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Panthers, Mustangs meet in showdown that matters

It’s a streak that goes back six years. For Grapevine football fans, it may feel like 66 years.

Colleyville Heritage’s dominance of its Grapevine-Colleyville ISD rival has reached a point where this fan base could be changing the question from “Will they?” to “Can they?”

Hope is eternal every year. If there was ever a year where the Mustangs have a chance to finally end the frustration, this would be the year. The Mustangs (6-1, 3-1 8-5A) meet the Panthers (5-2, 4-0) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Mustang-Panther Stadium. Colleyville Heritage has won the last six meetings going back to 2010. Grapevine last won in 2009, 26-23.

This meeting has more at stake than the previous two, when they were in different classifications. There are district championship implications.

“For us, it’s business as usual,” Colleyville Heritage coach Joe Willis said. “We’ve played some pretty tough games against Aledo and Euless Trinity. It’s going to be hard to under-hype games like this. We understand the importance of a big game. That’s where you want your program to be.”

Despite a tough 38-35 loss to Richland last week, the Mustangs were resilient. Trailing 35-14 early in the third quarter, Grapevine rallied and had the ball late in the fourth quarter with a chance to tie or take the lead. A couple of costly mistakes dug too deep a hole.

“Maybe our schedule [leading up to the game] hurt us a little bit,” Grapevine coach Randy Jackson said. “If you lose a game, that’s one thing. We can fix the mistakes. I really liked our heart and mental toughness to fight back.”

In previous meetings, the Mustangs didn’t have the offense to match the Panthers. Now, they do. Grapevine has scored at least 29 points in each of its first seven games. Quarterback Alan Bowman has a triple receiving threat between David Clayton, Zach Carnes and Dylan Gonzalez. They have combined for 74 receptions with 27, 24 and 23 respectively. Bowman has taken care of the ball with only two interceptions.

Colleyville Heritage’s passing game has always been dangerous, with arguably the best pitch-and-catch combination between quarterback Cam Roane and wide receiver Ke’Von Ahmad. Roane has thrown only one interception. Ahmad is averaging nearly 20 yards per reception. There is also the emergence of Kam Brown, who is at 14.4 yards per catch. Those two have combined for 57 receptions. However, this team is likely without its third option in Connor Cole, who was injured in the Birdville game. Still, that offers the likes of Germon Thothian to fill in.

This is a game that will be decided on which team’s defensive line can create the greatest impact. Willis likes the depth that has been created throughout the course of the season, led by Nick Clark.

Grapevine’s front has been pretty consistent for all but one half. But when you have a state champion wrestler at nose tackle in Brian Andrews, that’s always a good safety net.

“You have a quarterback and some receivers who are as good as they have in 5A,” Jackson said. “But our job is the same. We have to move the quarterback out of what he likes do and make it uncomfortable.”

Carroll update: The Dragons (6-1, 4-0 District 5-6A) would clinch a playoff spot with a victory over Northwest Byron Nelson at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Dragon Stadium. They are a little banged up after their 33-21 win over Flower Mound Marcus.

Wide receiver Robert Barnes suffered a mouth injury but should return. Quarterback Mason Holmes hobbled to the finish with a leg injury. His status for Friday will be determined later in the week. The defense was also missing three members of the secondary that included Barnes, Barrett Buck and R.J. Mickens.

“It’s one of our biggest wins in a while, because of who we were missing, and we were still able to dominate the fourth quarter (16-0),” head coach Hal Wasson said.

But the running game received a boost with the emergence of Tre Sledge.

“We have a competition back there,” Wasson said of Sledge and starter Audricke Gaines.

NOTE: Carroll’s game against Nelson can be heard on KWRD 100.7 FM with the pregame show starting at 6:30 p.m.

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