COLUMN: Hico, De Leon worth a gander this Friday

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Hico is hosting De Leon Friday in a key 7-2A Division I district contest. || TheFlashToday.com photo by RUSSELL HUFFMAN

STEPHENVILLE (September 29, 2016) — I would never encourage a Stephenville football fan not to travel to Lubbock and shake their can in support of the Yellow Jackets, but if the trip to watch them challenge Monterey is a bit outside your travel radius, or if you’re a Dublin fan with an idle Friday or even a neutral fan just looking for a good game, I have your fix.

Brad Keith is sports editor and a partner at TheFlashToday.com. He has covered Tarleton football since 2002.
Brad Keith is sports editor and a partner at TheFlashToday.com. He has covered Tarleton football since 2002.

Hico is hosting De Leon Friday, and it’s very possible it will prove to be the most important game on each team’s regular season schedule. I’ll be there, as The Flash will provide full coverage of what should be a great local rivalry match-up.  Even the Abilene Reporter-News is interested, enough so that award-winning sports journalist Evan Ren has named it the Big Country Country Game of the Week. Ren reported in his weekly column that it’s the first time for De Leon to be featured in the game of the week.

So why is everyone excited about the 7-2A Division I showdown that kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Tiger Stadium in Hico? Here are a few reasons this is a can’t miss matchup:

  1. PLAYOFF IMPLICATIONS ABOUND: Crawford is the hand’s down favorite to win this loaded district, and tradition-laden Goldthwaite is also tough. De Leon lost to Crawford, 45-7, last week without star quarterback Kevin Yeager. With Goldthwaite still ahead the Bearcats need a win over Hico to improve their playoff standing. But the same goes both ways. Hico was idle last week, and while both these teams will be favored against Hamilton, Valley Mills and San Saba, the Tigers also must face Crawford and Goldthwaite.
  2. KEVIN YEAGER IS THE BEST QB YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT: De Leon is a bit off the beaten path for many of you local fans, and if you haven’t seen this sophomore play, you’re missing out. The son of head coach David Yeager, Kevin, a 6-2, 18o-pound sophomore, has the athleticism, arm strength and IQ to play at the next level. He missed the Crawford game with an ankle injury, but is widely expected to return – as Ren reported in his column, as well – on Friday. Yeager was the offensive MVP of this district a freshman last season.
  3. DEFENSIVE SHOWDOWN – While much is made of Yeager and running back Chris Cox on the De Leon side and running back Jacob Smith and the wing-T attack on the Hico side, it’s defense that has been the bell cow of these two one-loss teams. De Leon allowed only two touchdowns in four games against teams not named Crawford, and Hico has surrendered just two touchdowns in two games since it’s only loss to upstart 3A Tolar. These are sound defenses that are taught a solid system with few wrinkles but good tackling.
  4. FUN ENVIRONMENT – Half the fun of finding a big game on a Friday night is the atmosphere surrounding it, and Hico and De Leon should make for a fun environment at Tiger Stadium. Separated by little more than 30 miles of State Highway 6, they are close enough to have an on-going rivalry, and both are good enough to have a lot on the line.

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