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They’re already in the playoffs so they don’t have to beat Ennis tonight to continue their football season. But the 6-3 Greenville Lions sure would like to do something no other team in District 8-5A-II has done and that’s beat Ennis. The two teams will battle at 7:30 tonight at Lions Memorial Stadium in Ennis. The Lions locked down their first playoff berth since 2003 with a 51-3 rout last week over Forney. The win moved them up into a tie for third place in 8-5A-II with Royse City at 5-2. Ennis is alone in first place at 7-0. Corsicana has completed district play at 6-2 after losing 30-21 last week to Ennis. Ennis, Corsicana and Greenville have locked down playoff spots. Royse City can also join the playoff party with a home win over Terrell tonight. North Forney, at 4-3 has to beat Sulphur Springs and have Royse City lose to Terrell to make it into the playoffs. “It’s unusual for both of us (Ennis and Greenville) where the outcome of this game doesn’t affect our seeding,” said Lions coach Darren Duke. “It allows us to go out and play and focus on some things. The no-pressure part allows us to focus on us.” The Lions were firing on all cylinders during last week’s win over Forney. They ran for 232 yards, including touchdown runs of 51 yards by Miles Denson and 41 yards by Lester Turner. Turner rushed for 90 yards on 15 carries to up his team-high total to 924 yards and nine touchdowns on 151 carries. Denson, the junior wide receiver, had his biggest night as a varsity Lion. Not only did he run for 85 yards on just four carries, he caught four passes for 104 yards, including touchdowns of 61 and 9 yards from quarterback Brandon Stephens and 28 yards from Josh Luna, who received a lateral from Stephens before throwing the touchdown pass. Denson escaped nine would-be tacklers on the 61-yard scoring play, shortly after receiving the ball, then Denson cut across the field, nearly getting tripped up before regaining his balance. Denson made his way to the sidelines before getting three defenders to overrun him by stopping and starting again. He completed the touchdown by diving to the end zone. Stephens wound up 7-of-9 passing for 133 yards, upping his season passing total to 916 yards and 11 TDs. Stephens is 66-of-142 passing and has also run for 541 yards and four scores. Defensive back Tyecus Davis also picked off two passes, returning one of them 68 yards for a touchdown. Davis also returned an interception and a kickoff for touchdowns in the Lions’ previous win over Sulphur Springs. Jeremiah Abrego also recovered a Forney fumble that was forced by DeGarrious Ford and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown. “I think our team speed on defense and our speed skill kids on offense present some challenges to Ennis,” said Duke. “We’re capable of playing with anybody.” Ennis has a strong tradition. The other Lions have won five state football titles in 1975, 2000, 2001, 2004 and 2013. Four of those titles were with Sam Harrell as head coach. Harrell left Ennis but is back coaching the Lions. Quarterback Collin Drake, a 6-1, 195-pound junior, directs the Ennis offense. Drake has rushed for a team-high 612 yards and nine TDs and has passed for 1,705 yards and 15 touchdowns. He’s 108-of-172 passing with only four interceptions. Devion Beasley has rushed for 557 yards and 11 TDs for Ennis and Jarius Jones, a 6-2, 235-pounder, has bulled his way for 411 yards and six scores. Laylon Spencer of Ennis ranks among the state’s top 5A receivers with 43 catches for 983 yards and nine TDs. Ennis averages 37 points per game, while giving up a norm of 15 ppg. Greenville averages 31 points and gives up an average of 18. “I think we take it just kind of as a challenge,” Duke said of facing Ennis. “We want to see how good we can be. We know they’re a playoff team. Not just a playoff team but a really good team. We’ve shown we’re capable of playing at a high level. And I still feel think we’re one of the best teams in the district and we’re capable of beating everybody.” The Lions won’t know until tonight who their bi-district playoff opponent will be. Frisco, Braswell and Lucas Lovejoy are tied for the District 7-5A-II lead with 6-1 records. Duke said if Frisco beats Lovejoy tonight at home, the Lions will face Frisco in the first round of the playoffs....

