do what we need to do.â
While Blackwell is having its best season in nearly two decades, Grandfalls-Royalty has every starter back from last yearâs 13-1 team that made the state semifinals.
The Cowboys were ranked No. 1 prior to the season by Texas Football magazine, and they also boast three players who were first team all-state a year ago â Marquez at running back, Burns at linebacker and Julian Helms at safety.
Jones isnât Blackwellâs only star. Matthew Lowry, son of the head coach, took over at quarterback this year and had 822 yards passing, throwing for 19 touchdowns on just 63 attempts during the regular season. Franck Cano had three rushing TDs against Lueders-Avoca. And donât forget the defense, which coach Lowry said had its best game last week in holding L-A to just one score after halftime. Mason Magness led Blackwell with 82 tackles during the regu-lar season while Jones was right behind him, getting in on 77 stops.
If Blackwell wins today, the Hornets could get another shot at Loraine, which beat them last season in bi-district. Loraine plays Dawson in Region IIâs other semifinal today in Ackerly.
Another win would send Blackwell to the state quarterfinals for the first time since the â96 team did it. Coach Lowry said he thinks his players are aware they are the first team to win a playoff game since then, but âthey just want to play and get another trophy.â