The Rice Consolidated Raiders (5-4, 3-2) did not defend their district championship this season, but they are going to the playoffs after a third-place finish in District 13.
The Raiders will play the Hallettsville Brahmas (7-2, 4-1) this Thursday at Ricebird Stadium in El Campo at 7 p.m.
Hallettsville and Rice Consolidated were supposed to play each other during non-district, but the game was canceled.
Now the teams will take on each other, but with the stakes much higher, only one team will keep their season alive and move on to the second round of the playoffs.
“They’re a very sound football team and a young football team like we are,” Raiders Head Coach Jared Sloan said. “They’ve got playmakers, (they’re) really talented at quarterback, running back and the receiver position. I see a lot of similarities between our two teams in the youth factor and especially (the scrappiness).”
Going into the playoffs, the Raiders picked up a hard-fought and gritty win over Hempstead although it might not have been a blowout win or a game in which the offense exploded for lots of points.
Against Hempstead, the Raiders found themselves down by two scores on the road quickly. With a playoff spot already sealed, they could have packed it in and lived to fight another day.
Instead the Raiders slowly made their way back into the game and pulled out the one-point win. “We’ve been really good all year with the mentality that we’re never going to give up,” senior Drayton Canaris said. “Even in the first game we’re getting beat by East Bernard, we’re still going to come out and try and, eventually, the scoreboard will show.”
In El Campo Thursday, the Raiders are going to need to grind, Hallettsville will be another in a long line of tough games they’ve played this season.
Rice Consolidated has one win over a team with a .500 record and that was against Hempstead. Can they get a second?
“We’re going to fight hard and we’re going to scrap,” senior Ian Hargrove said.