The Sweetwater football team completed Step 1 on its way to becoming a play-off contender by defeating a winless Big Spring team 28-6 this past Friday at Mustang Bowl.
Now comes the hard part — winning at least one of its final two games against two of the most respected pro-grams in the state, begin-ning with Friday’s District 5-3A game at Snyder (6-1, 1-0), which is riding a six-game winning streak.
Snyder opened district this past week with a 28-14 win over Brownwood (5-3, 1-1), which will come here to face the Mustangs when they wrap up their regular season at the Bowl a week from Friday.
Brownwood was limited to 208 yards against Snyder, a total Keenon Ward was able to exceed all by himself just when running the ball against the Lions. The Texas Tech-bound Ward, a three-year starter at quarterback, was nearly unstoppable as he ran 20 times for 218 yards and three scores, and threw to Guillermo Rodriguez for another TD. It was one of just two pass completions in the game by Ward, as Snyder relied primarily on a strong ground game to do its damage.
Since an opening loss to Monahans, Snyder has won six straight while averaging 35 points a game.
Sweetwater must some-how contain the Tigers and Ward to have a chance, coach Craig Slaughter ad-mitted. “We need to limit the yardage that he gets, and especially we need to limit the explosiveness,” he said. “We just want to make sure that we are aligned where we’re supposed to be so we can get the kids to the ball. We’re still in control of our destiny. Snyder is a big challenge, but I think we’re starting to play consistent football. But no matter what happens this week, you are playing for your playoff life from here out.
“Snyder is extremely solid and extremely aggressive,” Slaughter continued. “But I love our kids’ attitudes, and I’m looking forward to the effort (on Friday) and to seeing our kids raise their level of play.
“It’s important that we don’t go three-and-out, be-cause we want to limit the number of times that they have the ball.”
Sweetwater finished with 167 yards rushing last week against the Steers, while QB Taylor Jones completed 7-0f-12 passes for 113 yards. Ryan Linebaugh scored two TDs and rushed 12 times for 99 yards to pace the running game, while Marquees Jenkins scored the last TD on a 9-yard run with just 1:17 left, sealing Sweetwa-ter’s first district win since a 41-14 triumph in 2009 against Breckenridge.
Jones needs just 94 yards passing for a 1,000-yard season, and he and Line-baugh have rushed for over 400 yards. Big Spring had just 74 yards rushing against Sweetwater last week.