Dragons fall shy of district title; advance to playoffs

San Augustine takes District 12-2A D1 crown in 28-14 victory
Shelbyville will face off against the Tenaha Tigers Friday night, Nov. 16, in Waskom for round one of playoff action.

Last Friday night, the Shelbyville Dragons knew that they would be back to the gridiron for the playoffs.

The only question that lingered was seeding. Prior to Friday nights District Championship matchup between the Shelbyville Dragons and the San Augustine Wolves, both teams had swept the district. No team within their district could stop the Dragons or the Wolves. It was fitting that these teams met on the last night of district play. The Dragons came out strong and played well for the most part, but at the end of the night, it was San Augustine who stood atop District 12-2A DI with a score of 28-14.

“We kind of ran out of bodies there for a little bit. We were scrambling,” said David Benbow, head Dragons coach. “We were already down Trace Jackson at wing back coming into the game, and then Slade Smith breaks his collar bone. That puts Kel Wilson at wing back who only had 10 reps coming in. Tyler Windham goes down and Jaylon goes down, so we were having to play some backups, but that’s why you practice all year.

“That’s no excuse. I’m pleased as I can be again with how our kids played,” he said. “We always challenge them to give great effort, and I thought they did tonight. Came up a little bit short.

“Obviously, we would’ve liked to have been on the other end of it, but the great thing is, we live to fight again next week.” Benbow said following the game.

Both teams were clearly leaving everything out on the field in their attempts to claim the district title. Shelbyville wasn’t the only team losing players to injuries as San Augustine was also forced to take several injury timeouts.

It was a hard-hitting matchup from the start.

Shelbyville rushed the ball 45 times with 10 different running backs. It was all hands on deck for the Dragons during this contest. Jaylon Brinson lead the charge with 13 carries and 55 yards rushing.

Brinson was also responsible for one of the Dragons’ two touchdowns. The aforementioned Kel Wilson was responsible for the second. Trevor Jackson also made his way onto the scoreboard, as he added two points following the Brinson touchdown.

Sophomore defensive end AJ Cartwright ended the night as the Dragons’ leader in tackles. Cartwright is credited for 13 total tackles, one sack, and one fumble caused.

Fellow sophomore Grady Clay also had a big night on defense. He ended the night with 7 tackles, three of which were for a loss.

Although Shelbyville came up short, they truly were only a few plays away from a totally different outcome. One of San Augustine’s scores came off of a Shelbyville fumble that was scooped up and taken to the endzone.

A busted coverage here, a late touchdown there. What ifs don’t do anyone much good, but it’s important to note that Shelbyville was never truly out of this ball game. The Dragons weren’t supposed to be playing for a district title in the first place if you believed Dave Campbell, who optimistically had the Dragons pegged at the three seed within District 12-2A DI.

Shelbyville will return to the football field to face off against the Tenaha Tigers this Friday night in Waskom for round one of playoff action. The last time these teams met was at Dragon Stadium in a preseason scrimmage.

Both teams have grown exponentially since that contest, so it’ll be fun to see where these two Shelby County teams stand today. Shelbyville and Tenaha are joined by Center, Joaquin and Timpson in their postseason quests.

This marks the first time in history that all five Shelby County Teams have entered the playoffs within the same year.

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Scenes from final regular season Shelbyville Dragons football game