If one thing can buoy the spirits of a team that struggled through non-district play, it's the reality that a strong run through district can give it new life in the playoffs.
Buena Vista and Iraan both open three-game district schedules Friday, Oct. 25 hoping to but the first seven weeks of the 2019 season in the rear-view mirror. Both teams are coming off an open week in the schedule.
Buena Vista went 2-5, beating West Texas Home School in Week 1 and again in Week 7. In between we one-sided loses to Sterling City, Rankin, Garden City, Klondike and Marfa. Competing in six-man football, the Longhorns have less than 10 players on a team dominated by freshmen.
They enter 1A-2 District 5 against Sanderson at home, before traveling to Grandfalls on Nov. 1 and hosting Sierra Blanca Nov. 8. The district usually includes Dell City, which this year did not field a varsity team. Dell City's absence has meant the other district teams already have one or two district games in, while Buena Vista is playing its first.
In six-man football, only the top two teams in district advance. Two wins puts a team in.
Sanderson comes in with a 1-1 record in district and a 3-3 mark overall. Sanderson lost to Grandfalls 67-34 on Oct. 11 and beat Sierra Blanca 54-8 last week.
Friday's game against the Longhorns will close its district slate. Sanderson will play Irion County on Nov. 1 in a non-district matchup.
A win over Sanderson would take some pressure off Buena Vista in not making the matchup against defending district champ Grandfalls a must-win game.
The Braves are struggling through a season of historic proportion for a school just four seasons removed from the state championship game.
Iraan isn't just 0-7. They have been outscored 369 to 38. Of even bigger concern is the number of players it has amid a downturn in enrollment. The team started the season with 16 players. It fielded 13 for its last game – and finished that game win just 10 players on the field.
Iraan has not gone winless since consecutive 0-10 season in 1961-62. With a playoff berth assured, the Braves could set a new mark at 0-11 unless they can find a way to win.
The team's last one-win season came in 1979. This year will be the school's first with a losing record since a 3-7 campaign in 1988.
The Braves open 2A-2 District 1 play at Wink Friday, then hosts McCamey before closing the regular season on the road at Van Horn.
Unlike Buena Vista, Iraan is already assured a spot in the playoffs due the top four teams in a district earning a berth.
However, moving out of the cellar would avoid a first-round matchup with the No. 1 seed in the bi-district round.
Wink comes in with a 4-3 record. Wink beat Tornillo 47-0 in its last game, and has won three in a row.
Wink and Iraan had common non-district opponents in Coahoma (Coahoma 55-22 over Wink, and 48-0 over Iraan) and Alpine (Alpine 30-13 over Wink; 52-6 over Iraan).
Van Horn has a 3-4 record, while defending champion McCamey is 2-5.