Harrison Dempsey

Harrison Dempsey carries the ball for Gainesville. The Leopards host No. 9 Wichita Falls Hirschi on Friday.

Gainesville picked up a big win last week, but it still has work to do with three games remaining.

The Gainesville football team is back home Friday night as the Leopards host Wichita Falls Hirschi in the first of back-to-back home games.

Gainesville (2-5 overall, 1-1 District 4-4A-1) didn’t face the Huskies last year due to a COVID cancellation. The Leopards won the most recent meeting 24-21 in 2019.

No. 9 Hirschi (5-2, 2-0) knocked off Springtown in a hard-fought game last week.

Gainesville coach James Polk said the Leopards are looking forward to the challenge.

“We got a big task at hand, but my kids are working hard,” Polk said. “They’re just real excited about that opportunity to play the No. 9 team in the state.”

Hirschi started the year 0-2 but hasn’t lost since. After demolishing Burkburnett to begin district play, the Huskies went on to beat last year’s district champion, Springtown. Hirschi is one win away from matching last year’s win total, both overall and in district, with three games to go.

The Huskies run a spread offense. Polk said they don’t do anything the Leopards haven’t seen before, it’s just a different opponent.

“They definitely like to run the ball,” Polk said. “They got one of the top running backs in the country in the backfield. Quarterback’s fast. Their passing game comes off the broken-down coverages. People coming off their man, quarterback’s scrambling around, that’s what their passing game has been like.”

Hirschi has a high-scoring offense. The Huskies have scored at least 40 points in each of the past four games, including 61 against Burkburnett and 62 against Vernon. The Leopards will need to slow down Hirschi’s offense at least somewhat to stay in the game.

Polk said everyone must know their role on defense, but the offense has a part to play, as well.

“We can’t be punting a lot,” Polk said. “We gotta hold on to the ball, try to control the clock. By controlling the clock, when we do have to turn the ball over, we need to be punting the ball and pinning them back. Just little things like that. Last time we (were) at home, we had a bunch of silly mistakes and penalties, and the game got out of hand because of that.”

While the final stretch of the season will be difficult, the Leopards have the advantage of getting two of their last three games at home. Polk said it is a big benefit.

“Although the two that we won (were) on the road, you still are in a better routine when you’re at home,” Polk said. “Not having to travel, getting out of school early and make all these arrangements, it’s a lot (easier) on the preparation when you’re playing at home.”

After hosting Hirschi, Gainesville will host Lake Worth before finishing the regular season at Springtown. Those will also be big challenges, but Polk said the Leopards are not thinking about those games yet.

“Let’s just get ready and focus on Hirschi,” Polk said. “Let’s try to win every rep at practice… We can’t afford to look ahead. We’re not in the playoffs yet, so let’s focus on Hirschi.”

Kickoff at Leopard Stadium is set for 7 p.m.

Trending Video

Recommended for you