11/8/2019

The Greenville Lions were firing on all cylinders as they crushed Forney 51-3 on Friday night in the home finale to earn their first football playoff berth since 2003. Miles Denson ran for one touchdown and caught three touchdown passes and the Lions’ defense scored twice on turnovers as the Lions improved to 6-3 for the season and 5-2 in District 8-5A-II play. “That was a good win all the way around, where everything was clicking,” said Lions coach Darren Duke. “The focus was real good. They came out and executed. Dominated them.” The Lions moved up into a tie with Royse City for third place in the district at 5-2 after North Forney outscored Royse City 49-39. Ennis at 7-0 and Corsicana at 6-2 have locked up two playoff berths. So have the Lions even if they lose their next game at Ennis. “We’re in,” said Duke. “There’s no way that they can get us by points. Royse City’s on the hot seat.” North Forney, which has lost 49-38 to Greenville, stayed in the playoff hunt at 4-3 with its victory over Royse City. Royse City, which beat Greenville 17-14 earlier in the season, has to beat Terrell to make the playoffs. If Royse City, Greenville and North Forney were to tie for third place, the Lions and North Forney would advance to the playoffs because of a tiebreaking system, said Duke. Only four of the nine teams in 8-5A-II will advance to the playoffs. “We’re at plus-eight,” he said of the tiebreaking system because Greenville beat North Forney by 11 and lost by three to Royse City. “There was no way for anybody to catch us in points.” North Forney is at minus one in points and Royse City is at minus seven, going by point margins in head to head play of Greenville, North Forney and Royse City. Greenville took care of business early, rolling up leads of 21-0 after one quarter, 38-0 at halftime and 44-0 early in the third quarter. Denson turned in the biggest game of his two-year varsity career for the Lions, running for a 51-yard touchdown and then catching touchdown passes of 61 and 9 yards from Brandon Stephens and a 28-yarder from Josh Luna after Luna received a lateral from Stephens. Denson’s 61-yard run and catch was a work of art as he dashed down the sidelines, cut back, stopped, started again and ran through a couple of would-be tacklers before diving into the end zone. Denson also did some tough running on the 9-yard TD catch before diving into the end zone. The Lions’ big-play man on defense, Tyrecus Davis, intercepted two passes, returning one of them 68 yards for a touchdown. “That Tyrecus, he’s around the ball and just makes athletic plays all the time,” said Duke. Davis returned an interception and a kickoff for touchdowns in the Lions’ 25-13 win over Sulphur Springs last week. Defensive end Jeremiah Abrego also returned a fumble 33 yards for a touchdown. Teammate DeGarrious Ford caused the fumble with his hit on a Forney runner. Lions’ placekicker Zach Allen was 6-of-7 on extra points, booted an 18-yard field goal and also made a tackle on a kickoff return. Running back Lester Turner also ran for 90 yards on 15 carries, scoring on a 41-yard touchdown. He upped his team-high rushing total for the season to 924 yards. “That was some hard running by Miles and Lester,” said Duke. Stephens went 7-of-9 passing for 133 yards and ran for 33 yards on 11 carries. Forney, held to just 62 yards and three first downs in the first half by the Lions’ hustling defense, scored its only points in the third quarter on a 29-yard field goal by Colby Ortega that capped 14-play drive from the Jackrabbits’ 29 to the Lion 12-yard line that ate up nearly eight minutes on the clock. Forney, which was already out of the playoff running, dropped to 2-7 for the season and 1-6 in district play. The Jackrabbits beat Greenville 49-39 last year after rolling up a 28-0 lead in the first quarter. After the announcement that the Lions had clinched a playoff spot, Duke was chased down by some Lions before receiving the traditional dousing from a water cooler. “I saw where Miles had the cooler,” said Duke. “I knew I couldn’t outrun him.”...

