POTTSBORO — There have been a couple of key moments for the Cardinals this season that have turned potential losses into victories and the common denominator seems to be Chris DeLaCruz.

POTTSBORO — There have been a couple of key moments for the Cardinals this season that have turned potential losses into victories and the common denominator seems to be Chris DeLaCruz.


"I wish I could tell you," DeLaCruz said. "I try to get after it the whole game."


The junior linebacker and running back has found himself involved in these crucial situations on both sides of the ball and has helped Pottsboro continue its season as the Cardinals (11-1) face Daingerfield (9-3) in a Class 2A Division I Region II semifinal at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Paris.


The winner will face either New Boston or Malakoff in the region final next week.


"Chris is a good athlete. He’s a very well-rounded football player," Pottsboro head coach Matt Poe said. "We don’t try to put a guy in any one spot. It’s just happened to play out that way."


When Farmersville held a seven-point lead late in the third quarter against the Cardinals, DeLaCruz recovered a fumble near the end zone to tie the game, setting up Pottsboro to take the lead for good a few minutes later.


When Pottsboro outlasted Caddo Mills in triple overtime during district play, DeLaCruz had the game-winning touchdown with a five-yard run in the last OT. It was his only carry of the game.


To say nothing of the other close contests the Cardinals have been involved in. Nine of their victories are by 13 points or less — five of them within a four-point margin.


"Being in that situation before helps us. The more you’ve been in there the better prepared you are," Poe said. "The expectation of winning, we drill them in the head. This group plays well together."


The latest involvement by DeLaCruz came in the area round to propel the Cardinals to the third round for the third time in six seasons.


"It’s nothing new for Pottsboro but we’ve got some guys it’s new to them. Now that they are here, they’re doing a good job," senior lineman Charlie Bray said. "Each win gives us confidence. Sometimes our defense helps out the offense. Other times it’s the offense that needs to help out the defense. We fight through every fourth quarter we play."


Pottsboro held on for a 14-13 victory against Redwater last Thursday in a game delayed two hours during the fourth quarter because of weather.


"It comes down to we work really hard to be mentally tough," Poe said. "I think our guys did a good job even before the game."


The Cardinals led 14-7 on a pair of TD runs by Zane Pritchett at the time of the stoppage — 9:30 left in the contest — and Redwater was able to get a touchdown with just over five minutes left to pull within a point. Instead of taking a chance with overtime, the Dragons went for two and the lead. Neo Hudson, who had just scored the touchdown, took a sweep to the left and was initially met by DeLaCruz. He was able to get a hand on Hudson and hold up his momentum until a flock of Cardinals arrived to take him down.


"They’d been running that play all night so I figured they would go back to it," DeLaCruz said. "We know not to panic under pressure."


Daingerfield is no stranger to deep playoff runs. The Tigers are seeking their 80th postseason victory and have won six titles to go with a pair of runner-up finishes. After winning three straight crowns from 2008-10, Daingerfield followed up a region final loss to eventual state champ Melissa by losing in the 2A Division I championship game last season, 38-20, to Cameron Yoe.


On the way to winning its last title, Daingerfield beat Pottsboro, 46-14, in the area round.


Last week it was Pottsboro’s 6-2A (I) districtmate Farmersville that almost pulled off a wild comeback before Daingerfield held on for the 41-35 victory. The Tigers took a 28-7 lead after the first quarter and did all its scoring as the Farmers started to rally but neither team scored in the fourth quarter.


"It does help but sometimes it doesn’t tell all the story," Poe said about using Farmersville as a comparison. "It helps the way the kids look at the game. They beat Farmersville in a close game. We beat Farmersville in a close game."


Cordarius Anderson had 246 yards and four touchdowns on 29 carries while Keynon Whetstone and Calvin Bryant chipped in TD runs for Daingerfield, which gained all 393 yards on the ground.


"They’re very athletic like many Daingerfield teams are," Poe said.


The Tigers allowed 384 yards — all rushing as well — as the Farmers got 331 yards and five touchdowns on 25 carries from Darrin Pennington.


The Tigers went 6-0 in District 7-2A (II), which is also Redwater’s district. Daingerfield has won eight straight games since a 54-27 loss against Gilmer. The Tigers opened the season with a 16-14 loss to Gladewater and a 48-35 defeat to Atlanta.