AMARILLO — The Farwell Steers aren’t ready for the basketball season to begin just yet.
Playing their first postseason game in four years, the Steers rode a solid all-around effort Friday night to a 25-6 win over Wheeler in a Class 1A bi-district matchup played at Highland Park High School.
Farwell (9-1) advances to the area round and will take on District 1-1A champion Sunray (9-1), which had a first-round bye, in a 5 p.m. (CST) game on Friday at Dick Bivins Stadium in Amarillo. That will be the opener of a 1A playoff doubleheader, with Nazareth facing Stratford in the nightcap.
It was the last game in 11-man, at least for the time being,
for Wheeler (6-5). The Mustangs, who have enjoyed a strong tradition in the 1A ranks over the last quarter of a century, will make the transition to the six-man game in 2004.
“We’re real proud,” third-year Steers coach Jacob Thompson said. “It’s the first playoff game Farwell has won in I don’t know how many years. It makes us feel real good about ourselves.”
Farwell’s defense was dominant and blanked the Mustangs until a 68-yard completion from James Chapman to Hector Emiliano — on a deflection by Steers freshman defensive back Derrick Chandler — set up Chapman’s 6-yard TD pass to Josh Britt with 2:14 left in the game.
The deflected pass accounted for more than one-third of the Mustangs’ 173 total yards. But Wheeler could not overcome five turnovers, including pass interceptions by Chandler and senior Robbie Tabb.
All of Farwell’s scores came after Wheeler mistakes.
Tabb’s interception set up a 10-play, 44-yard drive which ended with quarterback Jason Johnson’s 7-yard run on the final play of the first quarter.
The 6-0 lead held up until the third period, when junior Rowdy Mitchell scored on runs of 8 and 9 yards to make it 19-0. Both came on drives of just two plays, the first set up by senior Grant Gregory’s fumble recovery at the Wheeler 10 and the second coming after a muffed punt snap gave Farwell the ball at the Mustangs’ 14.
Chandler’s interception led to a five-play, 46-yard drive that ended in Matthew Edwards’ 15-yard TD run with 3:31 left in the game.
“We played pretty well,” Thompson said. “It think we played a little better last week at Bovina (in a 46-7 win which clinched a playoff berth), but Wheeler is a good team.
“It’ll get tougher from here on out.”
Thompson said he’s seen Sunray on film. The Bobcats and Steers have played two common opponents — Wheeler (Sunray beat the Mustangs 14-7) and Nazareth (Sunray won 44-14 while Farwell lost 36-19).
“They’re a good, quality team,” Thompson said. “We’re going to have to play our best game to beat them. They’re a top 10 team in the state in every poll.”