Gladewater (5-0, 1-0) at Gilmer (5-1, 1-0); 7:30 p.m., Friday; Jeff Traylor Stadium
This marks the first time these two East Texas football heavyweights have met since the 2014 4A, Division II regional semifinal showdown in Longview. Both were ranked in the Top 10 in the state at the time and the game, which Gilmer rallied to win with 9 seconds left to play (41-35), became an immediate Instant Classic. … While Gladewater is unbeaten, Gilmer’s lone loss came three weeks ago to Carthage. Both are playing well and are ranked in this week’s TheOldCoach.com’s Class 4A Division II poll. The Buckeyes are No. 4, the Bears 12th. … Gladewater’s offense is anchored by the play of QB Cameron Callaway, Jr. Callaway was instrumental in the Bears’ gaining 574 yards of offense, scoring on runs of 17, 1, 1 and 70 yards last week against Spring Hill. He was also 6 of 9 passing for 89 yards and moves to 9 of 15 for 326 this season. Callaway has rushed for 457 yards. RB Isaiah Davis is the leading Gladewater rusher for the season with 627 yards and 11 touchdowns. Darnell McKnight follows with 397 yards and two TDs. The Bears are coming off a season-high 491 yard rushing performance in last week’s victory. … The leading tacklers on the Buckeyes’ Black Flag defensive unit are S Kollin Hurt, a La. Tech commit, and LB Jeremy Kelly. Hurt has 58 tackles, 1 TFL and 1 interception, while Kelly has 49 stops, 6 TFL, 3 SK, 1 Int. … Gilmer QB Aaron ’Poppy’ Brown continues his torrid start to the season, passing (148 of 227) for 2,196 yards and 22 touchdowns with only 4 interceptions. He has a talented stable of receivers: Six players with 10 or more catches. They are led by Oklahoma State verbal commit Lamarcus Morton (33-610, 5 TDs), WRs Red Jones (27-384, 5) and Qua Heath (19-323, 4). The Buckeyes are not just a passing fancy, though, having rushed for 1,160 yards and 21 touchdowns. The leading ball carriers have been RBS Kameryn Cuevas (38-254, 3) and Rashaad Ward (41-251, 3 TDs), along with Brown (38-158, 4). … Defensively, the Bears’ top tacklers continue to be LB Bryson Oliver (52, 15 TFL, 6 SK), DT Isaiah Tiner (37, 12 TFL, 3 SK) and S Austin Hawley (33, 5 TFL, 2 SK, 1 Int). The unit continues to give up points (12.2 ppg) and yards (155.5 ypg) rather begrudgingly, but Gilmer’s potent offense will be a stern test.
JOE’S PICK: Gilmer by 6
Kilgore (4-3, 3-0) at Henderson (6-0, 2-0); 7:30 p.m., Friday; Lion Stadium
Although Henderson, ranked No. 6 in this week’s TheOldCoach.com’s Class 4A Division I poll, suffered a disappointing season, missing the playoffs a year ago, the Lions finished on a positive note by beating Kilgore. Prior to the 2015 contest, the Bulldogs and Lions had split their previous six meetings, each winning three. … Henderson is coming off a bye week, after defeating state-ranked Carthage, 36-28, in Carthage on Sept. 30. Kilgore is No. 14 in this week’s TheOldCoach.com’s 4A Division I rankings. … The Bulldogs are averaging 29.1 points per game for the season and allowing an average of 27.8. Those averages are significantly better against district foes (36.6 to 20.3). The Ragin’ Red average 318.2 yards per contest (238.4 rushing, 79.8 passing). QB Patrick ’Buddy’ Jackson had a productive performance against Carthage, rushing for 168 yards and two touchdowns, and completing 6 of 9 passes for 110 yards and another touchdown. Jackson, a jr. has rushed for 676 yards and six touchdowns and completed 61 percent of his passes (38 of 62) for 507 yards and four touchdowns. His favorite receiver is Cole Wood, who has a reception in every game, with 19 catches for 214 yards. Jonathan Shepherd, a jr., and soph. Deiontrae Wheat are continuing to come on. Shepherd has 11 catches for 192 yards, while Wheat has 9-for-119. Shepherd has also proven to be a playmaker returning kickoffs. He has 6 for 144 yards. RB Melek Hamilton leads the K-Dogs rushing attack with 714 yards and five touchdowns on 116 carries. … Henderson’s defense is allowing opponents an average of just 17.1 points per game. It is anchored by OLB Ty Blanton and ILB Josh Mapps. While Blanton has 68 tackles, 10 TFL to go with 4 SK and 2 FR, Mapps has 59 tackles and a sack. Other leaders on the unit are OLB Garrett Lybrand and S Tre Blanton. Lybrand has 56 tackles, 4 TFL, 2 SK and 2 FR, while Blanton has 54 stops and 2 TFL. … Henderson also has a couple of FBS Division I commits to TCU in WR Trestan Ebner and RB Lakendrick Vanzandt on an offense that has scored 40 or more points in five of its six wins.
