Bullard went 7-3 during the regular season, and took second in district play after winning five of its last six games. The Panthers take on Atlanta in the Class 4A Division II bi-district round of the playoffs, and head coach Shannon Wilson hopes his team is peaking at the perfect moment.

“Being in East Texas is similar to when I was in the Metroplex because there can be a tough first-round opponent, and Atlanta is a really good football team,” Wilson said. “Our focus all year was to peak at the right time, and the right time is this week to start the playoffs. I think we’ve done a good job of getting better as the season wears on, and we’ve played some good football. We’ve been able to adjust throughout the year and move players to develop the offense and defense to suit our players and find an identity.

“Atlanta is a really fast football team. The quarterback can run. He and the running back are really fast, so we’ll need to limit big plays. They have talented players on both sides of the ball.”

Bullard didn’t win district, but a seven-point loss to Gilmer in Week 9 did provide some benefit.

“It was a bittersweet game. We did extremely well against a really good team, but we couldn’t close the deal,” Wilson said. “On the positive side of it, our confidence really grew. I think our kids realized we may be even better than we thought.”

Bullard lost two games in non-district play, but came alive after a bye week midway through the season, especially on the offensive side of the ball.

“Since the bye week, we tweaked some stuff offensively and focused on what we did best, and tried to make our scheme fit our personnel,” Wilson said. “Our pass game picked up and that’s helped the running game. We’re more balanced offensively right now and that has helped us in a lot of ways.”

Junior tight end Major Tennison, a Texas Longhorns commit, is the main focus of any defensive staff preparing to face Bullard.

“Major creates matchup issues against anyone we play. He can be lined up anywhere and he’s becoming a really good blocker,” Wilson said. “He can play with his hand on the ground, or we can split him out wide. He’s a great weapon. He’s taken a lot of pride in his blocking, and he’s an unselfish kid.”