Canton Eagles (0-0)

vs.

Tyler Grace Community Cougars (0-0)

7 p.m. Thursday

Tyler All Saints' Mewbourne Field

 

Coaches
  • Canton: Robert Ivey
  • Tyler Grace: Mike Maddox

 

Next Week
  • Canton: at Mabank, Sept. 5
  • Tyler Grace: vs. New Diana, Sept. 5

 

Playmakers

Canton

  • QB Chandler Eiland, Sr., 6-1, 186 (1,861 passing yards, 18 passing TDs, 790 rushing yards, 15 rushing TDs last season; committed to ULM)
  • DE Samuel Miller, Sr., 6-3, 220 (89 tackles, 26 TFLs, 4 sacks, 3 FFs last season; committed to UNT)
  • LB Brazos Hesskew, Jr. (150 tackles last season)
  • WR Garrett Denbow, Sr., 6-2, 195 (608 yards, 8 TDs)
  • OG Kennan Ivory, Sr.

Tyler Grace
  • QB/ATH Chandler Nutt, Sr., 6-2, 195
  • WR/S Jonny Spitzer, Sr., 5-11, 165
  • WR//DT Call Florence, Sr., 6-0, 200
  • RB/WR Zach Tatman, Sr.
Just the facts
  • Both Canton and Tyler Grace reached the playoffs in their respective classifications last season, and both teams have at least 12 returning staters.
  • Casual fans will enjoy seeing the college football potential in this game. Canton quarterback Chandler Eiland is committed to ULM, teammate Samuel Miller is a North Texas defensive end commitment while Tyler Grace's Chandler Nutt and Jonny Spitzer will be playing to turn heads.
  • Every non-district game is huge for Canton. The Eagles are hoping to contest District 5-4A Division II against an East Texas state favorite in Gilmer. Canton and Gilmer meet Oct. 17 at Buckeye Stadium.
  • This should be the toughest non-district game for Tyler Grace. It will play New Diana and Harleton the following two weeks. The two future opponents are solid, but don't have as much top-end talent.
  • Canton's Eiland and Tyler Grace's Nutt met at the 2014 ETSN.fm Football Recruiting Combine in June. Nutt finished second among a field of 11 East Texas quarterbacks in physical test scoring.

 

Chandler Nutt enters his senior season with experience at quarterback. It's his offensive show to run in 2014. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Quarterback duel. Chandler Eiland and Chandler Nutt are two of East Texas' top senior quarterbacks. Both have experience and both have a strong supporting casts around them. The two players also have a maturity factor, so don't expect them to drop out of the game if things go awry at Mewbourne Field.

Canton's Garrett Denbow is a good high school target at 6-2, 195 and some acceleration speed after the catch. Samuel Miller also might play a role as a tight end.

Canton's Garrett Denbow snags a six-yard touchdown pass during the Eagles' 35-25 win at Brownsboro last season. (Alison Owen, ETSN.fm)

Nutt has Jonny Spitzer, a TAPPS Division II Second-Team All-State selection as the headliner. The 5-11, 165-pound receiver is very good at finding a running lane after the catch and could be the X-factor on a screen play at some point in Thursday's game.

Spitzer also will go head-to-head with Canton's offense as a defensive back. He is part of a defensive unit returning five starters.

Canton's defense is anchored by Miller as a defensive end and linebacker Brazos Hesskew. Miller is a natural fit in his defensive position, it's what colleges want him to play on the next level. Hesskew recorded a team-high 150 tackles last season as a sophomore. The Eagles' overall defense should be ready to go with eight returning starters.

Don't be surprised if: The private school goes for a statement against Canton and its top-end talent. Tyler Grace has to battle the state's perception that public school football is better than private school ball, but we're not talking about the Cougars running up against Class 6A power Allen. Canton and Tyler Grace have similar roster sizes, both teams have embraced the spread offense and the sides run them effectively. The two teams signed up to play against each other for a reason.

This game is certainly the most evenly matched Thursday game in the region.

Tyler Grace's Jonny Spitzer is expected to be a big factor on Tyler Grace's offense and defense. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)