The Lions are averaging 46.1 points per game. Ebner has 22 receptions for 459 yards and eight touchdowns. Vanzandt leads the rushing parade with 664 yards and nine TDs. Last year’s QB Matthew Childers has converted to a WR and follows Ebner with 14 catches for 130 yards and two scores. QB Trae Hall has rushed for 330 yards and is 46 of 72 passing for 597 yards and 10 touchdowns. … Kilgore’s defense will have its work cut out for it, trying to slow the Lions. LB Jamal Nobles is the ’Dogs leading tackler with 64, including 2 TFL and a fumble recovery. LB Isaiah Smith (44 stops, 5 TFL, 1 SK, 2 CF), LB Sebastian Mumphrey (40, 1 TFL) and DE Demorrea Richardson (42, 9 TFL, 3 SK and 15 HUR) have also provided key contributions. Kilgore came away with a couple of timely interceptions, getting one from S Mateo Meraz and the other by Soph. CB Jerrick Irving, a week ago.
JOE’S PICK: Henderson by 14
Center (5-2, 3-0) at Carthage (3-2, 0-2); 7:30 p.m., Friday; Bulldog
These are old rivals that have not played each other since the 2012-2013 seasons when they were competing in District 20-3A. Carthage, No. 15 in this week’s TheOldCoach.com’s 4A Division I rankings, won each of those games: 55-3 in 2013 and 45-21 in 2012. Both teams also reached the playoffs at the conclusion of those seasons. … Fast forward: The Roughriders are off to an unbeaten (3-0) start in district play, while Carthage is coming off back-to-back district losses for the first time in the Coach Scott Surratt Era (10 seasons) at Carthage High School. … Center enters the contest, averaging 26.0 points per game for the season, and 28.3 against the district. Senior QB Kyle Parks (6-1, 190) is the point man in the ’Rider offense, completing 59.6 percent of his passes (96 of 161) for 1,285 yards and 11 touchdowns with only three interceptions. Parks is capable of running and is the second-leading rusher on the team with 224 yards (on 100 carries) and one touchdown. His go-to target has been Octavius Evans with 44 receptions for 535 yards and four scores. Evans (6-2, 186) has received Division I FBS offers from among others Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Mississippi State. RB Jacarious Hall is the leading rusher, averaging 4.5 yards per carry (64-291). Following Evans is receptions is Jaterious Evans with 16 catches for 387 yards and five touchdowns. The Roughriders are averaging 281.0 yards per game (183.6 passing, 97.4 rushing). … The ’Dawgs’ defense is allowing 372 yards of total offense (225 rushing, 147 passing) per game. Leading the way are LB Jase Dixon with 58 tackles, 7 TFL, 4 CF, 2 FR and a sack, MLB Mikael Gates (55, 5 TFL, 1 CF, 2 FR) and LB Jose DeJulian (52 tackles, 6 TFL, 4 CF, 1 FR). … Carthage QB Kason Davis is 97 of 165 passing for 1,520 yards. He threw three scoring strikes; two to WR Dewaylon Ingram and the other to RB Keaontay Ingram in the Kilgore game.
Davis’ favorite receivers continue to be WR Dee Bowens (26 receptions for 422 yards) and Dewaylon Ingram (23-384). Keaontay Ingram, who leads the rushing attack with 743 yards on 101 carries (7.35 apc), is also a capable receiver with 20 receptions for 275 yards. Ingram, the RB, rushed for 134 yards to go with 110 yards receiving in the loss to Kilgore. … The Roughrider defense is allowing 32.7 points per game. That is somewhat misleading, though, since only Gilmer (70) and Gladewater (56) have accounted for more than 28 a game. OLB Adrian Johnson has been the leading tackler for Center with 80 stops. He’s averaging 11.4 tackles and 3.4 TFL per contest. FS Octavius Evans and CB Kameron Elmer follow with 43 tackles each. Johnson is also the sack master with 9 thus far. The Center defense has 15 turnovers: 6 interceptions and 9 fumble recoveries.
JOE’S PICK: Carthage by 24
Spring Hill (3-3, 0-1) at Pittsburg (4-2, 1-0); 7:30 p.m., Friday; Pirate Stadium
Pittsburg opened its district schedule in impressive fashion last week against Atlanta, while Spring Hill despite a district opening loss to state-ranked Gladewater is off to its best start in a number of years. … The Pirates are No. 21 in this week’s TheOldCoach.com’s 4A Division II rankings. Slowing RB Deldric Shields is imperative for any defense that wants to enjoy success against Pittsburg. Shields has rushed for 694 yards and three touchdowns. He’s also been a weapon as a receiver with five catches for 70 yards and two TDs. … Soph. QB Jaylon Jimmerson is 71 of 111 passing for 918 yards and 12 touchdowns. He has suffered four interceptions, but averages 12.9 yards per completion and 153.0 yards per game. Jimmerson’s favorite receiver is senior Dejour Dowell with 31 receptions for 491 yards and six touchdowns. Soph. Keontae Burns has the second-most receptions on the team with 16 for 191. … Spring Hill’s defense is led by FS Darren Beck and MLBs Kaden Peppers and Vaughn Bufkin. Beck has 56 stops, including a TFL. Peppers has 44 tackles, 2 TFL and an interception, while Bufkin has 44 tackles, 5 sacks and 3 TFL. DE D.Q. Armstron and DL Justin Evans each have 41 tackles and have combined for 14 sacks. … Meanwhile, the Panther offense is led by Jr. RB Zach Tulpa, who has rushed for 633 yards and five touchdowns. QB Dayson Adaway has added 364 rushing yards and five touchdowns out of the run-first Panthers’ offense, which is averaging 260.6 yards per game. Adaway has completed 17 of 49 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown with four interceptions. His leading receiver is Ryan Willis with 11 catches for 133 yards and a score. … The Pirates defense is led by SS Jakeivian Hughes, DE Cody Jones and DE E.J. Hill. Hughes has 50 tackles, 5 TFL and an interception. Jones has 43, including 9 TFL and 5 SK, while Hill has 42 tackles, 2 TFL and 3 sacks. CB Dalton Warrick leads the Pirates in interceptions with 2 and fumble recoveries with 1.
