GREGORY-PORTLAND, TX — Friday night our Marquee Matchup will determine the district champion. It's a rivalry between the Flour Bluff Hornets (6-3, 4-0) and Gregory-Portland (7-2, 4-0).
"This I've been waiting for since last year," said Joshua Villela, Gregory-Portland senior defensive tackle and right guard. "Been waiting for this game. Been waiting to just give it our all."
The Flour Bluff Hornets and Gregory-Portland Wildcats are the top two teams in 5A-DII District 15. Both defenses have recorded two district shutouts. On offense, both teams start sophomore quarterbacks and they're confident in the talent around them.
Wildcats' sophomore quarterback Reed Dooms gains a momentum boost from his running back Dalvin Batts who has rushed for 1,058 yards, and that opens the field for his other teammates.
"My o-line does a great job protecting me and when you got receivers like Colton Harrison, Ross Dubose and Carmello Catalono," said Dooms. "They're always open and makes my job easy."
The Hornets are led by sophomore quarterback Jayden 'J.J.' Paluseo. After nine games played, Flour Bluff has 1,627 passing yards and 1,339 rushing yards.
"Couldn't ask for a better o-line," said Paluseo. "I'm not worried that they won't be able to do the job, so I have full confidence in them."
Paluseo's favorite targets are sophomore Cameran Dickson, senior Kyler Meschi and senior Wyatt Elwood.
"We've been saying that his throw accuracy is good," said Jacob Quiroga, Flour Bluff senior center. "We got this. We're going to protect him. He's not going to get hit any game."
This is a game fans in the stands will not want to miss. Last year in October Gregory-Portland won by 10 points and then in the third round of playoffs Flour Bluff battled back winning 47-44.
"We can't sleep on them. We have to keep going 100 percent every play," said Villela. "Don't take plays off and that's what it came down to last game."
Last year's outcome was decided by a game-winning 27-yard field goal by Hornets' Kyler Meschi.
"Full of confidence with him," said Paluseo. "I know if we get inside the 40-yard line I know we can at least put 3 on the board, so very grateful to have him."
G-P has come a long way after losing senior quarterback Brandon Redden to an injury week one, but he did not let that stop him from making an inspirational recovery. Redden has taken a few snaps the past two games.
"He's been there the entire time on the sideline," said Dooms. "After every drive he'd come and talk to me and tell me what I'm doing right and what I'm doing wrong. Just helping me out, giving me teaching points and being a great leader."
Our Friday Night Fever week 11 Marquee Matchup kicks off at 7 p.m. at Ray Akins Wildcat Stadium.
— Larissa Liska (@LarissaLiska) November 2, 2022