Center (5-4, 3-2) at Kilgore (5-3, 4-0); 7:30 p.m., Friday; R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium
Coming off a bye week, Kilgore returns to action, hosting Center, a team looking to keep its playoff hopes alive, after losing back-to-back games against state-ranked Carthage and Henderson. Kilgore is 8th ranked in this week’s TheOldCoach.com’s Class 4A Division I poll. … Center is averaging 22 points and 263.5 yards per contest. Despite its recent setbacks, the Roughriders have talented skill-position players in QB Kyle Parks, WRs Octavius Evans and Jaterius Evans, and RB Jacarious Hall. Parks is 121 of 200 passing for 1,560 yards and 11 touchdowns with five interceptions. He’s proven to be a capable runner, rushing for 204 yards and nine touchdowns. Octavius Evans has Division I FBS offers from among other schools Oklahoma State, Mississippi State and Texas Tech. He has 50 receptions for 609 yards and four touchdowns. Jaterius Evans, a jr., follows with 25 catches for 475 yards and five scores. Meanwhile, Hall is the leading rusher with 370 yards and one touchdown. … The Ragin’ Red defense is anchored by LBs Jamal Nobles and Isaiah Smith. Nobles leads with 71 stops and 3 TFL, and Smith follows with 54 tackles, 3 TFL and 1 Sk. The unit is allowing an average of 27.6 points and 331.6 yards per contest. … Kilgore’s offense is averaging 29 points as well as 232.8 rushing and 78.0 passing yards per game. RB Melek Hamilton is the leading rusher with 834 yards, while QB Patrick ‘Buddy’ Jackson follows with 736 yards. Both have scored six touchdowns. Nobles, the designated short-yardage back, has 70 yards and eight touchdowns. Jackson is 44-of-74 passing for 572 yards and five touchdowns. His primary receivers are Cole Wood (19-214, 1), Deiontrae Wheat (13-159, 2) and Jonathan Shepherd (12-219, 3). Wheat and Shepherd at underclassmen. … OLB Adrian Johnson continues to be the anchor of the Roughriders’ defense with 95 tackles, 29 TFL and 10 Sk. For the season, the Center defense has 25 sacks, 8 picks and 11 fumble recoveries.
JOE’S PICK: Kilgore by 21
Bullard (3-5, 0-4) at Henderson (7-1, 3-1); 7:30 p.m., Friday; Lion Stadium
Bullard comes into its next to last regular-season game, looking to snap a four-game losing streak and post its first district victory of the year. That won’t be easy for the Panthers against once-beaten Henderson. The Lions are ranked 9th in this week’s TheOldCoach.com’s Class 4A Division I poll. A couple of teams going in opposite directions. Bullard enters the contest, averaging 186 yards passing and 117 rushing, and 22.1 points per game. QB Cleet Bowman is 95 of 188 passing for 1,478 yards and 11 touchdowns. His favorite receivers have been RB Tre Crayton (21-399) and Nic Costas (16-348). Another one of his receivers, TE Major Tennison (6-5, 245), verbally committed to the University of Alabama earlier this week. Crayton is also the leading rusher with 379 yards and five touchdowns. Luke Bowman is next with 326 yards and two scores. … Henderson’s defense has been stingy, allowing an average of only 16.3 points per contest, and is coming off a shutout win last week against Center. The Lions leading tacklers are ILB Keaton Hand and OLB Ty Blanton. Hand has 90 tackles and 5 TFL, while Blanton has 84 stops, 11 TFL and 4 Sk. Against Center, the Lions dominated with 10 TFL and 7 Sk. … Bullard’s ILBs Thomas Brooks and Donovan Yeley, along with S Tre Crayton, have anchored the Panthers’ defense. Brooks has 54 tackles and 7 TFL, while Yeley follows with 53 and 2. Crayton is next with 47 stops. … Henderson’s offense is averaging 44.8 points per game and has plenty of playmakers in TCU verbal commits WR Trestan Ebner and RB Lakendrick VanZandt, as well as QB Trae Hall and WR Matthew Childers. Hall is 67 of 101 passing for 1,003 yards and 16 touchdowns with only three interceptions. Ebner has 31 receptions for 635 yards and 12 touchdowns, after a six-catch, 151-yard, four-touchdown performance against the Roughriders. Vanzandt is the leading rusher with 831 yards and 10 touchdowns on 91 carries. Childers, who was the QB last season, has rushed for 132 yards, and has 22 receptions for 241 yards and three touchdowns. Hall has also proven himself to be a capable runner, when necessary, rushing for 499 yards and five TDs.
