By Todd Wills
Corsicana Daily Sun
One thing is certain in Frost — Friday night’s showdown against the Hubbard Jagaurs is the biggest football game to be played in Polar Bear Nation in over a decade.
Most of that has to do with Frost’s historic 6-0 star, the deepest the Bears have venturned into a season undefeated since their 10-0 regular season in 1998. The rest is because Hubbard (4-2) was picked to win the District 9-1A DII title after it’s own historic turnaround last year from 0-10 to a 9-3 playoff season.
It should make for an entertaining Friday night in Frost.
“I expect it to be pretty good around here,” Frost coach Eric Blenden said. “Our last game, homecoming, we had a huge turnout. The community has come through and gotten behind these young men. Hubbard always travels well. It should be a great atmosphere.”
Frost has lived up to Dave Campbell’s Texas Football preseason prediction that the Polar Bears would make the playoffs for the first time since 2001. Frost has outscored its opponents by an average of 38-13 this season. The Polar Bears had their toughest game of non-district last week, getting past Perrin-Whitt on the road, 27-21.
Blenden thought it was just what the Polar Bears needed to get ready for a physical Hubbard team.
“Friday was a great game,” Blenden said. “It was physical. It was a great warmup for us because we’re about to play the most physical team in district.
“Being 6-0 is great, but now we’re back to 0-0. It doesn’t mean anything now.”
It does mean something to still be unbeaten in mid-October. Hubbard coach Craig Horn expects a confident Frost team, one that can run the ball and mix in the pass when you get focused in on Polar Bears tailback Danial Steels, who has 851 yards, and his sidekicks Robert Worley and Woody Woods, who have combined for 955 yards.
Their presence opens things up for quarterback Jacob Stroder, who has passed for 377 yards and five touchdowns.
“They do a better job on the offensive line than in years past,” Horn said. “I’ve been impressed with Stroder. He’s playing at a different gear than the people they’re playing.”
Frost won’t fall asleep on Hubbard, Blenden said. The Jaguars have played a difficult non-district schedule that includes wins over Italy and Kerens, and losses to No. 8 Bosqueville and playoff regular Valley Mills.
Hubbard can be physical on offense and the Jaguar defense can fly to the ball led by linebacker Jordan Johnson, who has 80 tackles.
“That guy is around the ball all day long,” Blenden said. “He’s the best football player in the district. And they have so much speed in the secondary. We have to maintain blocks.”
The x-factor for Hubbard is the availability of tailback Bradley Walker, who has played sparingly since suffering a high ankle sprain early in the season. The Jaguars are open next week and look like a sure playoff team even if they lose to Frost. So Horn could lean toward limiting Walker’s touches.
Hubbard showed last week it can win with a power running game as fullback Trey Henderson, who has 834 yards, and the shifty Logan McClinton ran the ball effectively in a 24-8 win over Kerens.
Quarterback Casen Martin also is an effective passer with quality receivers in D’Warren Simmons and Casey Jones.
“We’ve been rocking on like this since Rice, not at full strength,” Horn said. “If Brad can go, that changes things. Instead of scoring in the 20s and 30s, we can score in 50s and 60s.”
Frost is well aware that Walker would make an impact Friday night.
“He’s one of those guys that can take the pitch from everywhere on the field and go for six in a hurry,” Blenden said. “They have more threats than Walker but he’s one of those game-changers that we have to be aware of all the time.”
Whoever gets the ball Friday, it should be an entertaining game. Potentially a high-scoring game.
Hubbard, which was supposed to waltz through district, has respect for what Frost has done so far this season, Horn said.
“They’re the best team we play this week so we’re taking them seriously,” Horn said. “Dead serious as a matter of a fact. We’re going into this game like it is Chilton or Bremond.”