However, a grinding offense and a bend but don’t break defense helped Palmer rest assured that week 7’s outcome would not repeat itself.
“I told the kids at halftime to not let up, never be satisfied, and this game will not end up like Dilley,” Palmer said. “The boys responded, and we came out with the victory.”
The Bulldogs racked up 363 offensive yards en route to a 28 – 14 victory at Wildcat Stadium in Elgin, Texas.
The Bulldog rushing attack was led by junior Wes Guzman and Senior Troy Chowns, which combined for 303 yards on the ground.
“They played fantastic,” Palmer said. “Wes was very explosive on his runs and Troy was able to find his way through the line and get some tough yards.”
The thunder and lightning duo each netted two touchdowns apiece and made big runs on key downs.
Guzman’s quickness led the pair with 184 yards on 19 carries and dashed for gains of 28, 43, and touchdowns from 15 and 45 yards. Chowns grind it style picked up 119 yards on 23 carries and scores from eight and eleven yards.
Palmer was also pleased with how his team controlled the ball and were able to overcome two turnovers in the game.
Even when the Bluecats opened the second half with a score, the Bulldogs never panicked, held their ground and shut Coleman out for the remainder of the game. The Bulldogs also held the Bluecats to 233 total offense, and forced three turnovers in the win.
Three Rivers was anchored by linebackers Junior Zenon Sanchez and Senior Kaleb Gee, who both combined for 32 tackles on the night. Senior Ty Brown also picked off his sixth pass of the season, right before the half.
Palmer said the many key stops and forced turnovers were a “big factor” in the win.
Additionally, Palmer believes his Junior Varsity had something to do with the victory.
“Our JV gets all the credit,” Palmer said. “They did a wonderful job all week of giving our defense a good look in practice. They kicked our Varsity’s teeth in on Monday and Tuesday and our defense learned and got better throughout the week. We were ready on Friday night because of our JV.”
The win earns the Bulldogs their fourth consecutive Bi-District title, and Palmer’s third in his three years as head coach. Palmer attributes the team’s post season success to his players and coaching staff.
“Our kids work hard, our coaches work hard, and we play physical,” Palmer said. “Our kids have worked hard in the weight room and we push for our kids to be involved all year round in multiple sports to stay tough. It’s a great accomplishment for our kids and we want more.”
The Bulldogs will face the state ranked Refugio Bobcats for the Area Championship in Sinton tomorrow. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 pm. Tickets are $6 for adults and $4 for students.
The Bobcats are undefeated on the season, are averaging 65 points per game, and recently wrapped up filming a segment for ESPN.
All of which does not phase Palmer.
“We will do our normal game preps and have to move a little faster with it being a Thursday game,” Palmer said. “They have great team speed and have good size. They will give us a great challenge.”
The Bobcats have also put up 50 plus points in all but two of their games, and set the state record for most points scored in a 91-6 stomping of Freer in week 7.
Still, Palmer is confident his team is prepared.
“They are 16, 17, and 18 year old kids just like ours. They face some of the same problems our kids face. We will be ready.”