TOLAR – Mildred demonstrated why it’s regarded as one of the best Class 2A football teams in the state, racking up almost 500 yards in total offense and handing Tolar its first loss in District 6-2A, Division II, 56-18 Friday night at Rattler Stadium.
Tolar (5-2, 3-1), which saw its five-game win streak stopped by the Eagles, now shifts its focus on the next team goal.
The Rattlers will travel to Blooming Grove Friday in a game that likely will determine which of those two teams will be the runner-up in the district for purposes of playoff matchups.
“It’s another real big one. We had one thing taken away,” Franklin said of the Rattlers’ goal of winning the district title. “Now our goal is the playoffs. We’re still very much alive. Next week we work to become second place in district. It’s going to be another big test. I think our kids will come to work ready to go, and learn from their mistakes. I’d be pretty disappointed if they just shut down.”
Mildred (6-1, 4-0) had been ranked as high as No. 4 in the state in Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine preseason coaches poll. They reached the state semifinals a year ago.
Tolar running back Cory Solomon scored the Rattlers’ first touchdown on a 62-yard run that pulled them within 14-6 with 46 seconds left in the opening quarter. Solomon, a junior, went over the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the second year in a row. He gained 161 yards on 18 carries, giving him 1,084 yards through seven games.
But Mildred countered with two big guns – elusive running back Draylon Sterling and quarterback Nic Shimonek – a slick, 6-foot, 5-inch Iowa Hawkeye recruit. They both earned all-state honors last season.
Against Tolar, the two combined for 403 yards in total offense.
Sterling led all rushers with 212 yards on 14 carries, and scored four TDs.
“I thought we could get a little pressure on them,” said Tolar coach Mike Franklin. “They controlled the line of scrimmage, offensively and defensively, most of the night. When you win that battle, you’re going to win quite a bit.”
Solomon had 121 yards rushing by halftime, but the Rattlers couldn’t keep up Mildred’s scoring pace and trailed 35-12 entering the second half.
“There’s no doubt they’re a good football team, but we have a lot of confidence we can move the ball,” Mildred head coach Patrick Harvell said.
Zack Hasegawa’s 58-yard kickoff return gave the Rattlers a boost midway through the second quarter. Tolar set up shop at Mildred’s 42-yard-line, and eight plays later Landon Morris flipped a 5-yard TD pass to Rodie Brister, pulling Tolar within 28-12 with 5:41 remaining in the half.
Mildred opened the second half with an 11-play, 65-yard scoring drive, and the Rattlers ran only 11 offensive plays from scrimmage in the third quarter.
Johnathan Harrison intercepted a Tolar pass and returned it 32 yards to set up the Eagles’ offense at the Rattlers’ 23-yard line. Two snaps later, Sterling scored on his 27-yard TD run as the Eagles took a 49-12 advantage.
Dakota Endsley, who once again alternated by series through the contest with starter Corbin Wood, threw for 113 yards, completing 11 of 15 with one interception.
“We had some good drives; we just couldn’t put them all together,” Franklin said. “I felt like we needed to match them score for score, and we didn’t.”
The Rattlers – who have posted two shutouts this season – weren’t able to take the ball away from the Eagles, who needed to punt only once and scored touchdowns on eight of their 10 possessions.
“They don’t turn the ball over much,” Franklin said. “I felt like we needed to put them in long situations and it just didn’t happen. I felt like we needed to control the ball, and we didn’t do a good enough job of that.”
Eagles 56, Rattlers 18
Mildred 21 14 14 7 – 56
Tolar 6 6 0 6 – 18
M – Nic Shimonek 3 run (Devin O’Sullivan kick)
M – Shimonek 1 run (O’Sullivan kick)
T – Cory Solomon 62 run (kick failed)
M – Draylon Sterling 28 pass from Shimonek (O’Sullivan kick)
M – Sterling 79 run (O’Sullivan kick)
T – Rodie Brister 5 pass from Landon Morris (run failed)
M – Sterling 15 run (O’Sullivan kick)
M – Shimonek 4 run (O’Sullivan kick)
M – Sterling 27 run (O’sullivan kick)
M – Mikey Muncy 4 pass from Shimonek (O’Sullivan kick)
T – Dakota Endsley 5 run (kick failed)
First downs 24 18
Rushing yards 44-359 37-221
Passing yards 128 138
Comp-att-int. 11-21-0 16-29-2
Punts-avg 1-31 3-39.3
Fumbles-lost 0-0 3-0
Penalties-yards 9-80 4-39
Mildred – Draylon Sterling 14-212, Nic Shimonek 14-63, Jeremy Ballard 7-51, Nathan Childress 6-28, Mikey Muncy 2-7, Johnathan Harrison 1-(minus 2).
Tolar – Cory Solomon 18-161, Corbin Wood 10-44, Landon Morris 1-10, B.J. Dollins 2-4, Dakota Endsley 5-2, Grant Winston 1-0.
Mildred – Shimonek 11-21-0.
Tolar – Wood 4-12-1, 20 yards; Endsley 11-15-1, 113 yards; Morris 1-2-0, 5 yards.
Mildred – Harrison 4-56, Sterling 1-28, Jase Butler 2-14, Muncy 2-13, Will Burnham 1-11, Raleigh Seilheimer 1-6.
Tolar – Grant Winston 4-46, Jared Sparks 2-29, Solomon 1-21, Morris 5-21, Rodie Brister 3-17, Justin Brown 1-4.