It’s not how you start a season, but how you end it.
Several teams are following that theory as the home stretch of the regular season kicks into gear. After sluggish openings, teams like Dayton, Eisenhower and Dickinson enter the weekend in position to improve their postseason chances.
*After an 0-3 start, Dayton has won four straight behind an offense that has exploded behind the performance of RB Jakari Delasbour, who has scored nine touchdowns in the last three weeks. Coach Jerry Stewart’s Broncos -- who visit North Forest (2-5) have averaged a staggering 53.3 points in that span while taking control of District 19-4A. The always-sturdy defense has found its form, holding foes to just 30 points in their current run.
*A shaky defense was the culprit to Eisenhower’s 0-3 open, and while the defense remains an issue, the Eagles have ripped off four consecutive wins, with a 39-21 defeat of Dayton sparking the run. QB James Jones has been the trigger point for the recent surge, and coach Ray Evans’ squad will need his dual threat wizard to keep up the pace when Eisenhower meets Alief Taylor in a battle of District 18-5A unbeatens.
Taylor’s 6-1 start has been fueled by senior RB Derrick Lair, who has averaged more than 11 yards per carry while rushing for 1,017 yards and 11 touchdowns. The pass-catch combo of Jordan Are’ and Chaz Adams has combined for 368 yards and four scores, while an opportunistic defense has benefited from LBs Trevin Giles and Jonathan Johnson.
*Veteran coach Warren Trahan had to break in a youthful offense, and it showed in losses to Deer Park and Texas City to begin the season. The Gators are 4-1 since, with only a loss to District 24-5A pacesetter Pearland on the docket. They’ll have a chance to make a statement when high-scoring Clear Springs (5-2) comes to Sam Vitanza Stadium for Homecoming.
Arkansas commit Jashaud Sims and the Dickinson secondary will have their hands full against a Chargers attack that has scored at least 35 points in all seven of its contests, including Houston area Player of the Year candidate Howard Matthews, who has 16 total touchdowns. The Gators would be wise to keep an eye on the future Texas A&M commit; Matthews has completed four of five passes for 200 yards and three touchdowns.
*’Also-ran’ Texas City can move closer to one of the three remaining playoff berths in District 24-4A (Friendswood appears to have locked up the top spot) with a win over at Manvel, who must shake off the agony of last week’s near-miss upset of the Mustangs in order to keep their playoff hopes alive.
If the Mavericks intend to slow down Tim Finn’s squad (5-2, 2-1), they’ll have to account for senior S Kaleb Apffel, who has become a turnover machine. Apffel has four interceptions and three fumble recoveries, including one of each in last week’s 43-33 win over rival La Marque. Apffel and the Stings defense will have to be on guard for the Manvel (5-2, 1-2) QB duo of Travaughn Colwell and Dexter Foreman, who have combined for 19 touchdown passes and three scores on the ground.