No. 2-ranked and unbeaten Timberlake will be the favorite to capture its first Class C-3 district title tonight. But the Tigers’ opponent, Deer Creek-Lamont, is used to having the odds stacked against them.

Despite suiting up just 12 players for tonight’s game in Helena, the Eagles have managed an 8-1 record and are guaranteed of their first postseason berth in two years. With a win and some help, DCLA could even claim the district championship.

“These kids just don’t give up,” said fifth-year DCLA head coach David Zachary. “They just keep on working. It’s the most unique situation I’ve ever been in.”

The Eagles escaped with a wild 60-53 win over Geary last week. Quarterback Eli Reese threw for 211 yards and ran for 128 yards while accounting for six offensive touchdowns. The senior also had two kickoff returns for touchdowns and made 15 tackles on defense.

Reese, one of only two seniors on DCLA’s roster, has been a key for the Eagles all season long. Timberlake coach Brian Severin compared him to a former Tiger, Teague Burkes. Burkes led Timberlake to the state semifinals last season.

“He’s a real good scrambler,” Severin said of Reese. “If he gets out on the corner, he’s gone.”

The Tigers have their own success story. Returning just three starters from last year, junior quarterback Jake Bowers has thrown for 10 touchdowns and 760 yards. Bowers and Johnny Ketterman have combined to rush for nearly 1,400 yards and 27 touchdowns on the ground.

“We knew these kids could play,” Severin said. “They just never had a chance because of the kids that were in front of them (last year).”

While the Tigers could win the district title with a win, DCLA would need a victory and Kremlin-Hillsdale to upset Covington-Douglas. If Covington-Douglas wins, Timberlake is guaranteed a district championship.

Severin said playing two home games to start the playoffs would be critical.

“If you have to travel those first two rounds, that’s pretty tough,” he said. “To be at home would be a tremendous advantage.”

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