JOE’S PICK: Henderson by 34
Palestine (5-3, 2-2) at Carthage (5-2, 2-2); 7:30 p.m., Friday; Bulldog Stadium
Both teams come into this matchup with a couple of district losses, but still very much in the thick of the playoff race as district winds down. Another similarity is both have won their last two contests. Carthage is No. 13 in TheOldCoach.com’s Class 4A Division I rankings this week. After eight weeks, though, Palestine has turned its football fortunes around with five wins under Coach Robby Clark in his second year at the school. Pretty remarkable, after winning just once in each of the previous two seasons. … The Wildcats are averaging 311 yards and 28.3 ppg, and have been pretty balanced doing it, rushing for 1,297 yards and 15 touchdowns, and passing for 1,197 and 14 scores. RB Irric Deyon needs just 81 yards to reach 1,000. He has 919, and has scored 8 times and averages 6.0 yards per carry. QB Claude Rodgers follows with 205 yards rushing and 2 TDs to go with a 43.8 passing percentage completion ratio (56 of 128 for 1,149 yards) and 13 touchdowns. His primary receivers have been Jhamonte Milton (17-395, 5), Tyler Gray (15-218, 1) and Toney Dever (13-284, 9). The Wildcats have outscored their opponents 227 to 167. … Defensively, the ’Dawgs are led by a trio of LBs Jase Dixon, Mikael Gates and Jose DeJulian. Dixon has 72 tackles, 8 TFL and 2 FR, while Gates (71, 7, 2) and DeJulian (71, 7, 2) are close behind. … Offensively, Carthage enters the contest, averaging 434 yards and 34.8 points per outing. QB Kason Davis is 122 of 207 passing for 1,871 yards and 21 touchdowns. His favorite receivers are Dee Bowens (34-566) and Dewaylon Ingram (31-484). RB Keaontay Ingram continues to be the leading rusher with 1,017 yards on 141 carries. … Anchoring the Palestine defense, which is allowing 21.2 ppg, are CB Josh Williams (91, 19 TFL) and LB Edward Reese (76, 19 TFL, 2 SK).
JOE’S PICK: Carthage by 20
Gilmer (7-1, 3-0) at Atlanta (5-3, 1-2); 7:30 p.m., Friday; Rabbit Stadium
District 7-4A Division II leader Gilmer, No. 4 in this week’s TheOldCoach.com’s 4A Division II poll, visits Atlanta with the Rabbits needing a win to keep their hopes intact for a berth in the upcoming playoffs with only one regular-season game remaining on the schedule, after tonight. The Rabbits are No. 20 in TheOldCoach.com’s Division II rankings. … The Buckeyes are averaging 49.1 points and 542.8 yards per game. Of that total yardage, 2,897 (362.1 apg is passing) and 1,446 (180.7 is rushing). QB Aaron ’Poppy’ Brown is 199 of 296 passing for 2,834 yards and 26 touchdowns. He has suffered eight interceptions. RB Red Jones and Oklahoma State commit LaMarcus Morton have been his primary receivers. Jones has 38 receptions for 532 yards and six touchdowns, while Morton has 37 catches for 724 and six. RB Qua Heath isn’t too far behind Jones and Morton with 31 receptions for 443 yards and five scores. RB Kameryn Cuevas is the Bux leading rusher with 319 yards and four touchdowns. Rashaad Ward follows with 301 and four, respectively. … Atlanta’s defense, led by OLB Tristan Allen, ILB Gerrod Oliver and S Dontay Casey will be charged with throttling Gilmer’s high-powered offense. Allen (76 tackles, 9 TFL and 3 Sk), Oliver (75, 5 TFL) and Casey (71, 2 TFL) have anchored a defense, which is allowing an average of 174.8 rushing and 92.5 passing yards per game. … Atlanta’s offense is averaging 319.8 yards and 28.8 points per outing. The Rabbits have shown they can run or pass, rushing for 1,606 and 21 touchdowns, and passing for 953 and nine touchdowns. RB Jawan King is the leading rusher with 438 yards and four touchdowns. He averages 7.9 yards per carry. Kelton Young follows with 407 yards on 59 carries (6.9 apc) and five scores. QB Leighton Henson, who has rushed for 335 yards and five touchdowns, is 57 of 115 passing for 904 yards and nine TDs. His primary receivers are Hunter Roberts (18-166, 2) and Trin Taylor (12-247, 3). … Gilmer’s Black Flag defense, led by La. Tech commit S Kollin Hurt and LB Jeremy Kelly, are allowing an average of 30.8 points, 200 rushing and 130 passing yards per contest. The Buckeyes have six interceptions, nine fumble recoveries and 24 sacks. Individually, Hurt has 79 tackles, 2 TFL and 2 Int., while Kelly has 74 tackles, 7 TFL and 3 Sk to go along with a fumble recovery and an interception.
