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Longhorns host Kingston in pivotal district matchup

Beau Bearden
bbearden@gannett.com

Take away a last-minute opponent and the Lone Grove High School football team could easily enter its second district game with an undefeated record. But that doesn’t matter now as the Longhorns are focused on what does — a crucial home matchup against Kingston at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2.

“We just have to go out and play flawless football,” said Lone Grove head coach Brad O’Steen. “… We have to make sure we just continue to get better and focus on the task at hand — and that’s taking care of Kingston.”

The Redskins have yet to lose a game this year and a lot of that has to do with Jase Hayes. The senior quarterback has thrown for 448 yards and six touchdowns, while adding 77 yards and five scores on the ground.

Hayes’ numbers have been plenty to help his squad rack up four straight wins, but the Longhorns know he’s not the only one who can do damage.

“(Kingston is) a heavy run team,” O’Steen said. “They run a lot of play-action, bootleg-type stuff.”

Hayes has shown he likes to escape the pocket on play-action plays, but he can also turn to others. Brandon Watson leads the rushing attack with 336 yards and a touchdown, while fullback Matthew Flesher has racked up 272 yards and five scores.

Lone Grove knows it needs to watch the duo, but miscues could also prove costly as Kingston capitalized on that in last week’s 49-14 victory over Plainview.

“We’ve been really concentrating on not turning the ball over,” O’Steen said. “And making great decisions and taking care of the ball.”

However, the Longhorns might not have to worry about that if they find success on offense. Jace Brandenburg has been unstoppable in his past two games under center — accounting for 10 touchdowns in two blowout wins.

The senior quarterback threw for 300 yards and four touchdowns against Pauls Valley on Sept. 25 and added five passing and one rushing score against Comanche on Sept. 18.

“The offensive line did a great job protecting him,” O’Steen said of Brandenburg’s performance against Pauls Valley. “He didn’t get sacked and the receivers did a great job of running good routes and catching the football. It takes everybody doing their part.”

And that includes the rushing attack, which was highlighted by Cooper Robinson’s 150 yards and two touchdowns last week. The senior running back has played a big role for Lone Grove and that won’t change as the squad looks for its third straight victory.

“If you’re a complete football team, they have to defend both,” O’Steen said. “If you can run and pass, it makes people defend the whole field and it sure stretches the defense out.”