WACO, Texas — They say District 12-6A goes through Midway High School, and it’s hard to argue that.
Since the UIL expanded to six classifications, Midway has won every district title and was undefeated in 6A district play coming into this season.
But, in Week Eight, the Panthers lost to Harker Heights, opening the door for Temple to take the crown.
Tomorrow night those two teams will battle it out for the district title in our Red Zone Game of the Week.
"Our kids are excited about this week,” Midway head coach Jeff Hulme said. “They know it's gonna be a big game and it's gonna be a big crowd. The energy and excitement there is gonna be huge."
Midway opened the season with a difficult non-district schedule, going 0-2 against Trinity and Lake Ridge.
But when district play rolled around the panthers went back to what they do best- winning district ballgames.
Led by a strong defense and solid performances by Primetime Performer nominee, running back Will Nixon, the Panthers jumped out to a 4-0 district record before losing to Heights.
Now, the Panthers have taken on a different role: the underdog. It is something they admit they are not used to, but they say they have embraced the challenge.
“I've been on varsity since sophomore year,” Midway senior defensive lineman Carson Byrd said. “I was on the state team, and we were never an underdog team, so I think it's definitely different but I think were embracing it really well.”
"Coach preaches to us all the time, ‘how are we gonna handle when things go wrong?’” Midway senior defensive lineman Braden Endsley said. “How are we gonna respond to that? I think that's what we did against Shoemaker. And I think that now that we have that momentum, we have a good roll going into this week.”
Temple, meanwhile, has won with a balanced offensive attack all season. The Wildcats boast a strong running game led by a trio of backs and a passing game that includes a top five receiver in the state.
Their success was not predictable early in the season. The Wildcats only returned eight starters from last year’s team.
Temple Head Coach Scott Stewart said he has told his team all season that they need to go 1-0 every week, and he says this week is no different.
He told us he has not even told the guys a district title is on the line.
"One thing I really appreciate about these guys is their workman's attitude,” Stewart said. “They believe in grind. They don't know any better. Sometimes, you get some old bulls and it’s hard to get them prodded and get them going. We don’t have a whole lot of three-year starters, not a lot of returners, so this has been a really exciting group. Again, it comes with its challenges, but I've been really proud of these guys."
Kickoff between the Wildcats and Panthers is set for 7:30 p.m. at Panther Stadium. As always, you can catch highlights in the Red Zone at 10:08.