[By Stephen Amason, Special to ETSN.fm]

In order to make playoffs out of a loaded district, defeating good teams is a must.

Last week, Sabine (5-2, 2-1) had a huge win over previously undefeated and fourth-ranked West Rusk, 23-7, making the Cardinals playoff contenders now in District 8-3A Division I.

They play in one of the state’s strongest districts in 3A, and the Cardinals know they have their work cut out for them if they want advance beyond the regular season.

“We knew we were gonna beat somebody we shouldn’t and we got over that hump last Friday,” said Sabine coach Rex Sharp. “It doesn’t get easy from here on out either, we head to Mineola this week, then Gladewater, and at White Oak. It’s a difficult journey but our kids are playing well, they believe in themselves, and we’re getting better fundamentally. I like my football team at this point.”

Sabine’s offense is led by quarterback Landon McKinney, who has 1,033 passing yards with five touchdowns and has over 600 yards with 13 touchdowns on the ground.

“He’s heck of player, very savvy kid,” Sharp said. “He’s a leader, too, and he’s a playmaker, great kid, he studies the game, and loves the game. He can make any throw on the field and he’s savvy enough that if he gets into trouble he can make things happen on the field.”

On the defensive side of the ball Sabine has one of the best linebackers in all of 3A football in Kobe Renfro, who has an astounding 101 tackles on the year.

Sharp feels that Renfro has what it takes to play football after high school.

“He’s just one of those players that’s always around the football, he plays nasty and I mean that in a good way,” Sharp said of Renfro. “He loves the game and when the lights come one he’s gonna find a way to get involved on the play. We’ve had some really good linebackers come out of here and he may be the best and I think he can play at the next level.”

The Cardinals must keep firing on all cylinders in order to make the playoffs. They do have a tough schedule in front of them but, they proved tothemselves last week that they can beat anybody at any time.

Sabine is on the road this Friday against Mineola.

“They have a good football team and they’re not too many years removed from a state championship,” Sharp said of Mineola. “It’s a great program, they have talented kids, they have a great running back and is as good as any running back that we have faced in this district already. They have a quarterback with a really good (skill-set) as well, they have good offensive linemen, and they have a defense that’ll get after you. It’s quite a challenge, especially with us being on the road.

“This is a tough district, there’s no easy Friday night in this district.”