CISCO — There were dozens of mousetraps around the Tyler Junior College field house this week.
The school doesn’t have a rodent problem, but Apaches football coach Danny Palmer was trying to send a message — TJC’s game with Cisco is a trap game.
The Apaches, ranked No. 4 in the nation with a 6-0 record, are coming off a huge win over then-No. 8 Navarro; and just around the corner are rivalry games with Trinity Valley (Oct. 19 in Athens) and Kilgore (Oct. 26 in Tyler).
Stuck in between are the 1-4 Cisco Wranglers, a team Tyler defeated 84-28 last year.
Palmer had the mousetraps in lockers, in the weight room — anywhere to try and get his message across.
On Saturday, he will find out if it worked.
The Apaches, 3-0 in Southwest Junior College Football Conference play, meet the Wranglers (0-3) at Chesley Field. Kickoff is 7 p.m.
“Don’t go for the bait,” Palmer said, “but that doesn’t guarantee you will win. I respect Scott Taylor (Cisco coach). This feels a little like 2010. We were on a good roll. We had just beaten Trinity Valley. We felt good; we go in there and they ambush us (lost 21-3) and took everything away from us. That game kept us out of the playoffs.”
Airron Cowthran, a sophomore running back from Dallas Adamson, led the Wranglers last week in a 43-10 win over Southeast Prep. He rushed for 120 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries.
Defensively, linebacker Colt Robinson paced Cisco. The sophomore from Waller had a career-high 19 tackles against the Spartans.
The Apaches are hopeful their defensive improvement continues. They had one of their best games, a 17-10 win over Navarro last week.
“I thought their effort — now they didn’t play perfect, but their defensive effort was excellent,” Palmer said.
Caleb Tuiasosopo, a sophomore linebacker from Copperas Cove, led the unit with 12 tackles and also broke up two passes.
Offensively, Leroy Dobbins led the Apaches with his fifth straight 100-yard game. He rushed for 169 yards and a TD on 25 carries. In the five games Dobbins has played (he missed the SE Prep game due to injury), he has accumulated 706 yards and scored five touchdowns on 90 attempts. He is averaging 141.2 yards per game.
SMOKE SIGNALS: The Apaches stay on the road Oct. 19, taking on Trinity Valley Community College in Athens. Kickoff will be 3 p.m. at Bruce Field. … Cisco will travel to Northeastern Oklahoma A&M the same day, a 2 p.m. start in Miami, Okla.