NORTH RICHLAND HILLS — A taxing season and a physical loss on the final week have left Grace Community a little banged up.

Quarterback Blake White thinks that just makes the Cougars all the more dangerous.

Grace takes on Fort Worth Christian at 7 p.m. from Barrow Field tonight in the first round of the TAPPS Division II playoffs, and injuries to a few key players haven't damped the Cougars' confidence.

"We know we're going to be a hard team to beat," White said. "When your back's against the wall that's when you're most dangerous."

Star running back Kade Clayton and all-state lineman Josh Boylan are among the walking wounded following a tough loss to Dallas Parish Episcopal last week. But Grace is rallying around the back-against-the-wall mentality and hopes to get a little revenge in the process.

If the Cougars (8-2) beat the Cardinals (7-3), who knocked Grace out of the 2010 playoffs, they'll get another shot at Dallas Christian, which gave Grace its worst loss of the year.

"It definitely motivates; it motivates a lot," White said of the chance to pay back Fort Worth Christian, which ended his brother's senior season.

The Cardinals finished second in TAPPS D-II District 1 thanks to a defense allowing 18.3 points per game.

"They're very good defensively," Grace coach Mike Maddox said. "They may be the best defensive team we've faced all year. They're just so solid at all positions. Their defensive tackles are really good at what they do."

In comparison, the Cougars are giving up 22.8 points per game and are coming off a 63-42 loss.

Maddox said the Cardinals like to spread you out and run out of a base Wing T offense. They average about 200 yards per game rushing and 50 through the air, scoring 23.8 points per game.

Grace will hope to run its high-powered offense against Fort Worth Christian despite the injuries. The Cougars have one of the area's top offenses and put up more than 500 yards and 47 points per game.

"They're going to play hard at their place," Maddox said. "And we're going to have to bring one of our best games of the season."



When it comes to the postseason, Bullard Brook Hill and Midland Christian have plenty of expertise; both teams won state championships last year at Division III and Division II, respectively.

Today in Midland, at least one side will taste postseason defeat for the first time since 2010.

The Guard (6-4) travel to Midland to play the Mustangs (9-1) in the opening round of the TAPPS Division II playoffs after Brook Hill moved up a division from last year. Kickoff is 7 p.m. at Mustang Field.

Guard coach Terry Pirtle likened the matchup to any of the games Brook Hill played against the top three teams in its district. The Guard lost to Dallas Christian (first place), Parish Episcopal (second) and Grace (third) by a combined 122-26 during a brutal three-week stretch.

"We're going to have to overcome some adversity," Pirtle said. "It will be a good learning experience."

Brook Hill faces a balanced offense that runs for 187 yards per game and throws for 215.

However, the Mustangs are without star running back Christian Whigham, who had run for 835 yards and 17 touchdowns in seven games this year. According to the Midland Reporter-Telegram, the school's career leader in rushing yards (4,634), carries (560) and rushing touchdowns (80), is out for the year with a knee injury.

Midland Christian averaged 209 yards rushing with Whigham, but 113 since his injury.

"They don't fall off too much," Pirtle said of the Mustangs without their stud. "Seems like they're doing the same stuff, they're just doing it with a different person. It's still going to be our job to stop their offense."

Last week in a shootout win, Brook Hill won the turnover battle 5-1. The Guard hope to get a similar performance out of their defense today.

"We're going to have to play real good on defense, obviously," Pirtle said, "Get off the field and see what their punter looks like a few times and play really good offense. It'll be a very difficult game but one we're ready for."


Friday's Capsules:

Grace Community Cougars at Fort Worth Christian Cardinals

What: TAPPS Division II Area Playoff

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Where: Barrow Field, North Richland Hills

Records: Grace 8-2; FW Christian 7-3

2011 Result: Did not play

Last Week's Results: Dallas Parish Episcopal 63, Grace 42; FW Christian 17, Fort Worth Southwest Christian 14.

Players To Watch:Grace — OL Jacob Wadle, DL Grant McCarty, OLD Grant Rook. FW Christian — RB Jared Taylor, QB Chase Hamilton, RB Bomani Carter.

Quick Slant: These two teams met in a 44-38 classic in 2010, though the Cougars won't remember it fondly. Down 2 with 2:24 to play, the Cardinals forced a fumble and scored the game winner in an area playoff at Clyde-Perkins Stadium. This time Grace wants to win on FW Christian's home field. The one common opponent between the two was Dallas Christian; Grace lost 49-7 to the Chargers while FW Christian lost 41-7 the week prior. The winner of this game likely gets Dallas Christian in the regional round.

Who's Next?: Winner vs. Dallas Christian-Arlington Grace Prep winner.


Bullard Brook Hill Guard at Midland Christian Mustangs

What: TAPPS Division II Area Playoff

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Herrington Stadium

Records: Brook Hill 6-4; Midland Christian 9-1

2011 Result: Did not play

Last Week's Results: Brook Hill 66, Carrollton Prince of Peace 44; Midland Christian 46, Waco Reicher 21

Players To Watch:Brook Hill — QB Will Weathers, OL/DL Mason Dickey, RB T.J. Dunks. Midland Christian — QB Mason McClendon, RB Jade Tamplin, WR Jared Koym.

Quick Slant: Both the Guard and Mustangs are defending state champs, meeting this year in the first round. Midland Christian isn't quite the juggernaut it was last year with a season-ending injury to star running back Christian Whigham and Brook Hill graduated 18 seniors from its title-winning team. The Mustangs will have an advantage playing at home while the Guard travel nearly eight hours over two days to play the game.

Who's Next?: Winner vs. Waco Reicher-Dallas Parish Episcopal winner.


Recent Stories You Might Have Missed