Lone Grove coach Kenny Ridley certainly hasn't been one to shy away from challenges this season.

Lone Grove coach Kenny Ridley certainly hasn't been one to shy away from challenges this season.

Facing a difficult situation early in the season, Ridley made the risky decision to hand the quarterback position, and the fate of his offense, over to senior wide receiver Jaz Long.

Long had no prior high school experience at the position, but regardless, has the Longhorns (5-4, 4-2 in District 3A-4) in the playoffs and heading into a rivalry matchup with the Plainview Indians (7-2, 5-1).

"Jaz has done a great job for us this year," Ridley said. "We're trying to get some of the finer points of the position through to him, but he knows the formula for success offensively with us is to manage the ball and limit turnovers."

The last part will be especially important against a red-hot Indians offense. Plainview has looked invincible with the ball in its hands during its current five-game winning streak, averaging 48.6 points with an option attack led by junior quarterback Taber Jordan.

"They're just so dynamic," Ridley said. "They have far more team speed than anybody else we've seen in the district this year."

That speed comes into play both in the backfield, with senior backs Austin Carrera and James Bowker, and receivers Chase Brooks and Gage Kennedy. Brooks, especially, has been one of the more dangerous vertical threats in the district this season and is coming off another spectacular game against Pauls Valley, when he hauled in a 61-yard circus catch during the Indians 71-27 win.

"The way Chase has developed this year has been really outstanding," Plainview coach Chris Berus said. "To have him emerge as the vertical threat he is has made the whole offense much easier to run."

But the lynchpin of the group is Jordan, who has developed nicely over the course of the season both as the decision-maker in the option game and as a passer.

"His decision-making, especially on our outside running plays, improves every week and it's reflected in the yards we've been gaining," Berus said.

Both teams are comfortably locked into the playoff picture. Lone Grove is securely in fourth place and could move up to third with a victory, while Plainview will need to win to clinch second place and a hosting opportunity for the first round.

The possibility does exist, however, for the Indians to backdoor their way into the district title, should Madill lose by 12 points or more to Pauls Valley today.

Not that Berus, a perennially process-oriented coach, is even worried about that possibility.

"We just have to do what we can do," Berus said. "Everything else will work itself out."

Spencer White