Alto Hopes to Avoid Becoming Third Consecutive East Texas Team to Fall to Mart
Class A Division I Region III
Alto Yellowjackets (11-2)
Mart Panthers (10-2)
7:30 p.m. Friday
Bruce Field, Athens
Alto: Keith Gardner
Mart: Rusty Nail
Road To Regional Final
- Bi-district: def. Harleton, 35-9
- Area: def. Hull-Daisetta, 35-28
- Regional semifinal: def. Bosqueville, 35-14
- Bi-district: bye
- Area: def. Pineland West Sabine, 69-15
- Regional semifinal: def. San Augustine, 49-21
Next week: Winner plays Shiner (11-1) or Mason (12-0) in a 1A Division I state semifinal.
- RB Jacolby Whitaker (273 carries, 2,443 yards, 34 TDs; 10 catches, 129 yards, 1 TD)
- QB Zac Sturns (47 of 103, 878 yards, 10 TDs, 2 INTs; 197 carries, 1,160 yards, 12 TDs)
- WR Anfernee Black (18 catches, 316 yards, 4 TDs)
- RB Jyran Shaw (70 carries, 564 yards, 5 TDs)
- DB Joe Cruz
- WR/DB Jonathan Pope (6 catches, 121 yards, 2 TDs)
- WR David Berryman (8 catches, 148 yards, 1 TD)
- QB/DB D’Nerian Thomas (50 of 100, 903 yards, 12 TDs, 0 INTs; 188 carries, 1,633 yards, 20 TDs; 63 tackles, 3 INTs, 1 forced fumble, 8 pass breakups)
- RB/LB DeMarcus Cosby (120 carries, 1,501 yards, 18 TDs; 111 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles)
- LB Collin Nail (121 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles)
- LB Shannon Cordell (109 tackles, 4 sacks, 1 forced fumble)
- WR Lane Cobbs (22 catches, 397 yards, 7 TDs; 19 carries, 107 yards, 3 TDs)
- ATH Quentin Bryant (20 carries, 456 yards, 8 TDs; 12 catches, 325 yards, 5 TDs)
- RB Marquis Westbrooks (45 carries, 324 yards, 3 TDs)
Just the facts
- Alto averages 37.2 points per game and allows 20.0.
- Mart averages 43.8 points per game and allows 20.3.
- Alto averages 411.9 total yards per game (327.9 rushing, 84.0 passing).
- Mart averages 446.3 total yards per game (367.2 rushing, 79.1 passing).
- Mart allows 315.9 total yards per game (225.2 rushing, 90.7 passing).
- Alto averages 43.4 rushes per game and 10.6 pass attempts.
- Mart averages 38.4 rushes per game and 8.9 pass attempts.
- Alto has scored 35 points in each of its three playoff games.
- The Yellowjackets have outscored their first three playoff opponents 105-51.
- Mart has outscored its first two playoff opponents 118-36.
Key matchup: Alto's defense vs. Mart's running game. Both teams enter this contest with potent rushing attacks, but the dominance with which Mart has dispatched its first two playoff opponents -- West Sabine and San Augustine teams that Alto shares a district with -- means that the Jackets will be decided underdogs in this contest. That also means that the burden is on Alto when it comes to which rushing attack is the more critical for the opponent to stop. There's no doubt that the duo of Jacolby Whitaker, one of East Texas' top rushers, and Zac Sturns present a tough challenge for a Mart defense that has limited two quality offenses to 18.0 points per game in two playoff contests, but D'Nerian Thomas, DeMarcus Cosby, and the Panther ground game are rolling over anyone in their path right now. The 59.0 points per game Mart has produced in two playoff games puts the impetus on Alto's defensive front in this matchup.
Don't be surprised if: Mart pulls away in the second half from another District 10-A Division I team and into the state semifinals. Not many teams eliminate all three playoff participants from a particular district, but that's what Mart is on the verge of doing. Alto must play turnover-free football. As the saying goes, Alto's best defense may be its offense. The Jackets need to sustain long drives, finishing them with touchdowns at every opportunity. Beating Mart definitely won't be easy, but Alto has the matching playoff pedigree to go toe-to-toe with the Panthers. The question is, can Alto contain D'Nerian Thomas and DeMarcus Cosby enough to give the Jackets a chance at the upset?