Chapel Hill Faces Tall Task In Area Round Against No. 1 Navasota
CLASS 4A DIVISION I
Region III Area Playoff
Chapel Hill Bulldogs (6-5)
No. 1 Navasota Rattlers (11-0)
7 p.m. Friday
Buddy Moorhead Stadium, Conroe
- Chapel Hill: Thomas Sitton
- Navasota: Lee Fedora
- Chapel Hill: def. Huffman Hargrave, 57-43
- Navasota: def. Needville, 55-15
- Winner faces either Carthage or El Campo, 4A Division I Region III semifinal
- FB/LB Reggie King, Jr., 5-11, 205 (47 carries, 284 yards, 14 TDs; 21 catches, 247 yards, 2 TDs)
- WR/LB Deundre Phillips, Jr., 5-8, 180 (29 catches, 463 yards, 4 TDs; 27 carries, 43 yards, TD)
- OL/DL Jeremy West, Jr., 6-3, 280
- QB Konnor Hitchock, Jr., 5-8, 180 (113 of 188, 1,742 yards, 16 TDs, 7 INTs; 47 carries, 113 yards, TD)
- RB Michael Bledsoe, Sr., 5-7, 165 (112 carries, 875 yards, 5 TDs)
- RB/DB Ja"Braylon Franklin, Jr. (98 carries, 949 yards, 5 TDs; 8 catches, 146 yards, TD)
- WR Jeffery Minor, Sr., 6-0, 170 (23 catches, 384 yards, 5 TDs; 17 carries, 76 yards)
- OL/DL Rex Cicero, Sr., 6-2, 245
- WR Tren'davian Dickson, Jr., 6-1, 178 (52 catches, 1,374 yards, 28 TDs; 6 carries, 118 yards; committed to Baylor)
- QB Shelton Eppler, Jr., 6-1, 185 (182 of 262, 3,432 yards, 48 TDs, 8 INTs)
- RB Jarvis Norman, Jr. (59 carries, 561 yards, 6 TDs)
- WR Jerbrell Lipscomb, Sr., 5-9, 185 (34 catches, 513 yards, 4 TDs; 3 carries, 29 yards)
- LB Coy Imhoff, Sr. (106 tackles, 12 for loss, 2 sacks, forced fumble, recovery, 2 PBUs, blocked kick)
- DE Jabril Hunter, Soph. (53 tackles, 18 for loss, 7 sacks, forced fumble, 2 recoveries)
- DB Davon Jernigan, Sr., 6-0, 185 (32 tackles, 2 for loss, 4 INTs, 6 PBUs, fumble recovery)
- DL Johnathan Flores, Jr. (37 tackles, 9 for loss, 6 sacks, forced fumble)
Just the facts
- Chapel Hill and Navasota have met three times in the playoffs. Navasota took a 33-24 win in 1996, while Chapel Hill won 42-13 in 2010 and 56-46 in 2011.
- The Bulldogs are 13-2 in the playoffs under head coach Thomas Sitton, including 3-0 in second-round games.
- Chapel Hill is averaging 39.5 points and 442.1 yards per game -- 269.5 rushing and 172.6 passing.
- In its six wins, Chapel Hill has averaged 53.3 points per game. In their five losses, the Bulldogs are averaging 22.8.
- The cumulative record of Chapel HIll's opponents is 58-59.
- Navasota is averaging 63 points and 579.7 yards per game -- 258.5 rushing and 321.2 passing.
- Navasota's slimmest margin of victory this season was 21 points -- a 35-14 win over Coldspring-Oakhurst.
- The cumulative record of Navasota's opponents is 45-61.
Key matchup: Navasota passing attack vs. Chapel Hill secondary. When Chapel Hill advanced to the state championship game in 2010 and 2011, it had to go through Navasota along the way in the playoffs. In the most recent matchup, the Bulldogs had to line up against Rattlers all-state quarterback Kadarius Baker along with the fantastic receiving duo of Austin Collins and Solomon McGinty. Chapel Hill passed the test that night, but that Navasota team was able to win it all the following year. Fast forward a couple of seasons and Chapel Hill and Navasota meet once again in the playoffs, and just like in years passed, the Bulldogs will be confronted with a prolific passing attack from Navasota. It all starts with junior quarterback Shelton Eppler, who's thrown for more than 3,400 yards and 48 touchdowns in just 11 games. And the receiver that's been giving opposing defenses fits all season is fellow junior Tren'davian Dickson, a Baylor commit who's enjoying a monstrous 2014 season. Dickson is averaging more than 26 yards per reception, while coming down with an absurd 28 touchdown receptions. Jerbrell Lipscomb is having a solid season in his own right at receiver, but it's Dickson who will command most of the Chapel Hill defense's attention Friday night.
Chapel Hill's defense was put to the test a week ago by Huffman Hargrave's explosive passing attack. The Bulldogs did allow 43 points and 371 passing yards to the Falcons, but they did come up with three interceptions to thwart several potential scoring drives. Hargrave sophomore receiver Dylan Lorfing was the main target in the Falcons' arsenal, finishing with 14 catches for 227 yards. The Bulldogs' defense has not been a strength for most of the season as it allows an average of more than 35 points per game, but if their offense is clicking, a couple of turnovers here and there can often times be the difference in a Chapel Hill win or loss. That was the case last week, as Chapel Hill forced five turnovers which led to 35 Bulldogs points. So while Chapel Hill allowed more than 500 yards of offense, its defense made the plays in had to when it had to in order for the Bulldogs to survive and advance. Navasota's defense is much stingier than Hargrave's, so to expect Chapel Hill to ring up 57 points and more than 600 yards in back-to-back weeks may be out of the question. That would put pressure on Chapel Hill's defense to not only force several turnovers, but also prevent Navasota from moving the ball up and down the field.
Don't be surprised if: Navasota tries to take away the Chapel Hill running game, and forces the game into the hands of junior quarterback Konnor Hitchcock. Huffman Hargrave didn't take away the Chapel Hill rushing attack last week, but Hitchcock proved he is more than capable of taking over during stretches. The Bulldogs' signal-caller passed for a season-high 336 yards and four touchdowns in the first-round victory, a week after having to sit out Chapel Hill's regular-season finale against Carthage because of a concussion suffered the week before. Chapel Hill's offense is predicated on its ability to run the ball with junior Ja'Braylon Franklin and senior Michael Bledose, who have combined for 1,824 yards and 10 touchdowns on the year. Junior Reggie King and senior Delenis Garrett get most of the short-yardage carries as the duo has combined to run for 21 of the team's 36 rushing touchdowns. But as recent history suggests, when Chapel Hill struggles to run the ball, it has difficulty finding the win column. In the Bulldogs' six wins this season, they have averaged 336 rushing yards. However, in Chapel Hill's five losses, it only goes for 189.6 per game on the ground. If Navasota is successful in taking away the run, it will be up to an emerging Hitchcock and a talented corps of receivers to pick up the slack.