Class 4A Division I Playoffs

Area Round

Athens Hornets (8-3)

Vs.

No. 4 Kennedale Wildcats (11-0)

7:30 p.m.
City Bank Stadium, Forney

 

Coaches
  • Athens: Paul Essary
  • Kennedale: Richard Barrett
Last week

 

Next week
  • Winner plays Argyle-Kaufman winner in Region II quarterfinals

 

Playmakers

Athens

  • RB Logan Fuller, Jr., 5-8, 210 (268 carries, 1,917 yards, 21 TDs)
  • RB Devin Hall, Sr., 5-9, 175 (168 carries, 1,249 yards, 13 TDs)
  • ATH Travon Fuller, Jr. (1,260 all-purpose yards, 18 TDs; 60 tackles, 7 INTs, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery; committed to Texas A&M)
  • LB Tim Tanner, Sr., 6-1, 180 (75 tackles, 5 INTs)
  • DE Chris Prox, Sr. (78 tackles, 9 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries)
  • MLB Noah Bush, Soph., 6-2, 215 (134 tackles, 1 sack, 1 fumble recovery)

 

Kennedale

  • RB Juwan Washington, Sr., 5-7, 171 (216 carries, 2,111 yards, 33 rushing TDs, 35 total TDs)
  • RB Ronald Hayes, Sr., 5-9, 175 (140 carries, 1,103 yards, 13 TDs)
  • CB Derrick Williams, Sr., 5-6, 130 (118 tackles, 1 INT, 5 forced fumbles)
  • LB Taylor Thibeau, Sr., 6-0, 185 (82 tackles, 7 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries)

 

Just the facts
  • Athens has reached the area round for the first time since 2010.
  • Kennedale has reached at least the area round of the playoffs since 2008.
  • Both teams are extremely run heavy. Athens has about a 90-yard advantage in the passing game with 451 yards, a very small amount compared to most Texas teams.
  • The Hornets and Wildcats both have more than 4,500 rushing yards this season.
  • Both teams played Kaufman this season. Kennedale won its game versus Kaufman, 56-13. Four weeks later, Athens defeated Kaufman 44-23.
  • Athens and Kennedale both have two runners with more than 1,000 yards.
  • Hornets running back Logan Fuller is on pace to break 2,000 rushing yards Friday. He needs 83 yards.
  • Fuller has averaged 174 yards per game.
  • Forney's City Bank Stadium is a 58-mile drive from Athens High School and a 50-mile drive from Kennedale.
  • Kennedale is a Ft. Worth suburb just south of Interstate 20 to the west of Arlington.

 

 

Hornets running back Devin Fuller has 1,249 yards on 168 carries this season. That's an average of more than seven yards per touch. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Athens running game versus Kennedale's running game. Both teams are extremely run-oriented and opponents have conceded the fact they're going to give up yardage on the ground.

Face-to-face, every possession is going to count. Both sides will burn the clock running the ball, so drives must count for something. This is a game where giving up the ball twice without a score could be a dangerous proposition. There just won't be many opportunities.

Athens juniors Logan Fuller and Devin Hall each have more than 1,000 rushing yards. Fuller will most likely eclipse 2,000 yards this season in the playoff game with plenty of time to spare.

Kennedale is remarkably similar. Senior back Juwan Washington has 2,111 yards and Ronald Hays has 1,103.

Neither team will try to throw with frequency. Both teams are under 500 yards passing this season. However, an occasional pass could definitely surprise the other team.

The objective in this game is to convert all possessions into touchdowns.

Don't be surprised if: the game comes down to the final eight minutes. A running team should be able to go 100 yards at a natural pace in that timespan. If the offenses match each other point for point, the winning team will likely be the one that puts the ball in the end zone with under three minutes to play.

The trailing offense would have to reach out of its comfort zone to get within scoring position before time expires. That flusters everyone. It's the point where teams abandon what they do best and hang hopes on big plays in succession. It's the prime time for a game-clinching turnover or turnover on downs.

Travon Fuller, a Texas A&M commit, is on a hot streak forcing turnovers. A Kennedale fumble could make all the difference. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)