Finishing strong

Farmers host Hawks to end regular season


AJ Jackson

Football coaches share a hug after their first Battle of the Axe win in four years.

After clinching the district championship last week, the varsity football team looks to win their eighth-straight regular season game on Thursday against the Hebron Hawks. The Hawks’ playoff hopes lie in limbo, needing a victory over the Farmers and a Plano loss to Coppell to crack the top 4 in District 6-6A.

Hebron most recently survived a 35-32 shootout at home against the Plano West Wolves. Hawks senior quarterback Braxton Baker threw for 339 yards and four touchdowns in the game, bringing his season totals up to 1900 passing yards and 18 touchdowns. Senior receivers Micah Greene and Case Holleron have caught 17 of those touchdowns and have combined for 1561 receiving yards. Both Greene and Holleron caught two touchdowns against the Wolves, with Holleron’s first touchdown in the third quarter extending the lead to two scores. 

Senior running back Bryson Spriggs is also a significant offensive threat for the Hawks. Spriggs leads the district with 183 carries, and is close behind the district lead with 941 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns. 

The Hawks have one of the most decorated defensive players in the district in senior linebacker Carson Dean. Dean, an Arkansas commit, finished his junior season with 86 total tackles including 10 sacks and an interception; he tallied 16 tackles, four of them for loss in a win against Flower Mound earlier this season. Dean was the projected defensive district MVP by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine.

The Farmers 38-14 road win over Plano East improved their district record to 6-0 and clinched the district championship over Coppell thanks to a head-to-head tiebreaker.

“It was a crazy atmosphere,” junior running back Viron Ellison said. “Everybody was dancing, taking pictures, just [full of] excitement.”

Ellison’s 965 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns lead the district. The junior only got two carries for 10 yards against the Panthers, but it didn’t inhibit the team’s success as they found a way to win on the road. 

“Credit to our defense, they got multiple stops,” Ellison said. My QB Ethan, he did really well that game.”

Junior quarterback Ethan Terrell led the team in rushing, running six times for 108 yards and finding the endzone three times. Because of the rain, Terell only threw five times, completing two passes for 15 yards. The team was expecting similar conditions for the game against Hebron, but it was eventually moved to Thursday to avoid potential weather delays.

“Our routine has changed, but we’re planning the same,” Ellison said. “We still have standards to beat the expectations. We’re good enough of a team to just step out and play ball.”

The team’s defense has been the strongest of its kind in the district, allowing only 124 points through nine games; the next closest team was Marcus with 227 points allowed. The defensive line has done well at generating pressure, as senior defensive linemen Mason Johnson and Rendell Carter are tied for the team lead in sacks, each with four. Johnson and Carter have also combined for 34 tackles for loss and the former leads the team in total tackles, with 63.

“It feels accomplishing, like a lot of hard work has paid off,” Johnson said. 

The secondary has also been pivotal in propelling this team forward, as the team finished with five total interceptions and 20 total pass deflections. Junior safety Jaydan Hardy has had an important role in many phases of the game, often rushing from his spot as a holder on two-point conversions. Hardy also has 65 offensive yards and two touchdowns while lined up as a receiver or in the backfield.

The team has also learned they’ll host the Allen Eagles (6-3, 4-2 district) of District 5-6A in the bi-district round of the playoffs. Coppell and Marcus have also clinched a playoff spot in the Division 1 and Division 2 brackets respectively.

“[There are] some smaller things that we need to [improve] before [playing] harder opponents,” Johnson said. 

The team still has their sights focused on the Hawks, but optimism is growing as the team returns to the postseason as district champions for the first time in 21 years.

“Everybody wants to win [the] state [championship],” Ellison said. “It’s [about] being willing to put the work in, so we’ve got to work day by day.”