11/3/2019

TERRELL — A one-handed interception by Tyrecus Davis helped the Greenville Lions turn back Terrell 28-16 in District 8-5A-II football on Friday night. Terrell trailed only 21-16 and was threatening to score again after reaching the Greenville 26 with 9 1/2 minutes remaining. But Davis pulled a Tiger pass out of the air with one hand at the Lion 12-yard line and then dashed 32 yards with the interception to the Greenville 44. The Lions then marched 56 yards in five plays to score on a 1-yard touchdown pass from Brandon Stephens to Caleb Johnson after Lester Turner ran 45 yards to the Tiger 3. That touchdown put the lead out of the reach of the Tigers as Greenville improved to 4-2 for the season and 3-1 in district play. The Lions remained tied for third place in 8-5A-II with Royse City after the Bulldogs upset defending district champion Corsicana 27-0 on Royse City’s homecoming. Ennis, which whipped Sulphur Springs 42-14, is alone in first place at 5-0. Corsicana leads Royse City and Greenville by a half-game at 4-1. Terrell dropped to 1-6 for the season and 1-4 in district play with its fourth straight loss. Terrell, coached by Marvin Sedberry Jr., the son of former Greenville Lions’ head coach Marvin Sr., led 3-0, 6-0, 13-7 and 16-14 as Christian Nunez booted field goals of 34, 32 and 33 yards and Ethan Lunsford returned a Greenville kickoff 60 yards for a touchdown. The Lions led 7-6 and 14-13 before going up for good on a 9-yard touchdown run by Turner, the game’s leading rusher with 128 yards on 20 carries. Turner also scored on a 1-yard touchdown run. Stephens went 12-of-17 passing for 144 yards, including a 6-yard touchdown pass to Miles Denson in the second quarter, as the balanced Lions rushed for 161 yards and passed for 144 to finish with 305 yards of total offense. Terrell quarterback Trey Lunsford went 5-of-13 passing for 79 yards and Deitrick George led the Tiger rushers with 71 yards on 13 carries. Davis, a senior defensive back, has made some big plays over the last two seasons to help the Lions win. Last year he returned a missed field goal 108 yards for a touchdown during the Lions’ 31-17 homecoming win over Terrell. “I just ran,” he said last year about that big play, adding that he got some good blocks on the return. Davis also recovered an onside kick to help the Lions beat North Forney 49-38 in Greenville’s previous game this season....

10/12/2019

Greenville football coach Darren Duke coached for 16 years with Marvin Sedberry as an assistant at Greenville, Dallas Carter and Bryan. But Duke and his staff of assistants will be coaching against a Sedberry when the 3-2 Lions take on the 1-5 Terrell Tigers in a District 8-5A-II game at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Terrell Memorial Stadium in Terrell. Marvin Sedberry Jr., the son of the former Greenville coach, is the head coach at Terrell and his father is the boys athletic coordinator at Furlough Middle School in Terrell. Sedberry Sr. guided the Lions to eight playoff trips during his 15 seasons as the Greenville head coach. “Of course I’ve known Marvin Jr. you know pretty much since he was in high school...,” said Duke. “Of course I worked for his dad all those years. But when it’s all said and done, kind of like last week against North Forney, it’s still the kids on the field that have to get out there and play. It makes for some interesting trash talking back and forth and this and that but it’s all in good competitive fun and I’ve known the family for a long time but it’s a win we need.” The Lions climbed up into a tie with Royse City for third place in the 8-5A-II standings with a 49-38 win last week over a North Forney team coached by Duke’s longtime friend Randy Jackson, who was also on the Lions’ staff at one time under Sedberry. An onside kick gamble when the Lions trailed 38-35 with 5:58 left paid off for the Lions. Tyrecus Davis leaped up to recover Zach Allen’s bouncing kickoff at the Falcon 45. Lion running back Lester Turner scored the go-ahead touchdown two plays later on a 45-yard run. Turner rushed for a career-high 223 yards on 20 carries, also scoring on bursts and 4 yards as the Lions rolled up a season-high 585 yards in total offense. Turner leads the Lions for the season with 549 yards rushing and five touchdowns on 79 carries. Greenville quarterback Brandon Stephens accounted for 302 yards of total offense, rushing for 112 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries and completing 14 of 28 passing for 190 yards, including touchdowns of 14 and 65 yards to wide receiver Caleb Johnson. Stephens now ranks second on the team in rushing with 401 yards and four TDs on 61 carries and is 40-of-91 passing for 559 yards and six scores. Johnson leads the Lion receivers with 18 catches for 268 yards and four TDs. Miles Denson ranks second in receiving (10-80) and rushing (29-195, 3 TDs). The Lions are now 2-1 in district play, while Terrell is 1-3. The Tigers opened district play with a 15-13 win over Sulphur Springs but have dropped their last three district contests by margins of 16-7 to Forney, 37-0 to Ennis and 42-7 last week to Corsicana. Ennis and Corsicana are tied for the district lead at 4-0. Terrell’s team looks a program in transition in Sedberry’s first season as head coach. The Tigers have switched time with two different quarterbacks (Tommy Steward and Trey Lunsford). Eleven Tigers have taken turns running with the football, led by Deitrick George with 216 yards and two touchdowns on 47 carries. The Terrell-Greenville rivalry dates back many years in different sports. “We’ve always been real competitive with them in every sport,” said Duke. “They have some good speed guys and things like that so we know we’ve got to go over there and play and we’re expecting a battle.” GAME: Greenville Lions (3-2) at Terrell Tigers (1-5)....

