Richard Stroud

Grove Sun

COLCORD - The Colcord Hornets football team is one group that doesn’t mind having its Thanksgiving plans disrupted.

For the first time since 2005, the Hornets will be playing football on the Friday after Thanksgiving, after last week’s 29-28 come-from-behind win over Talihina put Colcord into the quarterfinals.

Friday’s opponents, the Washington Warriors, aren’t likely to be in a giving mood. Possessing one of the tougher defenses in Class 2A, the Warriors are giving up an average of 204 yards and 20.4 points per game. Led by Aaron Braziel (100 tackles on the season) and Ben Zimmer (96 tackles), the Warriors posted their second shutout of the season in last week’s 35-0 win over Crooked Oak.

“They’re awfully good,” Colcord head coach Bud Simmons said. “Obviously they are, or they wouldn’t be in the quarterfinals.”

The Warriors finished second in District 2A-3 with a 6-1 district record. Their lone loss came at Lindsay, another team in the quarterfinals, by a score of 34-33. Washington’s two non-district losses came to Purcell and Bethany, two teams in 3A that qualified for the playoffs.

Employing an option attack on offense, the Warriors are averaging nearly 289 yards on the ground per game.

“They run a flexbone-type offense, much like Air Force,” Simmons said. "It’s not something you see very much of. You have to play assignment football. That’s what we’ve been working on this week. They run it pretty tough.”

Steven Howard and Zeke Zimmer lead the Warriors’ offense. The duo combined for 213 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s victory. Howard has 1,439 yards and 21 touchdowns on the season, while Zimmer has added 962 yards and 12 touchdowns.

The Hornets will counter with their own offensive attack that features the running of Chris Aguilar and the passing of Canaan Sherrell. Aguilar, who also leads the team defensively with 143 tackles, had 150 yards last week against the Golden Tigers, putting him over the 1,000-yard mark for the season with 1,021. In two playoff games Aguilar has 363 yards and six touchdowns.

Sherrell meanwhile, saved the Hornets’ season with his arm last week, throwing for 59 yards on the game-winning drive, including the 19-yard touchdown pass to Chance Staneart that provided the winning margin.

Staneart, who had two catches on the final drive, finally appears to be fully recovered from a midseason ankle injury.

“I’m not surprised he made that catch,” Simmons said after the game. “He’s been making plays for us all season.”

The Hornets will need similar heroics if they want to advance to the semifinals for the first time since 1998, but Simmons for one, likes his team’s chances.

“I like our chances. They’re a lot like Talihina; they have good skill players but they’re not that big, like us. That’s one of the first things we look for in a team is how big they are. We feel like with our speed we can match up well with any team as long as they’re not too big. Also, playing at home will make a difference for us.”

The Hornets and the Warriors will kickoff at 7:30 this evening in Colcord.