Canton Eagles (5-4, 1-3)

Vs.

Bullard Panthers (6-3, 2-2)

7:30 p.m.

Panther Stadium, Bullard

 

Coaches
  • Canton: Robert Ivey
  • Bullard: Shannon Wilson

 

Last week
  • Canton: defeated Emory Rains, 27-25
  • Bullard: defeated Melissa, 55-35

 

Next week
  • Canton: TBD
  • Bullard: TBD

 

Just the facts
  • Bullard and Canton will be meeting for the fifth time in the past 10 seasons.
  • The schools played each other in district battles from 2004 through 2007. Canton won all four games.
  • Bullard has not been in the playoffs since 2011, but it is in outstanding shape entering Week 11.
  • The Panthers are in a three-way tie with Melissa and Nevada Community for second place and District 5-4A Division II, like all other UIL districts, has four playoff spots available.
  • Bullard has a plus-five point differential in the case of a tie with any other team in the district. That is, by far, the best point differential in the league among teams in the tie.
  • Canton has made the playoffs the past two seasons and in three of the last four years, but its postseason outlook this year is troubling with the worst point differential in the league.
  • The best hope for Canton is a blowout win against Bullard and either Melissa or Nevada Community winning in huge fashion in their simultaneous head-to-head game.
  • The realistic bottom line, Bullard's playoff seeding is on the line and Canton could sneak in with a big win and major help.

 

Playmakers

Canton

  • DE Samuel Miller, Sr., 6-3, 220 (committed to UNT)
  • WR/LB Brazos Hesskew, Jr. (25 tackles, five for loss in last week's win against Emory Rains)
  • WR Garrett Denbow, Sr., 6-2, 195
  • OG Kennan Ivory, Sr.
  • QB Hunter Moore, Soph., 5-11, 190

 

Bullard

  • QB Connor Mebane, Sr., 6-0, 175 (61 of 119, 1,017 passing yards, 12 TDs, 5 INTs, 106 carries, 789 yards, 10 TDs)
  • RB Brentavian Henderson, Sr., 5-11, 190 (103 carries, 862 yards, 10 TDs)
  • WR Major Tennison, Soph., 6-5, 220 (23 catches, 452 yards, 6 TDs)
  • FS Tray Crayton, Soph., 5-8, 170 (73 tackles, 2 INTs)
  • DL Brandon Mullican, Jr., 6-2, 198 (30 tackles, 9 for loss, 1 sack)
Canton defensive lineman Samuel Miller, a North Texas commitment, is the headliner along a good Eagles defensive line. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Bullard's offense versus Canton's defense. The Eagles need to score points early and often to give themselves a chance at an 11th game, but it's going to start with containing Panthers quarterback Connor Mebane and an offense that has diversified since the start of the season.

Canton comes into the game with some favorable on defense. Defensive end Samuel Miller, a North Texas commitment, is the guy to look out for on a solid defensive line. Backing him up will be linebacker Brazos Hesskew, the ETSN.fm/Dairy Queen Defensive Player of the Week winner from Week 10.

The Eagles defense will have to work quickly against a good offensive group. Mebane has more than 1,000 passing yards entering the game and he's in the top tier of East Texas quarterbacks when it comes to running the ball. Senior running back Brentavian Henderson averages about 96 yards per game and big sophomore receiver Major Tennison has emerged as Mebane's favorite target through the air.

Since a majority of Bullard's offense runs through Mebane, the Eagles will have to play aggressive against him. There are only 48 minutes to score a serious amount of points, so they will need to knock the Panthers out of offensive drives early and turn around and score quickly.

Bullard running back Brentavian Henderson averages about 96 yards per game. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Not only is Canton playing Bullard, it's simultaneously playing against the loser of the Melissa-Nevada Community game for a potential point differential win.

Canton will obviously need a big game out of sophomore quarterback Hunter Moore. He replaced injured star Chandler Eiland in the fifth game of the year and is developing nicely as a potential two-year solution going into the future. Finding receivers Garrett Denbow and Tre Fitzgerald early gives the Eagles a shot at getting back into the postseason for the third consecutive season.

Don't be surprised if: Bullard takes its time on offense. The Panthers would definitely be served positively in the seeding race by minimizing Canton. Burning clock with the running game and Mebane on the ground can limit the Eagles' possessions and help it maintain its own point differential lead against other current two-win district teams.

Brazos Hesskew recorded 25 tackles, including five tackles for loss, in Canton's narrow win against Emory Rains on Friday. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)