10/11/2019

The Greenville Lions’ 49-38 win over North Forney on Friday moved them up in to a tie for third place in the District 8-5A-II football standings. The Lions, who are 3-2 overall, are now 2-1 in district play, tied for third place with Royse City. Royse City suffered its first loss of the season, 38-21 to Ennis, to drop into the tie for third with Greenville. The Bulldogs are also 2-1 in district play. Ennis and Corsicana share the district lead at 4-0. Sulphur Springs ranks fifth in the district standings at 1-2, followed by 1-3 North Forney, 1-3 Forney, 1-3 Terrell and 0-3 Kaufman. The top four teams will advance to the playoffs. Greenville travels to Terrell on Friday to take on the 1-5 Tigers, who are coached by Marvin Sedberry Jr., the son of former Lions head coach Marvin Sedberry Sr. The elder Sedberry is assisting his son as the boys athletic coordinator at Furlough Middle School in Terrell. An onside kick gamble paid off for the Lions in their win over North Forney. They’d just scored to cut the gap to 38-35 with 5:58 remaining when head coach Darren Duke elected to call for the onside kick on the advice of assistant coaches Alex Contreras and George Sellers. Tyrecus Davis recovered Zach Allen’s bouncing kick at the North Forney 45. Lester Turner scored two plays later on a 45-yard run for the Lions. Turner later added a 4-yard touchdown run to nail down the victory. Greenville finished with a season-high 585 yards of total offense including 395 rushing and 190 passing. Turner ran for 223 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries. Quarterback Brandon Stephens ran for 112 yards and one score on 19 carries and was 14-of-28 passing for 190 yards and two touchdowns, both to Caleb Johnson. Terrell opened district play with a 15-13 win over Sulphur Springs. The Tigers have lost their last three district games, 16-7 to Forney, 37-0 to Ennis and 42-7 to Corsicana. Royse City faces another tough challenge on Friday night against the district co-leader Corsicana, which is the defending district champion. Royse City’s spirits will get a boost from the homecoming crowd. Payton Petroff scored all three of Royse City’s touchdowns against Ennis on short runs. Ahmon Petty-Dozier set up two of the touchdowns with a 97-yard kickoff return and a 54-yard run. Other district games on Friday night will pit Ennis at Sulphur Springs and Kaufman at North Forney....

10/9/2019

DALLAS — Last year the Greenville Lions were starting to pull away from Dallas Lincoln in a football game when lightning appeared in the distance. That game was suspended, called off after a lengthy delay and not rescheduled. The Lions jumped ahead of Lincoln again in Friday’s rematch at Forester Field. Only this time the game counted as a 45-12 victory for the Lions. Greenville jumped out to leads of 17-0 by halftime and 31-0 after three quarters as they squared their season record at 1-1. They barely lost the season opener 38-37 to W.T. White. The Lions, who completed non-district play, will now focus on their District 8-5A-II opener at home on Friday against Corsicana, the defending district champion. Greenville, which rolled up 518 yards against W.T. White but gave up 402, finished with less total yards (345) but allowed less (367) that in the previous game. Greenville pounded out 289 yards rushing. Lester Turner led the way 84 yards on 12 carries, including a 22-yard touchdown run. Miles Denson scooted for 62 yards on just five carries, scoring on runs of 26 and 16 yards. Dartaveon Wilkerson ran for another 56 yards on four carries, including a 40-yard touchdown run where he hurdled a defense, and tight-roped down the right sidelines. Caleb Johnson ran for 38 yards on three carries and Tyrecus Davis dashed for a 23-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Greenville quarterback Brandon Stephens, who ran for 169 yards against W.T. White, was limited to 19 yards on five carries but was 3-of-8 passing for 56 yards, including a 38-yard touchdown pass to Shawn Brown. Lion placekicker Zach Allen booted a 37-yard field goal and was 6-of-6 on conversion kicks. Allen also boomed a 56-yard punt. Dallas Lincoln managed 367 total yards but much of it was in the second half when the lead was out of reach. Quarterback Travelle Gunels, who spelled the starter Michael Phillips, rushed for a game-high 144 yards on 15 carries, including a 1-yard touchdown run. Gunnels was als 8-of-13 passing for 74 yards, with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Adonis Scott. Defensive back DeGarrious Ford set up one Lion touchdown with a 54-yard interception return. Dreshaun Washington set up a Lincoln touchdown with a 50-yard run in the fourth quarter. The Lions’ district opener is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday at T.A. “Cotton” Ford Stadium. Corsicana beat the Lions 40-14 in last year’s district opener....

9/7/2019

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