Tatum Eagles (4-1)

vs.

Atlanta Rabbits (3-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday
Rabbit Stadium, Atlanta

Coaches

  • Tatum: Craig Barker
  • Atlanta: Matt McClure
Last week

Next week
  • Tatum: at Diboll, Oct. 7
  • Atlanta: at Pittsburg, Oct. 7
Playmakers

Tatum

  • DL/LB D’Torian Smith, Sr., 6-3, 226 (committed to Air Force)
  • TE Shay Rodgers, Sr., 6-4, 240
  • OL George Blanton, Sr., 6-0, 270
  • DB Malcolm Davis, Sr., 5-10, 150
  • RB LeMarcus Harmon, Sr., 5-10, 200
  • RB Cedric White, Jr., 5-9, 150
  • WR Spencer Liles, Sr., 6-3, 175
  • DL J.T. Norris, Jr., 5-11, 210

Atlanta

  • LB/TE Tristan Allen, Sr., 6-4, 218
  • LB/WR Desmond Robinson, Sr., 6-3, 205
  • RB/DB Kelton Young, Sr., 5-10, 180
  • OL/LB Christian Oliver, Sr.
  • LB Danny Dickerson, Sr.
  • OL/DL Ethan Mauldin, Sr.
  • QB/DB Layton Henson, Sr., 6-2, 180
  • WR/DB Desmond Webster, Sr., 5-11, 180
Just the facts
  • Friday's game is the non-district finale for both Atlanta and Tatum.
  • Atlanta will move on to District 7-4A Division II competition next week. Tatum will simultaneously begin its District 8-4A Division II schedule.
  • Since the two teams sit in adjacent districts, there is real potential the two teams could meet again in the postseason. As early as a first-round game.
  • Atlanta and Tatum lost their single games to the same opponent -- Henderson of Class 4A Division I, which is also the only common opponent.
  • Henderson defeated Atlanta, 44-13, in Week 1 in Henderson. The Eagles lost to Henderson, 45-13, Week 2 in Tatum.
  • Since the Rabbits fell to Henderson, they have defeated opponents by a margin of 124-32 through three games.
  • Tatum, which lost to Henderson in Week 2 and has played one more game than Atlanta, hit its highest scoring total of the season last week against Pittsburg in a 49-21 win. It had not scored more than 28 points in its prior four games.
  • Atlanta and Tatum were district opponents the past two seasons. The Rabbits won both of those head-to-head games.
  • Tatum is ranked sixth in this week's ETSN.fm Class 4A poll. Atlanta is ranked seventh.
Tatum running back LeMarcus Harmon hit 700 yards rushing last week. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Atlanta's defensive front versus Tatum's run-oriented offense.

The Eagles' offensive approach has not changed all that much despite the shift to new head coach Craig Barker. They're a running team with two ball carriers more than halfway to 1,000-yard seasons in senior LeMarcus Harmon and junior Cedric White.

Tatum has a simple approach. But simple does not mean easy to stop.

Barker's team will try to do things on its own terms with the ball in its hands.

If it breaks off big runs for scores, that's great. It is methodical drives, however, that give the Eagles their best chance to win. Atlanta's offense has averaged 41 points per game the past three weeks, so it's important to keep that opposing unit off the field.

Atlanta linebacker Desmond Robinson holds college football offers from UTEP and Wyoming. (ETSN.fm)

The Rabbits' defense is coming off a 52-0 shutout of New Boston, a Class 3A Division II program, last week. A week prior, it held a Liberty-Eylau offense that hung 55 points on Gilmer and 37 points on Texas High in fairly close losses to 26 points.

Linebackers Tristan Allen and Desmond Robinson, seniors, are both NCAA Division I FBS scholarship offer holders. They're at perfect spots to directly impede Tatum's ground game.

An Atlanta win hinges on the ability to produce tackles for negative yardage. Tatum is hesitant to throw and, more so than most regional teams, is in a bad spot when it gets behind schedule in down and distance.

Don't be surprised if: Turnovers determine the outcome of the game.

When you talk about Atlanta and Tatum, you're talking about teams that very rarely get outclassed by the opposition. It's hard to imagine either team thoroughly winning all of the important match ups or piling up points without blowback.

Interceptions and fumbles recovered are the great trump cards against teams with no glaring personnel weaknesses. Those mistakes allow the opposition opportunities to swiftly build or break down multi-possession score differences.

Tatum linebacker and Air Force commitment D'Torian Smith. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)