‘Stangs, Indians vie for 2-4A lead

Ron Howell
Sports Editor

The two teams that lead District 2-4A, Division II will play here Friday in a game that could decide the No. 1 seed at the end of the regular season.
The 7 p.m. showdown has Sweetwater (3-0, 7-0) host-ing Seminole (4-0, 7-1) in what is also a rematch of the two teams who met in the 2016 Class 4A, D-II regional finals. Finally, it marks the return of Kent Jackson, who is Seminole’s head coach, to the place where he coached Sweetwater from 2001-08.
It’s the first of three games left for the Mustangs to decide their district seeding for the playoffs. Sweetwater goes to Monahans (2-1) and then hosts Midland Greenwood (1-2) to end the regular season.
Seminole comes in with an edge in that area. It beat Monahans 30-13 and Greenwood 35-32 when it began district play, after losing to both a year ago when the Indians qualified as the district’s No. 4 seed.
Sweetwater wants to win a district championship — a prize the Mustangs were denied when they lost 19-16 to Monahans last year when the teams played at Mustang Bowl. “We got the district championship taken away from us at home last year and the players don’t want that to happen again,” said coach Ben McGehee on Wednesday.
Some may see the next three games as a gauntlet for Sweetwater. McGehee sees it as a good thing. “I think it gets our kids ready for the playoffs,” he said. “Our kids need to be challenged and tested before the postseason,” he said. “I think all three of these games coming up will present us with different challenges.”
The Mustangs have faced only a few challenges so far in their 7-0 start, winning all their games by 25 points or more. The same thing happened before losing to Monahans last year under former head coach Shane Mobley, until rebounding to advance to the state finals.
The fact that several of the current players were part of that playoff run will help them Friday, McGehee said.
Sweetwater has totally dominated its seven opponents so far except for the first half of its District 2-4A, D-II opener, when it trailed Pecos 23-20. A 43-7 run led to a 63-30 win, however, and the team has outscored Lamesa and Fort Stockton 110-14 in its last two games.
Seminole, after starting with a 20-17 overtime loss to Lubbock High, also has a seven-game winning streak. Its defense has allowed just 67 points in that time, almost half of them in the close win over Greenwood, and the offense had at least 30 points in those games.
McGehee is quick to say that the Indians are “a pretty solid ball club” and that containing Seminole’s triple option attack won’t be easy.
“Our guys have to be in the right place,” he said. “With all the formations they have it presents alignment problems.
“It’s assignment football. You have to know where to be or they will kick your butt,” McGehee continued. “You have to have every gap accounted for.
“What’s impressive about their defense is how hard they play. They fly to the ball. They aren’t that big or fast, but are where they are supposed to be.”
McGehee said the coaches are just as excited about this week as the players. “I think most of us have been waiting for this. I think it will be a fun atmosphere and we’re ready to go,” he said.