Tyler Grace Community Cougars (1-0)

vs.

Canton Eagles (1-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday
Norris Birdwell Stadium, Canton

Coaches

  • Grace: Mike Maddox
  • Canton: Robert Ivey
Last week

Next week
  • Grace: vs. Waskom, Sept. 9
  • Canton: at Mabank, Sept. 9
Playmakers

Grace

  • QB Christopher Wilhelmi, Sr., 5-10, 155 (Questionable)
  • QB Braydon Stone, Soph., 5-10, 155
  • LB/RB Josh Spitzer, Sr., 6-0, 200
  • WR/DB Parker Ary, Sr., 6-0, 160
  • RB Uchenna Uduma, Soph., 5-8, 177
  • DL Ndukwe Uduma, Sr., 6-0, 220
  • OL Ronnie Baker, Sr., 6-1, 250

Canton

  • QB Hunter Moore, Sr., 5-11, 190
  • WR/DB Zach Brown, Sr., 6-0, 165
  • DL/QB Logan Willeford, Sr., 6-4, 220
  • OL/DL Kyle Adams, Sr., 6-2, 245
  • OL/DL Robert Riley, Sr., 5-10, 245
  • OL/DL Ivan Nelson, Sr., 5-11. 230
Just the facts
  • Friday's meeting will be the third consecutive season Canton and Grace have met on the field.
  • Both sides have a win in the span.
  • The Eagles won in 2014, 49-28, at a neutral site. The Cougars took a 31-21 win last season under current starting quarterback Christopher Wilhelmi's leadership in Canton.
  • Wilhelmi is questionable for Friday's game. He missed Grace's season opener against Waxahachie Life -- a 46-0 win in spite of his absence.
  • Sophomore Braydon Stone will start in lieu of Wilhelmi, if necessary. Stone got the nod last week.
  • Canton enjoyed the higher-profile win. It outlasted Brownsboro -- a playoff team a season ago -- by a score of 56-34 in front of a home crowd.
  • Grace has two non-district games remaining after facing Canton. It will host Waskom next week and closes the exhibition segment of its schedule with Malakoff. Both opponents are ranked in the Associated Press' Class 3A poll.
  • The Eagles also have two more non-district games after Grace. They will move on to face Crandall and Spring Hill.
Grace defensive tackle Ndukewe Uduma should be a physical challenge for Canton's offensive line.

Key matchup: Canton's collective offense versus Grace's defensive front.

The Cougars' defense, at large, is young. Granted it is working with a shutout in its favor, Canton will easily be a better test for eight new starters to three established players on the Grace defense. The secondary is largely untested and the front will be working against a very good set of established 4A offensive linemen in Kyle Adams, Ivan Nelson and Robert Riley.

Canton is reaping the grim benefit of losing former star quarterback Chandler Eiland, who signed with Louisiana-Monroe and is now with Kilgore College, to injury a few weeks after defeating Grace in 2014. Now-senior quarterback Hunter Moore is essentially a three-year starter, a passing threat and very well could lead the team in rushing yardage this season. He has essentially become Eiland.

It's in Grace's best interest to bait Moore into the run, but the Eagles certainly are going to want to test the opposing young secondary.

If the Cougars' defensive front can disrupt Moore and the Canton receivers with a few big pass rushes near the start of the game, they give their own high-powered and experienced offense a chance to build an early lead. That's a big if against a strong offensive line, though.

Don't be surprised if: Neither team can pull away. If starting quarterback Christopher Wilhelmi is unavailable for a second consecutive week, backup signal caller Braydon Stone is a similar threat in the running game with experienced runners alongside him in the backfield. If Grace runs frequently and successfully, like it did last week against a lesser opponent, Canton will either have to match it each time out or up its own tempo if it falls behind. At that point, maybe Grace's new secondary will step up and surprise the Eagles.

If Wilhelmi is available -- off a 2,00-yard passing and 1,00-yard rushing season -- Canton's task of matching will be much more difficult.