The Nacogdoches Dragons and first-year head coach Darren Allman had high hopes of a strong playoff run in 2019 when the squad opened training camp this fall. But because a rash of injuries, struggles in several areas such as turnovers, penalties and a sub-par running game, in addition to a number of questionable calls and plays that didn’t go their way in critical situations this season, there will be no playoffs for NHS after Friday season finale.
Nacogdoches (2-7, 2-4 dist.) will go on the road to close out the season when the Dragons clash with Mount Pleasant (4-5, 2-4 dist.), as the two squads will be missing the postseason, while battling for sole possession of fifth place in the District 9-5A DII race to end the year.
The contest will be played at Sam Parker Field, kicking off at 7:30 p.m. The contest will be aired live on KTBQ Radio (107.7-FM).
In other 9-5A action Friday, Marshall (6-3, 6-0 dist.) will attempt to wrap up the undisputed league title when the Mavs host playoff-bound Pine Tree (5-4, 4-2 dist.), playoff-bound Lindale (6-3, 4-2 dist.) will travel to Jacksonville (2-7, 1-5 dist.), and Whitehouse (6-3, 5-1 dist.), which still has a chance at capturing part of the district title, will visit last-place Hallsville (2-7, 0-6 dist.). All games will kick off at 7:30 p.m.
“I’ve not been in these situations [not playing for a playoff spot] a bunch of times, but this is kind of like a playoff game for us,” Allman said this week. “It’s not do-or-die, but there is some finality to it. And there’s some reward that goes with the game that you’d don’t understand unless you are directly involved with the program.”
The Dragons are coming off probably their best overall performance of the season a week ago when rolled up 250 yards on the ground and 261 more through the air, outgaining Hallsville 511-238 in a 43-8 win.
Allman said, as he continues to build the program, it’s important that the team head into the postseason on a strong note.
“Given what the players’ playoff chances were the other night, they had a great week of practice and really came ready to play and performed well for four quarters,” the coach said. “And now that puts us in a position this week so we can go out and do it again.
“We want to build some momentum off of that. We don’t want to dilute some of the momentum we have going by not doing it again. Regardless of the score or outcome, we want to play well for four quarters and not make mistakes, playing good, hard, discipline football and do it with class. We need to go out with class.”
Junior Camorian Thacker led NHS ground attack a week ago, running for 155 yards and a pair of touchdowns on only 12 carries. He leads the Dragons on the year with 560 yards and seven scores.
Senior Jake Smith has been steady all season, completing 116-of-201 (57.7%) for 1,477 yards, 10 touchdowns and only six interceptions.
Most weeks there have been more than a handful of Dragons that have caught passes. Nazavian Floyd led seven Nacogdoches receivers a week ago with 143 yards and a score on five receptions. Jatavious Deckard leads the team with 39 grabs for 438 yards and four TDs, while Floyd has hauled in 35 for 582 yards and three scores.