Tatum Eagles (4-4, 2-1)

Vs.

Atlanta Rabbits (7-1, 2-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Rabbit Stadium, Atlanta

 

Coaches
  • Tatum: Andy Evans
  • Atlanta: Matt McClure

 

Last week

 

Next week
  • Tatum: vs. Pleasant Grove, Nov. 7
  • Atlanta: at Spring Hill, Nov. 7

 

Playmakers

Tatum

  • LB Kyshaun Smith, Sr., 6-1, 180 (82 tackles, 2 for loss)
  • RB/LB Devon Boyd, Sr., 5-10, 180 (37 carries, 309 rushing yards, 8 catches, 71 receiving yards; 48 tackles, 2 FFs, 1 INT)
  • ATH Chaston Brooks, Sr., 6-0, 190 (28 of 46, 422 passing yards, 10 passing TDs, 4 INT, 24 carries, 139 rushing yards; 38 tackles, 1 INT)
  • WR Deyanta Roberson, Sr., 6-2, 190 (22 catches, 334 yards, 7 TDs)
  • QB J.D. Taylor, Jr., 6-2, 180 (40 of 79, 570 passing yards, 3 passing TDs, 48 carries, 230 rushing yards, 4 rushing TDs)
  • DB Jordan Nelson, Sr., 6-0, 170 (50 tackles, 1 for loss, INT, 3 PBU)
  • WR Martin Williams, Sr., 6-3, 190 (18 catches, 301 yards, 2 TDs)

 

Atlanta

  • QB Chase Musgrove, Sr., 5-11, 175
  • RB DeQuan Allen, Sr., 6-0, 185
  • LB Cameron Schulz, Sr., 6-0, 200
  • WR Eddrick King, Sr.
  • OL Cole Davis, Sr., 5-10, 245
  • DB Jeremy Smith, Jr.
  • DB D’Corey Larry, Jr.
  • DL Tristan Allen, Soph.

 

Just the facts
  • Tatum has delivered a mixed bag against some of the region's top teams. It decisively beat a smaller Newton school in its opening game, gave a dominant Gilmer squad its best game of the year and got blown out against District 6-4A Division II leading Gladewater.
  • Taking on Atlanta is Tatum's fourth shot against a team dreaming of a deep playoff run.
  • Atlanta is 7-1 and tied with Tatum for second place in the district at 2-1 in league play. It lost to Gladewater, but the Rabbits turned in a better performance.
  • Tatum linebacker Kyshaun Smith picked up an offer from North Texas on Sunday. It's his fourth college option alongside Houston, Texas State and Memphis.
  • Distance and Tatum's fluctuating student enrollment have kept the two teams from meeting consistently, but the schools have met a few times in recent history.
  • The Rabbits and Eagles have met seven times since 1995. Tatum holds a 7-1 advantage, including three playoff wins and three non-district wins.
  • Atlanta last defeated Tatum in 2009.
  • Tatum won a non-district series during the 2010 and 2011 seasons. That's the last time the schools faced each other.
  • The winner of Friday's game will own second place in the district outright.
  • The winner would enter a technical tie with Gladewater for the district lead if Gladewater falls to Spring Hill at home.
  • That being said, Gladewater has defeated both Atlanta and Tatum.
  • Both Atlanta and Tatum could use the win for playoff security. Atlanta takes on Spring Hill next week while Tatum battles Pleasant Grove. All four teams are alive in the race entering Friday.

 

 

Tatum's Kyshaun Smith receiver an offer from North Texas on Sunday. He has a team-best 82 tackles this season. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Atlanta's offense versus Tatum's defense. The Eagles never seem to have a shortage of talent, but no one on the team has risen to become a top-tier player in any of the major statistical categories.

Tatum has recorded three interceptions and two forced fumbles through eight games. The team ranks fourth in the six-team district in terms of points allowed with 211.

The Eagles defense will have to bring its A-game against Atlanta. The Rabbits have scored 48 or more points in five of eight games and have not been held to fewer than 28 points except for against Gladewater's impressive defense. Matt McClure's team has scored 215 more points than it has given up.

Now is the time for Eagles if they want to breathe with relative ease next week against Pleasant Grove. With a loss Friday, there's a chance Tatum could draw Gilmer in the first round and a small possibility of the Eagles missing the playoffs altogether if Spring Hill can pull back-to-back upsets against Gladewater and Atlanta to close the season.

The Eagles will be challenged by Atlanta's defense, which has not given up more than 27 points in seven of eight games and 36 points as a season-worst, but they can't even worry about that until they get some stops against the Rabbits.

Don't be surprised if: Tatum plays a complete game. The Eagles are an underdog on paper, but they belong to a program that consistently wins. A good chunk of its playmakers have been on very successful teams before, so it's plausible they pull it all together and make a serious stand against Atlanta.

As it is entering Friday, however, the Rabbits have been the more consistent team and appear to have the high ground.

Atlanta's Cameron Schulz runs back an interception during the Rabbits' 56-27 win over Liberty-Eylau on Sept. 26. (Evan Lewis, ETSN.fm)