Let the playoffs begin.
Tyler Junior College’s quest for the Southwest Junior College Football Conference Championship begins on Saturday as the No. 2 seeded Apaches (8-1) play host to No. 3 seed Navarro (7-2) at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium.
Kickoff for the semifinal contest is 3 p.m. on Earl Campbell Field.
Tickets are $5 (reserved) and $3 (general admission).
The other semifinal has No. 1 seed Trinity Valley (7-2) taking on No. 4 Blinn (4-5), also at 3 p.m. Saturday at Bruce Field in Athens.
The semifinal winners advance to the conference championship game next week at the highest remaining seed. Also, the semifinal winners are assured of a bowl bid.
The Apaches moved up one spot to No. 6 in the national rankings, which were released on Tuesday. TJC, seventh last week, jumped to sixth after Scottsdale (Ariz.) (7-1) had a bye.
Georgia Military (9-0) is still No. 1, followed by East Mississippi (9-0), Iowa Western (9-1), Jones County (Miss.) (8-1) and Mississippi Gulf Coast (8-1).
Trinity Valley stayed at No. 10, while Navarro dropped from No. 14 to 15.
TJC clinched a share of the league championship with TVCC after a 42-12 win over rival Kilgore College last week. Both teams finished 5-1, but the Cardinals — by virtue of their win over Tyler — are the No. 1 seeds.
The Apaches won despite six turnovers (five fumbles, an interception) against KC.
“We can’t continue to turn the ball over if we want to be successful,” TJC coach Danny Palmer said. “The defense has improved each week and they helped us overcome those turnovers against Kilgore.”
Palmer said all the Apaches are healthy and will play on Saturday, including running back Leroy Dobbins, who was held out of the game with Kilgore.
Along with football, it is playoff time for the nationally ranked TJC soccer squads.
Both the Apaches, defending national champions and ranked No. 3 in the nation, and the Apache Ladies, ranked No. 4, begin play in the Region XIV Tournament this week.
The Apache Ladies (15-2-1) take on Paris (13-3-1) at 5 p.m. Thursday at Pat Hartley Soccer Complex. The winner will advance to the regional championship on Sunday against either No. 1 Navarro (12-3-1) or Jacksonville (5-10).
Paris is coming off a 3-2 upset win over Navarro on Monday. Thus, TJC and Navarro tied for the regular season title at 6-1-1. However, if Navarro beats Jacksonville, the Lady Bulldogs will host on Sunday thanks to their 1-0-1 record with Tyler.
The regional champion advances to the District I Tournament, which will be hosted by the Region V winner Nov. 8-9. The district champion advances to the NJCAA National Tournament Nov. 18-23 in Melbourne, Fla.
The Apaches (14-2) will meet the winner of the Paris-Jacksonville game at 7 p.m. Friday at Pat Hartley Field. The other semifinal has No. 2 San Jacinto hosting either Coastal Bend or Northeast Texas.
The winners of semifinal matches will not play each other, as both will qualify for the South District Tournament. The tourney will be held in Mississippi on Nov. 8-9.
The district winner advances to the NJCAA National Tournament on Nov. 18-23 in Tyler.
The Apaches and Apache Ladies get their basketball seasons underway this weekend.
The Apaches, under coach Mike Marquis, open their season with the Jimmy Butler Classic on Friday and Saturday at Wagstaff Gymnasium. The Classic is named after the former Apache and current Chicago Bull.
On Friday, the first game has Cranium Academy taking on Southwestern Christian College at 5:30 p.m. with TJC facing Brookhaven at 7:30 p.m.
On Saturday, Cranium Academy faces Brookhaven at 2 p.m., followed by TJC and SW Christian at 4 p.m.
The Apache Ladies, under coach Trenia Tillis Jones, not only begin their season on Saturday, but it is also a conference game. TJC travels to Beeville to meet new league member Coastal Bend. Tipoff is 2 p.m.
The home opener for the Apache Ladies is 5:30 p.m. Monday against Cisco.