Six-man teams off to good start

The 2011 football season was very successful for the two private school six-man teams in Hood County.

And, from early indications, 2012 could be even better.

The North Central Texas Academy Pioneers (formerly Happy Hill) are off to a 3-0 start entering the weekend and all of their victories have come by six-man football’s mercy rule.

Last season, the Pioneers reached the championship game of the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools Six-Man Division II. They lost 68-18 to Fredericksburg Heritage.

Meanwhile, Cornerstone is picking up where it left off in its debut season. They went 8-4 and advanced to the second round of the Texas Christian Athletic League Six-Man Division II playoffs, losing 66-16 to eventual state champion Stephenville Faith.

The Crusaders (2-1 entering last night) have easily disposed of their two private school foes, 52-6 over Wise County Home School and 61-19 over Weatherford Home School. Their lone loss was to Sidney, a public school offensive powerhouse, 48-32, as Cornerstone held them to their lowest offensive output of the season and scored the most against them.

Cornerstone had two touchdowns nullified by penalties.

“I feel that we are right where we need to be,” said Cornerstone coach Bobby Johnson. “The boys are happy, having a great time, and playing aggressive football.

“We are improving daily.”

Entering play last night at home against Dublin Premiere (0-2), the Pioneers had disposed of San Antonio Lutheran 66-18, Killeen Memorial 60-13 and Fort Worth Hill 52-7.

“Sure, it’s great to get off to a 3-0 start. The kids have worked their tails off and deserve it,” said first-year NCTA coach Kirby Rasco. “I have said it before, but they are hungry. They want to win that last game on Dec. 8 (the state championship game).”

Both NCTA and Cornerstone are in the top five in the state in their respective classifications. The Pioneers are No. 3, and the Crusaders are No. 5.

And both are looking up at district foes they will have to go through to win state championships. Wichita Falls Notre Dame is the No. 1 team in TAPPS Six-Man Division II, and Stephenville Faith is atop the rankings in TCAL Six-Man Division II.

The Pioneers travel to play Notre Dame on Oct. 12 and Cornerstone hosts Faith in the regular-season final Nov. 2.

Last season’s game between the Pioneers and Notre Dame was one of the most exciting across the state. Notre Dame held on for a 44-38 victory when they stopped the Pioneers inches short of a touchdown as time expired.

Cornerstone also lost its regular-season finale, 68-20 to Faith, in a game played in Bluff Dale.

Rasco said that while the offensive numbers jump out, he is equally impressed with the Pioneers’ defensive performance this season. For example, they have had a player return an interception for a touchdown in each game heading into last night, and had another called back because of a penalty.

“It shows how aggressive our defense has been,” Rasco said.

As is always the case in six-man football, avoiding injuries is extremely crucial to success. Rasco said the Pioneers have been fortunate this season, with only one player out with an injury, a broken finger.

“If we can stay healthy, it should be fun,” Rasco said. “The kids deserve all the credit. They are smart, determined and hungry.”

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