Elysian Fields’ Redemption Tour Makes Another Stop Saturday Night Against District Rival Hughes Springs
It's rare when life presents a second chance, and even stranger when a second, second chance comes along. But that's exactly the situation facing the Elysian Fields Yellow Jackets.
Elysian Fields avenged a 30-point, regular-season loss to Arp with its 30-20 win in their Class 2A Division II regional semifinal last Saturday. And now, the 'Jackets (10-3) get another shot at unbeaten Hughes Springs (12-0) when the two district rivals hook up for the Region III championship Saturday night in Longview.
Hughes Springs defeated Elysian Fields, 55-14, on Oct. 26.
“We’re one of only eight teams left in the state in our classification," said Elysian Fields coach Eric King. "We still feel pretty confident. We feel like Hughes Springs is a great team and they do a super job. But if someone’s going to beat them, why not us? They’re probably one of the toughest teams in the area, but the win last week made us realize we could do this.”
Arp put up more than 400 yards on Elysian Fields in their regular-season meeting, but were completely taken out of their game plan last week in the rematch. The Tigers were held to just 222 yards and trailed 24-6 entering the fourth quarter.
“We worked all week long trying to put together a plan to contain their speed as well as being more aggressive," King said. "It’s hard to do, kind of a passive-aggressive deal. We challenged our kids and talked about second chances and about how in life, second chances don’t come around often.”
Elysian Fields quarterback Trevor Spear totaled 351 yards of offense and accounted for four touchdowns, but the real story was EF's defense, which had been gashed in two previous playoff games.
“It was just a mentality," King said. "We’re trying to develop more of a hard-nosed, physical style on defense. It’s a hard thing to develop, but we made some personnel changes and tweaked the scheme to where we have our best 11 tacklers on the field at the same time."
No one had a bigger impact on defense than safety Zane Barge, who came away from three of his team's four interceptions on the night.
“Zane played real well," King said. "He’s probably not our best tackler, and he’s not the biggest, strongest or fastest. He’s a smart kid who knows the games, he listens and is very coachable. He’s just in the right place at the right time. He doesn't gamble on a whole lot, but when does, he gambles right.”
King said last week's win over Arp gave his team even more confidence heading into this week's regional final even though Hughes Springs has outscored teams by a combined score of 570-141.
“They’re one of the best teams in the state of Texas, no doubt about it," he said. "They’re 12-0 and have scored like eight million points and haven’t given up many. But we feel like we’re pretty good, too, and I think our kids believe. It’s hard to put a finger on it, but when you go through the hallways at school, the school has a buzz for the first time in about five or six years.”
King, despite the confidence, knows this game will be his team's toughest task of the year.
"They’re a nasty offense that will pound on you for 15 plays and make you like it for all 15 plays," he said. "Their kids are strong, nasty and very physical … just a tough group to stop. Their kids buy in. You can stop a scheme or stop Xs and Os, but when kids believe, that’s hard to stop.”
The winner of Saturday's game will play either defending state champion Refugio (12-0) or East Bernard (12-0) in the state semifinals. King said if Refugio wins, the game will be next Friday night in Bryan regardless of which team prevails on Saturday. If East Bernard wins, the game will take place next Friday at Baylor's Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco.