ENNIS — The Ennis football team doesn't need to look far to find belief it can contend on the road with the reigning 8-Man champion Belt Huskies in the upcoming semifinals.
First, the Mustangs can look at what they did last weekend at home in the quarterfinals.
After watching Circle cut a 22-6 Ennis halftime lead to 22-20 early in the third quarter, the Mustangs reflected on last season's quarterfinals, where eventual state runner-up St. Ignatius erased a 19-point deficit to stun Ennis.
The Wildcats seemed poised to pull out a similar rally, and the Mustangs decided they weren't interested in accommodating another comeback story.
"As soon as we got the ball back we were like, 'This is not happening again,'" said junior receiver Cole Kramer, who would go on to finish the game with three touchdown receptions.
Ennis went on to turn what looked to be shaping up to be a nail-bitter into a drama-free ending, churning out 38 unanswered points en route to a 67-26 runaway win — a decidedly convincing victory a week after pulling past Charlo 30-15 in the Mustangs' closest margin of victory this season.
Speaking of victories, Ennis can also look at its current record as further validation that it can upend the defending champs on Saturday.
"I think a big one is we're 11-0," said Mustangs head coach Mike Speck. "I don't think our kids are intimidated by much."
Still, Ennis recognizes that it's going to need to play a near-perfect football game if it intends on toppling a one-loss Huskies team coming off a 70-6 quarterfinal drubbing of Wibaux.
"Our (offensive) line has to show up, we all have to show up, linebackers, safeties," said senior Ennis quarterback Clintin Buyan. "Our offense has to be on point, got to score. Running game has to be dominant for us or it won't open up the pass game."
The Mustangs are back in the semifinals for the first time since 2017, a season after claiming the 8-Man championship in 2016. Ennis has now ended a six-year semifinal drought, but this team is dreaming bigger.
"We all want to get there, win the state championship," said Kramer. "Do something that hasn't been done in seven years. We all really want it."
The Mustangs and Huskies kick off in Belt at 1 p.m. on Saturday.