2013 East Texas Football Games of the Year, No. 23: Jefferson at White Oak
You'd be hard-pressed to find another 2A district in the state as competitive top-to-bottom as 9-2A Division I. And a lot could be on the line when Jefferson travels to White Oak on Nov. 8 for the regular-season finale.
The final playoff spot came down to last season's matchup, a 44-27 win for White Oak, which put the Roughnecks in a three-way tie for first with Tatum and Troup. Jefferson missed out on the playoffs despite a 7-3 overall record.
While four teams per district in 2A make the playoffs now, there could be at least one good team out of the district's six that could miss out on the postseason.
Jefferson loses more than half of its starters from 2012 and longtime head coach Jerry Bennett, but there appears to be several key pieces in line for new coach Derek Simmons.
The Bulldogs return quarterback Brayden Varnell, but the strength for Jefferson should lie with its interior lines. Junior offensive lineman Ryan Cox (6-5, 293) is already drawing big-time interest from high-major college programs and defensive lineman Landin Templin (6-2, 272) is back after a productive 2012 campaign.
White Oak has 15 starters returning and is filled with playmakers on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Dylan Gale is back to pilot a potentially explosive offense that came into its own at the end of last season, averaging almost 38 points per game in the Roughnecks' final seven. Jansen McCurdy was Gale's favorite target, pulling down 18 TD receptions and averaging 25.8 yards per catch in 2012.
Defensive end Hayden Nichols (6-3, 215) and defensive backs Jake Pullen (6-1, 160) and Cass Carr will provide steady play on the defensive side.