Empire 2020 team

The Empire Bulldogs won their first district title since 1989 and took home the Xpress Wellness Team of Week honors for the second time this season.

After making history by winning a district title for only the third time ever, the Empire Bulldogs also took home the Xpress Wellness Team of Week award after beating Central High 56-6.

Having six scores from Gabe Diaz, the Bulldogs improved to 8-1 on the regular season and made sure the Bulldogs will have some home games to start the Class B Playoffs.

Empire head coach Brant Hayes said the feeling around school is one of excitement. He is really proud of what his team has done to secure a district title before the final regular season game of 2020.

“It has been 31 years since the last time they won the district championship and I guess from what they told me, they won one in ’85, ’89 and this one, so this is the third one in school history,” Hayes said. “It was a good game and it was exciting for the boys to go out and seal the deal last Friday night.”

With the victory, Empire will face Cyril this week and then have a bye in the play-in week of the playoffs before starting their playoff journey on Nov. 20.

Hayes said they need to focus on this last game of the regular season before thinking about the bye as Cyril needs this victory to help their playoff standing.

“We kind of talked about that yesterday and is it going to help us or hurt us to get this bye week, so we are not really banged up and usually you like that bye week to get everyone healthy, but we are very healthy right now,” Hayes said. “We have been blessed to have not a lot of injuries and we are rolling right now so we want to keep it going and maybe it will give us some time to get away and just stop the grind of everyday practice.”

Hayes said they will stick to the same game plan that has gotten them this far and look to make history with a 9-1 regular season.

“They are a good football team and they are big up front and they have some kids that can make plays,” Hayes said. “We think we can line up and we can run right at them like we have done all year to everybody. We’ve just got to go execute and finish the season on a high note. Like I told them, that 9-1 is so much better than 8-2 and it is something else that … this could be another first in school history to end up 9-1. That is what we are striving for. 

“They kind of embarrassed us last year, so we have something to play for,” Hayes said. “That is what I have been preaching all week … our attitude this year is to try and do to them what they did to us last year.”

Kick off will take place at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 6 at Cyril.

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