On Friday, Glen Rose will welcome one of the more challenging opponents it has faced this year for homecoming.
Tiger Football (5-0) will take on the Fairfield Eagles (3-2), and coach Tommy Dunn is confident his players will keep their focus on the field.
“There are lots of distractions this week, which is why we schedule (homecoming) for a non-district game,” Dunn said. “We try to keep the guys as focused as possible. With the (high) number of seniors we have – they’ve all been through it before and that leadership definitely helps. We always want to play our best.
“This is our sixth game and we try to improve every week. We should play better than we did (against West), but our opponent is at a different level, too, with a lot of team speed.”
Fairfield started fast this season with road wins over Diboll (27-17), Canton (47-20) and Madisonville (22-21). It has since lost at home to Center (26-23) and last week against No. 1 Navasota (41-7).
Eagle quarterback Aaron Cain completed just two of nine passes for 14 yards against Navasota with two interceptions and a lost fumble. Larry Rose (11-62) was the top rusher.
“Fairfield came up against the best team in the state in the eyes of many; they’re ranked No. 1 for a reason and they have a tremendous amount of speed,” Dunn said. “Fairfield has a lot of players back from last year’s team that went through the regular season undefeated. They’ve lost to two good teams, but we know they’re a good football team looking to put (the Navasota) game out of their mind.”
For the season, Cain has completed 35 of 83 passes for 449 yards with three touchdowns and five interceptions. He’s also run for 190 yards and four scores on 28 carries. The top rushers are Rose (41-296, 2 TD) and Andre Welch (120-496, 5 TD), while the top receivers are Chris Lide (10-179, 3 TD) and Cooper Cole (11-161).
“You look at those three guys running the ball (first and foremost),” Dunn said. “They’ve changed their offense up a little bit since the season started, running more in these last two. They didn’t want to make a (passing) mistake against Navasota’s team speed. I believe they want to be more balanced, so I think that’s what we’ll see.
“They’re talented with very good athletes. They have a really good offensive line, and I think that’s why they tried to pound Navasota. Once you get behind running an offense like that, it kind of (puts you in a bind).”
Fairfield has played well on defense for the most part this year, with only Navasota scoring more than 26 against the Eagles.
“(Alex Ward) is a standout outside linebacker and also a very good receiver,” Dunn said. “They aren’t particularly big on the defensive front. When you get down in the red zone on them, they’ll try to beef up their interior.
“In the secondary, they have athletes. Overall, it’s a well-coached unit that runs to the football well.”
Dunn didn’t have much to complain about regarding his team’s 47-point win over West last week.
“We had a critical turnover late in the first half that gave them some momentum, but I thought we did well with our 29 offensive snaps,” the coach said. “Our special teams really gave us an edge; we had two punt returns go for touchdowns and those were huge for momentum. We moved the ball well, but defensively we just came out in the second half and shut them down – even though (the West offense) was on the field a long time.”
Receiver Austin Gibson is doubtful for this week’s game, while kicker Martin De Los Santos is probable.
Dunn wants to see his team sharp when Friday night rolls around.
“(Fairfield is) the best team we’ve faced since China Spring,” Dunn said. “We need to see that upgrade in opponent before we get into district. We’re going to have to be very careful with the football.
“We’ve had guys wide-open in the secondary, but those windows are going to get smaller and smaller. We can’t let those opponents get away, and defensively we can’t let them have any big plays.”