Kilgore Setting the Right Tone for 2017 Season After 3-0 Start
Kilgore has struggled to find its stride in the early weeks the past few years, but the Bulldogs are finding themselves in fairly new territory in 2017 being 3-0.
But it hasn't come easy.
The Bulldogs started 0-2 each of the last three seasons, including three consecutive losses to Nacogdoches, only to make the second round of the playoffs in 2016 and 2015. But now Kilgore finds itself 3-0 with two incredible comeback wins.
After ending its skid to Nacogdoches with a 35-21 win in Week 1, Kilgore rallied from 21-0 down to beat Gladewater, 33-21, in Week 2 and broke open a close game with Pine Tree in Week 3 to come out on top 64-28.
"There are going to be ups and downs in a ballgame, but we have to stay the course and keep playing, then good things will happen to you," Kilgore coach Mike Wood said. "Each game this season has been a little bit different, but I'm real proud of our leadership and effort of our kids."
Kilgore has never been one to back down from an early challenge. It's long been Wood's M.O. to put together a tough non-district schedule, because Kilgore has long been lumped among East Texas' best come district. The Bulldogs have been one of the premier members of the District of Doom for six years now.
"We want to play good talent, and we want to play playoff-caliber teams in non-district," Wood said. "Being able to play Nac, Gladewater, Pine Tree and Texas High this week are good-caliber teams to get us ready for district and hopefully the playoffs."
The Bulldogs are coming off a 452-yard rushing performance against Pine Tree and had three players with at least 100 yards on the ground against Gladewater. Wood said his team's experience is not only helping on the leadership front -- especially when facing adverse situations -- but on the side of the ball where points are scored.
"It's Buddy Jackson's third year in running this offense and he has a great understanding of what we're trying to do. His experience and our offensive line are the things that will give us the chance to be successful," Wood said.
Kilgore goes into Friday's game against Texas High looking to avenge a 44-0 loss in 2016, and Wood said his Bulldogs have quite the test in front of them with Texas High's high-octane offense. Tigers quarterback Coltin Clack was this week's ETSN.fm Offensive Player of the Week after accounting for 335 total yards of offense and five touchdowns last week against Liberty-Eylau.
"There's no doubt they're going to be the most talented offense we've seen so far," Wood said. "They have a ton of speed on offense that's going to cause some matchup problems. Hopefully our offense can run the ball so we can keep their offense on the sidelines. And when our defense is on the field, No. 1 we have to be able to pressure the quarterback."
After Texas High is when the real fun begins. Kilgore went 5-1 in the District of Doom last year and ended up with the district championship. This year the Bulldogs will face several improved teams, as well as defending state champion Carthage, which Kilgore beat last year.
"It's tough, of course," Wood said. "But if you can come out of our district as a playoff team and healthy after playing that kind of competition, you're going to have a chance to make a run. And we hope we can do that. That's certainly always our goal."