Undefeated Hughes Springs Looks to Make Plenty of Noise Over the Rest of 2017 Season
There's one thing Chris Edwards is familiar with, and that's playing football after Week 10.
You could be referring to his time as a player at Daingerfield, one of the state's most legendary high school football programs. Or you could be talking about his nearly 11 years at Hughes Springs, where his Mustangs reached the playoffs every season.
Until last year.
Not playing postseason football was new territory for Edwards and his team. Hughes Springs entered district play 3-2, but were only able to win one of its final six games, leaving the Mustangs at home when playoff season began.
"I think we made the mistake of comparing other teams and other games to us, which had our heads spinning a little bit," Edwards said on Wednesday. "We got big eyed looking down the road and what happened behind us when we needed to be taking things one week at a time."
So far in 2017, things are headed in the right direction in Hughes Springs, Texas.
"There's not much I can say that I don't like. Their attitudes are great, and the kids are playing their hearts out," Edwards said. "Balls are bouncing our way a little bit, but you have to go out and earn that a little more than you don't. We're clicking as a team at the moment instead of individuals, which is a great thing."
The Mustangs are 4-0 going into their final non-district game against Garrison on Friday, with a loaded district schedule behind that. Hughes Springs hadn't won consecutive games since Weeks 3 and 4 in 2016.
Edwards pointed to one particular game this season that he thinks is the driving force behind a revamped Hughes Springs team in 2017.
"You always look for one of two things that pull you together. Sometimes it's a tough loss that pulls you together and sometimes it's a big win. It's something that adds meaning to what you've been preaching and teaching," Edwards said. "For us I I think the Arp game (Hughes Springs won 22-21) that was the biggest springboard for us."
Edwards referred to one of his biggest wins in high school as a reference, when Daingerfield beat Southlake Carroll, 19-13, in the 1989 regional round of the Class 3A playoffs. The win ended Southlake Carroll's 48-game winning streak.
"It just goes to show that if you believe and want it bad enough, you can do it," Edwards said. "That kind of propelled us with our attitudes and belief in what's going on. They've been doing it, but that big of a win was just the old spur in the butt."
Hughes Springs has been equally dominant on both sides of the ball through four games, with the Mustangs averaging nearly 340 yards on the ground offensively and allowing 176 yards per game on defense.
Five different ball carriers have scored touchdowns on the season, led by Tradarian Craver's 64 carries for 494 yards and three touchdowns. Isaiah Bolden, who scored the game-winning touchdown against Arp, has four scores on the ground.
Defensively, teams are averaging just over 3.5 yards per carry against Hughes Springs, and the Mustangs have allowed just 276 yards rushing through four games. That's against stout rushing attacks in teams such as Arp, Daingerfield and Paul Pewitt.
"We've got a group of seven really devoted seniors and all of them play hard and play well. And we've got a junior and sophomore class who are like the baby deer and like to go real fast," Edwards said. "They don't know any better than to do what they're coached to do, and that makes our seniors even more coachable."
Hughes Springs is two weeks from starting District 8-3A Division I play, with favorites White Oak and Jefferson up first. The Mustangs have a strong shot to make it back to the familiar place of postseason football if they follow the goals they have in place, Edwards said.
"You can come up with as many goals for you team as you want, but we came up with three things that if we can accomplish them, we can win any football game," Edwards said. "We say it every week: win time of possession, don't turn the ball over and don't make stupid penalties and you can win the game."