Keith MacPherson, Sports Editor
Gainesville Daily Register
GAINESVILLE — Who saw this coming?
Gainesville and Krum, late in the season, with at least a share of the District 9-3A championship on the line.
The two teams, picked to finish fourth and fifth in the district by Texas Football Magazine before the season, will face off at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Leopard Stadium with both teams putting their undefeated records on the line.
“I talked to (Krum coach Gary Robinson) a little bit the other day and we talked about how our teams got to this point,” Gainesville coach Keith Hall said. “Before the year nobody would have dreamed that Gainesville and Krum would be undefeated and playing a big game against each other at the end of the season.”
The path both teams took to get to this point is similar on both ends. Both teams have surprised opponents with an athletic offense and a stingy defense, both have rolled through district play up to this point and both have blowout wins over Burkburnett, Decatur and Sanger.
But the most important part in both teams’ transformations has been the players and coaches buying into the programs that both Hall and Robinson have brought to their respective teams.
“The biggest thing is both us and Krum have a great group of kids that have really bought into what we are coaching,” Hall said. “You are going to have to get some breaks here and there to stay undefeated - especially playing a tough schedule like we both have - but the biggest thing is we have continued to get better each week.”
This is the first season for Krum to play at the varsity level. Known for years for its basketball program, the Bobcats began a football program five years ago. Last season Krum played a mostly varsity schedule filled with independent and private schools, going 8-2 in preparation for the move to full varsity this season.
“They have done a great job in Krum with that program,” Hall said. “You watch them on film and you have to be impressed. They have done a good job running the football and have really played well all year - you have to take your hat off to them.”
Krum brings a spread offense that will run the ball more than it will pass - think Rich Rodriguez’s offense at Arizona.
“They will give us a lot of different looks,” Hall said. “They will come out in multiple formations and can do a lot of different things out of those. We are going to have to do a good job at the little things - making the right reads, making tackles when we get a chance and taking advantage of any mistakes they might make.”
The Leopards have the added advantage of having two weeks to prepare for the Bobcats. But while the extra week allowed Gainesville to get a peak at Krum, the Leopards used the off week to work go back to the fundamentals.
“It’s important to have the fundamentals down if you’re playing hard,” Hall said. “If talent is equal - as it often is in the playoffs - it will come down to who plays hard, who isn’t confused and who has the best fundamentals. ... At any level it doesn’t matter. When you get into some games when the talent is pretty similar, understanding fundamentals is key. You have to get low, block correctly and know how to tackle.”
With a new grip on fundamentals and a big game looming, the Leopards know it will be the little things that will win the game on Friday. The biggest thing now is for the Leopards to just be themselves.
“We just have to keep doing what we’ve done all year,” Hall said. “We want to start quick, be explosive and play well on special teams. Turnovers are always huge in a big game like this. If we can win the battle of turnovers and field position, we should be in good shape.”