Rockwall did Robert E. Lee a favor last week.
The Red Raiders hope the Yellowjackets are equally as generous on Friday.
Lee and Rockwall clash in a must-win game for both teams at 7:30 p.m. at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium.
REL could've been in a difficult spot in the district race after dropping its District 12-5A opener to North Mesquite, but Rockwall defeating the Stallions last week leaves a logjam of four teams with one league victory.
The Red Raiders (1-5, 0-2) can join that group if they achieve a homecoming victory over Rockwall (2-5, 1-2). Lee hasn't played a game in almost 14 days as it looks to reclaim its season.
To do that, Lee needs to put one in the win column.
"The kids practiced well this week, but it's all about taking it out there on Friday night and overcoming adversity, staying focused and getting it done," Lee coach Darrell Piske said.
Piske stressed the start of the game as being important for the Red Raiders.
Lee has fallen behind in four of their six games this season. The two times the Red Raiders began on the front foot produced the more promising results.
REL took the lead against Sulphur Springs and eventually lost in overtime with Lee doing the same in its lone victory this season over Texas High.
Turnovers have also slowed the Red Raiders. In the loss against North Mesquite, Lee lost three fumbles and had two interceptions. In six games, Lee has turned the ball over 14 times (eight fumbles, six interceptions).
On the flip side, in two district games the Red Raiders have not forced a turnover.
"Anytime you turn the ball over you put yourself (in a bind)," Piske said. "You have to be a whole lot better than the other team to turn it over five times and win. We can't afford that. Off and on all year that has hurt us."
The Red Raiders running game received a second-half boost last week thanks to the continued emergence senior Le Terrance Simmons racking up 75 of his final 86 yards in the third and fourth quarters, along with a touchdown. It gives Simmons 199 yards and two touchdowns, nearly all of that coming in REL's last two games.
Rockwall is giving up 232 yards rushing per game and has allowed 19 rushing touchdowns.
Piske said Simmons has earned more opportunities and he expects to use him, Marcus White and LaQuintas Wallace in a rotation with Simmons now the starting tailback.
"Le Terrance shows up every day and it doesn't matter if you ask him to block, run the ball, catch or whatever," Piske continued. "He goes hard (every time) and those are the kinds of guys you can win with.
"Between him, Marcus White and our other guys, they'll be able to (produce) the whole game."
Lee has passed for 75 yards and 100 yards in two district games. Raleigh Poster threw interceptions on two of his first four pass attempts, but then completed 10 of his next 17 passes for 85 yards. Piske hopes REL can take advantage of a Rockwall team allowing 205 yards passing per game with 13 touchdowns, but added it depends on Lee's running game.
"We've got to be a play-action kind of deal; we are not a spread type of team where we throw the ball everywhere even though it would be great if we were," Piske continued. "But here lately our run game hasn't been very good, so if you play-action pass they are not (biting up) because they are not respecting our run game."
REL's defense must contend with a Rockwall offense that is very effective running the ball (230 per game, 17 touchdowns) and will catch teams with big plays in the passing game (833 yards total, two touchdowns).
Leading the way for the Yellowjackets is sophomore tailback Chris Warren, who has rushed for 779 yards and is averaging 6.83 yards per carry with 11 touchdowns.
"He's everything you would want in a running back," Piske said of Warren. "He's got good enough speed to go to the house when he gets the opportunity, but he's just a physical runner. In the game we watched in person I don't think they ever stopped him for no gain. The rest of the time he is going to end up with positive yards."
Piske said that makes gang tackling and wrapping up paramount for Lee this week if they are to try and contain Warren.
"We've got to get a lot of people there and don't assume the guy in front of you is going to make the tackle because he's probably going to break that one," Piske said.
The Red Raiders and Yellowjackets have not met on the gridiron since 2005, the last time the two were district foes. That game, which Lee lost 21-14 at Rockwall, ended up looming large with the Red Raiders eventually falling short of making the playoffs a year after winning a state title.
This game is similarly important to the district race with Lee needing a victory to keep its hopes of nabbing one of four playoff spots in their seven-team district.
"It's really just making your mind up that you are going to win the game and then going out there and doing it," Piske said. "Really we need to play and tackle and do all of that with our heart. When you play the game you're going to be out-athleted sometimes, but if I block and I tackle and I run and I do it with my heart on every play; the heart usually wins the battles."
Probable Starting Lineups
ROCKWALL (Spread) — QB 10 Dylan Campman (Sr.), RB 1 Zach Berryman (Sr.), RB 25 Chris Warren (Soph.), WR 22 Xavier Castille (Soph.), WR 28 Curtis Turner (Sr.), TE 46 Jeff Dorsey (Sr.), LT 53 Christian Crook (Sr.), LG 54 Brian Lorts (Sr.), C 66 Hayden Harper (Jr.), RG 77 Amine Elhaili (Sr.), RT 72 Austin Hatten (Jr.).
ROBERT E. LEE (Multiple) — QB 12 Raleigh Poster (6-0, 175, Jr.); RB 23 Le Terrance Simmons (Sr.); FB 5 Marcus White (5-6, 185, Sr.); WR 10 Cedric Brown (5-10, 170, Sr.); WR 22 Bryce Wilkerson (5-7, 144, Jr.), TE 87 Matthew Weeks (6-4, 250, So.), LT 77 Zacchaeus Page (6-4, 280, Sr.), LG 74 Ryan Rendon (6-1, 255, Jr.); C 64 Josh Wyscarver-Smith (6-1,240, Sr.); RG 75 Lane Haeger (6-2, 240, Sr.); RT 71 Ian Chase (6-4, 305, Sr.), K 37 Lumi Kaba (Sr.).
ROCKWALL (4-3) — DE 11 Luke Termin (Fr.), DT 61 Cameron Defebaugh (Sr.), DT 62 Matt Akins (Sr.), DE 44 Chris Hinckley (Jr.), OLB 33 Nehemiah Solis (Sr.), ILB 29 Jared Farrow (Sr.), ILB 47 Josh Rippy (Jr.), OLB 31 Daniel Roland (Sr.), CB 5 Barron Black (Sr.), S 35 Sean Hardenbrook (Sr.), CB 9 John Wright (Soph.).
ROBERT E. LEE (3-4) — DE 29 Etim Asangansi (5-10, 230, Jr.); NT 90 Triston Taylor (6-1, 290, Jr.); DE 99 Delkei Derrett (6-1, 245, Sr.); SLB 44 C.J. Thompson (6-0, 225, Sr.); WLB 47 Roderick Gaines (So.); SS 35 Deontay Walker (6-1, 215, Sr.); Bandit LB 14 Spencer Borah (Sr.); S 11 Jay Roberson (6-2, 160, Sr.); FS 15 Rezzin Pullum (5-10, 175, Sr.); CB 3 Davier Harris (5-10, 155, Sr.); CB 8 Bryce Stewart (6-1, 175, Sr.). P 37 Lumi Kaba (Sr.)