Now comes the game the North Central Texas Pioneers have been looking forward to all season.
NCTA (6-0) travels to Wichita Falls Notre Dame (4-0). It is the district opener for both state-ranked powers, and a game that will likely decide who wins the league.
NCTA is ranked fifth in TAPPS Division II by Sixmanfootball.com. Notre Dame is No. 1.
If the game is anything like last season, it will be a thriller from beginning to end – literally. The 2011 matchup ended with Notre Dame winning 44-38 and the Pioneers inches away from scoring.
The Pioneers went on to reach the state championship game and finish second to Fredericksburg Heritage. Notre Dame lost in the semifinals, also to Heritage.
“We go to Notre Dame on Friday to play the game we have had circled on our schedule since I got here in June,” said first-year NCTA coach Kirby Rasco. “Our kids didn’t like the way this game turned out last year and they are ready to play.
“They are big and physical and will be tough to stop. I feel it will be a good game and a fun one to watch.
“It will be our speed against their size. They have six kids over 200 pounds.
“Its gonna have a playoff atmosphere.”
In the meantime, the Pioneers played an entire game for the first time last Friday, defeating Harrold (1-5) 63-44. NCTA had won each of its first five by six-man football’s 45-point mercy rule.
It seemed as though this game would end the same way as NCTA jumped out to a 30-0 second-quarter lead. By halftime it was 30-14.
“We played well at times against Harrold,” Rasco said. “We got up big on them early and they kept chipping away at us. They got after us.
“We got a little complacent, and that allowed them to get back into the game. But we made some plays when we had to.”
Josh Torres (14-272, 4 TDs) and Angel Tercero (5-108, 2 TDs) combined for nearly 300 yards on the ground and six scores. Tercero also passed for four scores, including three to Cole Rasco.
In addition, Tercero led the defense with 13 tackles.
The Pioneers had two critical fourth-down stops on defense, including one inside their own 5-yard line.
“It was a good test and a full game,” said Rasco.
Pioneers 63, Harrold 44
NCTA 22 8 18 15 – 63
Harrold 0 14 14 16 – 44
Rushing – Josh Torres. 14 rushes 272 yards 4 TDs; Angel Tercero 5-108, 2 TDs.
Passing – J. Torres 2-2, 19 yards; Tercero 6-19, 87 yards, 4 TDs.
Receiving – Cole Rasco 4-60, 3 TDs; Elias Fekadu 3-22, 1TD.
Tackles – Tercero 13, Caleb Finley 11, Fekadu 11, Matt Torres 10, J. Torres 7, Cale Dodson 7.
Interception – Cole Rasco 1.