JOE’S PICK: Pittsburg by 35
Bullard (3-3, 0-2) at Chapel Hill (1-6, 0-3); 7:30 p.m., Friday; Bulldog Stadium, New Chapel Hill
Both of these teams desperately need a victory if they hope to return to the playoffs as one of the four entries from 9-4A Division I this season. Both made the playoffs a year ago, but time and winning are of the essence now. … Panther QB Cleet Bowman is 74 of 137 passing for 1,182 yards and eight touchdowns with seven interceptions. His primary receivers are Ty Crayton (17-347, 2 TDs), Nic Costas (13-276, 3), Major Tennison (11-186, 1) and D’Juan Martin (10-106). The leading rushers have been RB Tre Crayton (62-344, 4) and Luke Bowman (64-241, 2). … Chapel Hill’s defense is allowing 29.1 points per contest. The unit is led by ILB Adrian Berry, OLB Cale Carruthers and MLB Ladarian Hudson. … Chapel Hill enters the contest, averaging 144 passing yards and 96 rushing (240 total) per game. QB Jaxon Heckel was 13 of 22 passing for 218 yards and two touchdowns with an interception last week against Center, bringing his numbers for the season to 56 of 115 for 801 yards passing with four touchdowns and seven picks. RB Andrian Minor continues to lead the Chapel Hill ground game with 408 yards and three touchdowns on 98 carries. RBs Hunter Branin (43-221, 1) and Decorian Horton (29-187, 2) follow Minor’s lead. The Bulldogs’ primary receivers have been Jordan Williams (11-183, 1), Cooper Daniels (9-100) and Kaine Perkins (9-66). … Meanwhile, Bullard’s defense is led by ILB Thomas Brooks with 38 tackles and 5 TFL. S Tre Crayton (32, 1 FR, 1 CF) and OLB Landry Lasseter (25, 3 TFL, 1 FR) have also provided big plays.
JOE’S PICK: Bullard by 7
Pleasant Grove (1-5, 0-1) at Atlanta (4-2, 0-1); 7:30 p.m., Friday; Rabbit Stadium
This is a matchup of a couple of teams looking to get back into the win column, after suffering district-opening losses a week ago. … Atlanta is No. 22 in this week’s TheOldCoach.com’s 4A Division II Top 25. Through six games, the Rabbits have rushed for 1,131 yards and passed for 773, and are averaging 38.0 points per contest. RB Jwan King is leading the rushing attack, averaging 9.0 yards per carry, with 351 yards on 39 carries. He is one of three players to score four touchdowns. Others to accomplish that are RBs Nick Cooper (37-167, 4) and QB Leighton Henson (37-183, 4). Another go-to back in the offense has been Kelton Young (34-284, 2). Henson has thrown for 761 yards (39 of 72) and eight touchdowns with four interceptions. Mix the run with the pass and the Rabbits have been effective more times than not. WR Hunter Roberts leads Atlanta in receptions with 13 for 238 yards and two touchdowns. … The Hawks defense is anchored by LBs Caleb Porchia and Xavier Benson. Porchia has 51 tackles and Benson 44. … Pleasant Grove QB T.J. Cole was 5 of 11 for 106 yards and a touchdown against Gilmer, bringing his totals for the season to 20 of 56 for 301 yards passing and three touchdowns with two interceptions. Keshawn Jones, who caught the scoring pass, was the Hawks’ leading rusher against the Buckeyes with 105 yards. RB Logan Wesley is the Hawks’ leading rusher for the season with 495 yards and five touchdowns. … Defensively, the Rabbits are allowing an average of 285.1 yards (176.8 rushing, 108.3 passing) and 27.8 points per game. ILB Danny Dickerson leads the Rabbits in stops with 63, including a TFL and 2 CF. OLB Tristan Allen and S Dontay Casey are also among the leaders in tackles with 58 and 56 each. … Atlanta has recently dominated this series, winning the last four games by an average of 31.7 ppg.
JOE’S PICK: Atlanta by 6