Athens’ Rushing Attack Meets Ultimate First-Round Challenge vs. Kilgore
Class 3A Division I Region II
Kilgore Bulldogs (8-1)
Athens Hornets (4-6)
7:30 p.m. Friday
Wildcat Stadium, Whitehouse
Kilgore: Mike Wood
Athens: Paul Essary
Next week: Winner plays Paris or Kaufman in a 3A Division I Region II semifinal.
- MLB A.J. Davis, Sr., 6-0, 220 (97 tackles, 10 for loss, 1 sack, 2 forced fumbles)
- DT LaDarrin Anthony, Jr., 6-0, 230 (71 tackles, 18 for loss, 8.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 2 recoveries)
- QB Cooper Coldiron, Sr., 5-11, 170 (48 of 92, 959 yards, 8 TDs, 3 INTs; 5 rush TDs)
- WR/CB Benny Colbert, Jr., 5-10, 175 (15 touches, 121 yards, 1 TD; 32 tackles, 3 for loss, 3 INTs, 1 forced fumble, 2 recoveries, 2 kick blocks)
- WR/CB Q Brewster, Jr. (8 catches, 143 yards; 23 tackles, 4 INTs, 1 forced fumble, 1 kick block)
- OL Clay Wiley, Jr., 6-0, 280
- S Hector Peralez, Sr., 6-0, 175 (41 tackles, 2 INTs, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovery, 4 pass breakups)
- DE D.Q. Scott, Jr., 5-11, 225 (35 tackles, 12 for loss, 6 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 1 recovery)
- FB/DE Cornelius Bell, Sr., 6-1, 225 (21 carries, 122 yards, 3 TDs; 20 tackles, 5 for loss, 2 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries)
- OLB Jake Brantley, Jr., 5-10, 185 (71 tackles, 6 for loss, 2 sacks, 2 INTs, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovery)
- RB Devin Hall (28 carries, 168 yards, 3 TDs last week vs. Brownsboro)
- RB Raheem Miller, Sr., 5-9, 185 (16 carries, 167 yards, 2 TDs last week vs. Brownsboro)
- LB Chris Jefferson, Jr., 6-2, 200 (24-yard INT return TD last week vs. Brownsboro)
- QB Anthony Sanders, Jr., 5-11, 185 (3 of 8, 64 passing yards, 1 TD pass, 8 carries, 73 yards, 1 rush TD last week vs. Brownsboro)
- WR George Hutson, Sr., 6-0, 185 (22-yard TD catch last week vs. Brownsboro)
- TE/DE Nic Fincher, Jr., 6-2, 240
Just the facts
- Kilgore averages 29.6 points per game and allows 7.4.
- Athens averages 24.1 points per game and allows 28.7.
- Kilgore averages 289.8 total yards per game (183.2 rushing, 106.6 passing) and allows 203.0 (109.2 rushing, 93.8 passing).
- Gilmer's 20 points last week vs. Kilgore marks the most points the Bulldogs have allowed in game this season.
- Athens has allowed fewer than 20 points only three times this season.
- Kilgore's loss to Gilmer snapped an eight-game winning streak.
- Athens has won three consecutive games after starting the season 1-6.
- Kilgore is 6-0-2 vs. Athens since 1980.
- Kilgore won the last meeting 14-6 in 1995.
Key matchup: Athens' offensive line vs. Kilgore's defensive line. Athens rushed for more than 400 yards in last week's playoff-clinching blowout of Brownsboro to cap the District 15-3A schedule, but the Hornets will face a defensive line this week much different from the one they saw a week ago. Kilgore has shut down virtually all of its opponents. The Bulldogs held Gilmer to more than 100 yards fewer and 17 points below the Buckeyes' averages. Kilgore leans on a defensive front led by two juniors -- tackle LaDarrin Anthony and end D.Q. Scott. That duo has combined for 30 tackles for loss, including 14 1/2 sacks, to pace a Kilgore defense allowing 7.4 points per game. Oh by the way ... all-state-caliber middle linebacker A.J. Davis plays behind those guys and leads the Bulldogs in tackles. Kilgore coach Mike Wood said that's the plan, for the D-line to often occupy blocks and play technique to allow Davis, Jake Brantley, and Kris Haynes to make all the tackles. That trio of linebackers is first, second, and fourth, respectively, on the team in tackles. In other words, Athens must get its best effort of the season from its offensive line if the Hornets are going to spring for significant rushing yardage with Devin Hall, Raheem Miller, Anthony Sanders and company vs. Kilgore's stingy, physical front.
Don't be surprised if: Kilgore overwhelms Athens' ground game at the point of attack and the Bulldogs wear down the Hornets. With nine games of experience under their belt, it's obvious that the Bulldogs will ride their defense as far as they can. Quarterback Cooper Coldiron gave Kilgore a spark with the zone-read run game vs. Gilmer, so it won't be surprising if the 'Dogs incorporate more of that into their offense during the postseason. But chances are they will go as far as the top statistical defense in East Texas will take them, and that starts with a first-round meeting with Athens. The Hornets ride a three-game wave of positive momentum into this matchup, but all signs point to Kilgore being a heavy favorite. Athens' best shot at a big upset is protecting the ball, running the clock, and gradually moving downfield with its rushing attack. That won't be easy at all since the Hornets will be forced to run into the teeth of Kilgore's biggest strength: it's defensive front.