PARIS, Texas—The golden playoff road starts with one small swirl and may carry a team all the way to the fabled championship city.
Pleasant Grove takes its first step in defending its Class 4A, Division II state title as they take on Dallas Roosevelt in a Class 4A, Division II bi-district playoff game at 7 p.m. today at Paris' Wildcat Stadium.
"Roosevelt is athletic, but they have struggled this year," Hawks' head coach Josh Gibson said. "We take the same approach every week of the season. We want to give our best effort and grow each week."
The Mustangs (5-5, 2-3) finished fourth in District 5-4A. Roosevelt has scored 38.4 points per game and given up 28.4.
The Hawks are district champions after posting a perfect 4-0 record in District 6-4A. Pleasant Grove finished the regular season at 8-2, with each of its two losses coming at a 7-point margin. The Hawks score an average of 35.4 points and give up just 18.9.
"I think our team is getting better and better," Gibson said. "We had a lot of starters to replace and didn't have a lot of experience to start the season. However, our guys have played really well."
Pleasant Grove quarterback Ben Harmon has thrown for 1,232 yards on 60-of-112 passing and 18 touchdowns. He has thrown just two interceptions and rushed for 326 yards with nine TDs.
Bruce Garrett leads the Hawks in rushing with 1,041 yards on 154 totes and 10 scores, while teammate James Wiggins has racked up 828 yards on 128 carries and six visits to the end zone.
Tyler Kelley, who has 55 tackles on the season, and Kamren Woods each have five interceptions, and Ryan Pickelman has made four picks for Pleasant Grove.
Bladen Reaves leads the Hawks in tackles with 85, followed by Nick Martin with 69 and Caleb Hemphill with 64.
"The atmosphere will be awesome," Gibson said. "We have great community support, and a lot of people jumped on the bandwagon last year. After winning state last year and playing really well, I believe we will have a bigger and better following this year. We are looking forward to it."
The winner will play either Bullard or Waco Connally in the Class 4A, Division II area playoff at Royse City ISD Stadium. The game is set for 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 23.