JONESBORO — Jonesboro’s football team has been proving people wrong all season.
The Eagles were picked to finish second in their district by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine. Then starting in late October, Jonesboro mercy-ruled every district opponent to win the title.
After that performance, one would think the naysayers might change their tune. Instead, the prognosticators didn’t think the Eagles would last long in the playoffs. Over the last five weeks, Jonesboro has continued to prove them wrong with wins over Lometa (64-14), Bryson (72-58), May (57-50) and Tioga (83-56).
Now, the Eagles are back in the state championship game for the second consecutive year.
“I think they’ve used that as motivation all year,” Jonesboro offensive coordinator Matt Dossey said. “I think it really inspired them to come out and play a style of football that’s a never quit mentality. It’s just a hard-nosed and gritty type of mentality on the field. They’re great kids.”
With Jonesboro getting ready for its 11 a.m. Wednesday kickoff at AT&T Stadium in the 1A Div. I state championship game, the naysayers are still out there as the Eagles are set to, once again, take on Borden County. Jonesboro fell to the Coyotes, 60-12, in the state final a year ago.
“Borden County is extremely talented,” Dossey said. “We have nothing but the utmost respect for those guys, for sure. (Last year) was the first time in the history of the school that we’d ever made it to the state championship game. So this year, I think the little bit of experience going back will certainly, experience is a great teacher.
“For us, it’s been a very good thing for us. I think we have a chance to capitalize on some of that previous experience and maybe play a little bit better, hopefully. That’s what our goal is.”
While those outside the program are still learning what this Eagle squad is capable of, the Jonesboro coaches got a good glimpse of its potential in early November. The Eagles were playing at Zephyr, the team picked to win district.
And Jonesboro came out and popped the Bulldogs for a 30-6 advantage after the first quarter before winning by mercy-rule, 60-12. Wyatt Young, Ethan Lilljedahl and Payton Merx each rushed for a pair of touchdowns in the contest.
“We went over there and it was the first game we played, what I call, a clean game,” Dossey said. “Penalties were limited. We didn’t turn the ball over. We knew our assignments inside and out. The focus was there. We (mercy-ruled) them the second possession of the third quarter. At that point I thought we had something here. The kids have matured. They’ve grown up. We only had four kids who had a lot of experience coming back. So these other ones have grown up during the year. I thought we actually had a shot at making a run at this thing at that point.”
Since then, Jonesboro has outscored its opponents, 330-186. And with each Eagle postseason win, the rematch with defending champ Borden County became more inevitable as the Coyotes have dominated all season long.
“It’s been an unbelievable experience,” Dossey said. “To be picked second in our district and then find a way to get back to this point has just been a very rewarding experience. The kids have done far more than we could have ever expected. They give us everything they have every day. Just really proud of them and their accomplishments this year.”
The story of Mart head coach Kevin Hoffman and offensive coordinator Steve Burrow stretches the boundaries of Central Texas and beyond.