So, the big game is finally here.
In a game long circled on the calendar as a Galveston County game of the year candidate, the Dickinson Gators and Clear Springs Chargers have met their preseason expectations and now finally meet on the gridiron in a game that will likely determine the District 24-6A champion.
Dickinson enters the contest with a spotless record (7-0, 3-0 in district), but it’s Clear Springs (3-3, 2-0) that is the defending 24-6A champion.
“They’re an excellent team, they’re the defending district champions,” Dickinson head coach John Snelson said. “They play excellent defense, and they’re very physical and balanced on offense. Their special teams are outstanding.
“So, we’re not going to be able to have any mental lapses,” Snelson continued. “We’re not going to be able to take any play off, because they have explosive playmakers on offense that can go the distance, and defensively, they’re just very sound and aggressive. So, we’re going to have to play our best game.”
While the Chargers’ record may not be as pretty as the Gators’, it looks the way it does because they tested themselves with a daunting non-district schedule that included games against state powerhouses Katy and Converse Judson. On the other side of that schedule, Clear Springs head coach Craig Dailey felt his team was better for playing it.
“I think it was good, what we did in the non-district,” Dailey said. “The Monday after we finished non-district, we had a team meeting. The captains ran it, and we made two lists: the positives and negatives that we got out of the non-district. And the positives were three times bigger than the negatives.
“I think it made us a better football team,” Dailey added. “It made our kids learn how to play at a high level. I think the biggest thing they learned from it is you’ve got to play with intensity all four quarters when you’re playing good teams like that. … And they learned you have to be consistent in playing at a high level against teams like that. So, I think they learned a lot from it.”
Dickinson, on the other hand, has been absolutely dominant and have shown improvement every week, which showed with a 42-point second quarter in its most recent game against Clear Falls.
“Whenever we go into a week, we don’t think about it going to the fourth quarter, we just try to get better every single day,” Snelson said. “We want to give every play a life of its own on Friday nights. If every kid on the field for us gives every play a life of its own and plays to the best of his ability, we’re going be right there.”
The Gators will be led on offense by quarterback Mike Welch, running back Jordan Green and blue chip tight end Jalen Wydermyer. Dickinson’s defensive standouts include linebackers Landon Roque and Colby Mouton, and lineman J.T. Greer.
Clear Springs, which should be Dickinson’s toughest test to date, will have its offense helmed by quarterback Garrett Rooker, running back Todd Hudson II and receiver Isaiah Bibb. Disruptive nose guard Jason Gold leads the defense.
“It’s going to be a war down to the fourth quarter, just like it always has been in the past,” Dailey said. “They’re very well coached, they’re physical, but I think we are, too, and I think it’s going to come down to which team executes the best and doesn’t make mistakes.”
Kickoff for the Clear Springs-Dickinson game is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at Sam Vitanza Stadium.