It is here. The final countdown has begun for the day that most Bulldog Fans circled before this year’s pre-season ever began. The Bulldogs are just two games away from their dream; their dream that started last year with a hard-fought loss to Mason at Cowboy Stadium. At the end of the game, they knew two things for sure…they wanted to make it back and the next time…they would win.
The Bulldogs must defeat the Italy Gladiators to make it to Cowboy Stadium on December 20th. The Gladiators’ record of a 9-4 season may not be impressive, but Italy has enjoyed a Cinderella-like season. They are coached by Hank Hollywood, who is in his first year of coaching as a head coach, and they had five starters returning on both sides of the ball after 2011. They are led by Quarterback Marvin Cox who, like Stamford’s Hagen Hutchinson, was one of the nominees for the Gridiron Legends Player of the Week. The team also was honored as the Army Strong team after their 33-20 defeat over Honey Grove. This win in particular has fueled Italy, since Italy had lost to Hico 42-27 in preseason and Honey Grove had defeated Hico 42-27.
Dave Campbell’s Texas Football says one thing to Cinderella teams going up against the Bulldogs. “If you’re out there, Cinderella, listen up: when you get your shot, you better not miss. In this class, the margin of error is even slimmer than midnight and 12:01 am.”
Also battling for a chance to play in the state championship will be Mart and Shiner. The Bulldogs soundly beat Mart in 2011 before going on to face Mason in the finals. Mart like Stamford also had eight returning players on both sides of the ball. There is no doubt that Mart deserves to be in the final four with Coach Rusty Nail claiming this year’s Panthers are “the best he has ever had.” QB DeNerian Thomas who earned MVP of his district returns as a Junior this year.
The Shiner Comanches also sports lots of talent and succeeded at something they weren’t able to pull off last year. They beat top-ranked Mason last week to give them a boost up to being ranked #3 in the state. They had five players on offensive and five players on defense returning for the 2012 season.
Currently the Bulldogs are ranked #1, with Mart and Shiner taking their respective places behind Stamford. Italy has still not moved up into the top 10. It comes down to two last games to determine who will be crowned this year’s champions. We, at the American, vote for a crown in Bulldog Blue.