After upending Springlake-Earth 35-32 for the District 3-1A Division II title on Nov. 5, the Farwell Steers figured they might see the Wolverines again in the playoffs.
Farwell (11-1) and Springlake-Earth (12-1) are two of eight teams left in the field, and collide at Lowrey Field in Lubbock in today’s 7 p.m. (CST) Region I championship game.
While the senior-laden Steers, who edged district rival Bovina 28-21 last week in Amarillo, are looking forward to the rematch, they know the Wolverines will be up to the task as well.
“We know they’re going to come out fired up as much as we are,” senior two-way tackle Julian Cuevas said. “It’s a matter of who executes their plays the best.”
Neither team has ever been this deep in the playoffs. The winner advances to a state semifinal game against either Windthorst (11-1) or Munday (11-2) at 7:30 p.m. (CST) on Dec. 10 at Sweetwater.
The championship game is scheduled for Mansfield, near Fort Worth, on the weekend of Dec. 17-18.
First-year Steers coach Mike Prokop, who led Texico to three small-school state titles in a nine-year run, expects a classic tussle.
“It’ll just be a battle of wills,” Prokop said. “I think it’s going to be a great game. Our kids are ready.”
Springlake-Earth jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the earlier contest, but Farwell scored three times in the final seven minutes of the first half to take the lead for good. The Steers clinched the game on a 13-yard pass from senior quarterback Landry Actkinson to senior tight end Kolten Morris, making it 35-26 with 2:10 left.
Farwell’s squad includes 14 seniors. The Steers have gone through ups and downs in recent years before putting things together this season under Prokop.
“We’ve always had the talent, but we wouldn’t be here without Coach Pro,” senior two-way tackle Matt Martin said. “He got us believing in what we’re doing.
“I never dreamed of playing this far (into the playoffs). I want to keep making Farwell history.”
This year’s Steers have already matched the program’s win total for the previous three seasons.
“I always had the dream for us as a (class) to make something of ourselves,” Cuevas said. “I saw Farwell in some playoffs games (in the past) and I remember thinking, ‘That’s where I want to be.”
Farwell suffered a key loss when senior running back-linebacker Colby Read went down with a knee injury in its second-round win over Wheeler.
“But other kids stepped up against Bovina,” Prokop said. “We miss Colby, but we just have to go on.”
Farwell vs. Springlake-Earth
What: Class 1A Division II Region I championship (state quarterfinal)
When: 7 p.m. (CST) today at Lowrey Field, Lubbock
Records: Farwell 11-1, Springlake-Earth 12-1
Last meeting: Nov. 5 at Farwell, the Steers handed the Wolverines their only loss of the season, 35-32.
Farwell in the playoffs: First-round bye; def. Wheeler 27-7; def. Bovina 28-21.
Springlake-Earth in the playoffs: Def. Seagraves 42-0; def. Wellington 34-28; def. Plains 35-20.
Up next: Winner faces either Windthorst (11-1) or Munday (11-2) in the semifinals at 7:30 p.m. (CST) Dec. 10 at Sweetwater.
— Compiled by Dave Wagner