For Dublin to keep pace in the District 11-2A playoff race, the Lions must overcome both a rash of injuries and an opponent that Dublin Head Football Coach Dwayne Ross says is better than its record indicates.
Dublin (5-2, 1-1) hosts Maypearl (0-7, 0-2) at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Memorial Stadium in Dublin.
Already having lost two-way starter Derek Reeder for the season with a broken leg, the Lions have received more bad news over the course of the last two weeks.
In its district-opening loss to Grandview, Reeder wasn't the only Lion to go down. Luis Zavala stretched the ligaments in his ankle and had it casted Wednesday. The celebration was somewhat bittersweet after a 28-6 win in Rio Vista last week because starting left guard Jessie Medina suffered a chipped tibia (lower leg bone). He is scheduled to have a cast put on Saturday, and is not expected to return this season, according to Ross.
The Lions will also be without defensive stalwart Colton Dipple, who suffered a hip pointer last week. Ross is hopeful that Dipple will be able to return next week.
“We can't afford to lose anyone else, said Ross.
As for the opponent, Ross is convinced Maypearl is the best winless team he's ever seen.
“They do some things that just make you shake your head and say, wow,' and then they turn around and lose 10-15 yards or get a penalty or turn it over, Ross said. “They always seem to be one step away from breaking a big play.
Supporting Ross' claims about Maypearl is the Panthers' near upset of Itasca. Maypearl was close the whole way before falling 21-19. The win was the sixth consecutive at the time for the Wampus Cats, and by far their closest. Their streak has since ended in a loss to Grandview, and they visit Hico tonight.
Maypearl fell to Hico last week, 49-18. Two first half plays turned what had the potential to be a close game into a rout, as Hico scored off a pair of interceptions.
Ross expects Maypearl to continue its use of a variety of offensive formations, particularly the spread and the double-wing power set.
Defensively, Maypearl likes to bring pressure with their outside linebackers, according to Ross.
With Maypearl sporting a winless record, it would only be human intuition for Dublin to be caught peeking ahead at next week's rivalry showdown with Hico, but Ross does not believe that is a problem.
“We see them on film because we play so many of the same opponents, but we try to emphasize not watching the red and white team, said Ross. “I don't think anybody's looking ahead, especially with the number of kids who are having to step in for us.
Brad Keith is the sports editor at the Empire-Tribune. He can be reached at (254) 965-3124, ext. 241, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.