JOE’S PICK: Gilmer by 14
Gladewater (6-1, 2-1) at Pittsburg (5-3, 2-1); 7:30 p.m., Friday; Pirate Stadium
This is a matchup with definite playoff-seeding implications resting on the outcome since both teams have lost just once in 7-4A Division II play. And, after tonight, both have only one remaining regular-season game. … Gladewater, ranked 9th in this week’s TheOldCoach.com’s 4A Division II poll, is averaging 37.8 points per game for the season, and 37.3 against the district. The Bears’ offense is averaging 427 yards a game: 365 of that, coming on the ground. To slow Gladewater, you’ve got to stop the run. The RBs Isaiah Davis and Darnell McKnight, along with QB Cameron Callaway, have accounted for 2,127 yards rushing with Davis leading with 852 yards and 13 touchdowns. Callaway has 655 yards and 13 touchdowns, while McKnight follows with 620 and 3, respectively. Callaway is 22 of 43 passing for 429 yards and 3 scores. His favorite receivers are Tyler Glenn and Daniel Robertson. Glenn has eight catches for 189 yards and a touchdown, while Robertson has six for 124. … The Pirates’ defense, anchored by SS Jakeivian Hughes with 80 tackles, 5 TFL and an interception, and DT Bradlee Warrick (77, 13 and 8 SK), is allowing an average of 34.6 ppg. … Pittsburg, meanwhile, enters the contest, averaging 407 yards and 38.8 points per contest. Soph. QB Jaylon Jimmerson is 88 of 141 passing for 1,167 yards and 15 touchdowns, with only four interceptions. The Pirates’ leading rusher is Deldric Shields, who has 832 yards and 12 touchdowns on 137 carries. Following Shields is Trajon Sheppard (76-352, 2). Stephen F. Austin verbal commit WR Dejour Dowell is Jimmerson’s favorite receiver with 40 receptions for 686 yards and eight touchdowns. … The Bears’ defense, led by LBs Bryson Oliver and Michael Batchelor, is limiting opponents to an average of just 14.4 points and 182.8 yards per game. Oliver has 63 tackles, 19 TFL, 7 SK and 2 INT, while Batchelor’s numbers are 53, 6, 2, and 3 FR.
JOE’S PICK: Gladewater by 10
Spring Hill (3-5, 0-3) at Pleasant Grove (2-6, 1-2); 7:30 p.m., Friday; Hawk Stadium, Texarkana
Pleasant Grove and Spring Hill are looking to finish on a positive note. The Panthers, improved over a year ago, have yet to win against a district opponent, while the Hawks, ranked No. 25 in this week’s TheOldCoach.com’s Class 4A Division II poll, snapped a five-game losing skid last week against Pittsburg. …The Panthers are averaging 21.5 points per contest, and have been a run-first team with RB Zach Tulpa leading the way with 813 yards rushing and eight touchdowns on 154 carries. Soph. QB Dayson Adaway follows with 446 yards and five rushing scores on 90 carries. Spring Hill’s offense has gained 869 yards and scored 22 touchdowns. All but 319 of that and one touchdown came on the ground. Adaway is 17 of 49 passing for 178 yards. His primary target has been WR Ryan Willis (20-194, 1). … Pleasant Grove’s defensive leaders are jr. LBs Caleb Porchia (71, 1 TFL, 1 SK, 1 FR) and Xavier Benson (62, 2, 3, 2). … Spring Hill’s defense continues to be led by a couple of Soph. LBs Kaden Peppers (68 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 Sk, 1 Int.) and Vaughn Bufkin (63, 5, 5, 2 FR). They will be asked to slow a Hawks’ offense averaging 20.7 points per game. FB Logan Wesley leads Pleasant Grove’s ground-and-pound offense with 569 yards rushing and six touchdowns. TB Keshawn Jones follows with 393 yards and three TDs. QB T.J. Coles has rushed for 347 yards and eight touchdowns. He is 22 of 60 passing for 339 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions. His favorite receiver is Wesley with seven catches for 103 yards and a touchdown.
JOE’S PICK: Pleasant Grove by 28