Chapel Hill Hopes To Put Slow Finish To Season Behind It Saturday In Playoff Opener
CLASS 4A DIVISION I
Region III Bi-District Playoff
Chapel Hill Bulldogs (5-5)
Huffman Hargrave Falcons (9-1)
7:30 p.m. Friday
Abe Martin Stadium, Lufkin
- Chapel Hill: Thomas Sitton
- Huffman Hargrave: Mike McEachern
- Chapel Hill: lost to Carthage, 28-21
- Huffman Hargrave: def. Little Cypress-Mauriceville, 9-3
- Winner faces Navasota-Needville winner, Class 4A Division I area playoff.
- FB/LB Reggie King, Jr., 5-11, 205 (43 carries, 278 yards, 14 TDs; 20 catches, 230 yards, 2 TDs)
- OL/DL Jeremy West, Jr., 6-3, 280
- WR/LB Deundre Phillips, Jr., 5-8, 180 (25 catches, 386 yards, 4 TDs; 27 carries, 43 yards, TD)
- RB Michael Bledsoe, Sr., 5-7, 165 (94 carries, 703 yards, 2 TDs)
- RB Ja'Braylon Franklin, Jr. (84 carries, 838 yards, 4 TDs; 5 catches, 51 yards)
- WR Jeffery Minor, Sr., 6-0, 170 (19 catches, 273 yards, 3 TDs; 16 carries, 81 yards)
- DL Rex Cicero, Sr., 6-2, 245
- QB Konnor Hitchcock, Jr., 5-8, 180 (98 of 167, 1,406 yards, 12 TDs, 7 INTs; 41 carries, 107 yards, TD)
- QB Cody Gaitan, Jr., 5-9, 170 (156 of 238, 2,767 yards, 30 TDs, 12 INTs)
- WR Chase Harrell, Sr., 6-5, 205 (61 catches, 1,178 yards, 13 TDs)
- WR Lane Shively, Jr., 6-3, 185 (38 catches, 708 yards, 8 TDs)
- WR Dylan Larfing, Soph., 6-3, 185 (39 catches, 595 yards, 6 TDs; 29 carries, 260 yards, 2 TDs)
- RB Caesar Marroquin, Jr., 5-7, 160 (81 carries, 548 yards, 7 TDs)
- DB Caden Cotter, Jr., 5-9, 140 (3 INTs)
- RB Collen Arnold, Sr., 5-9, 165 (34 carries, 287 yards, 2 TDs)
Just the facts
- Chapel Hill is 12-2 in the playoffs under head coach Thomas Sitton.
- The Bulldogs' only two postseason losses under Sitton came to Henderson in the 2010 3A Division I state final and Kilgore in last season's 3A D-I regional title game.
- Chapel Hill is averaging 37.7 points and 422.9 yards per game -- 266.6 rushing and 156.3 passing.
- The cumulative record of the five teams that have beaten Chapel Hill this season -- Lindale, Whitehouse, Port Neches-Groves, Henderson and Carthage -- is 28-22.
- Eight different Chapel Hill ball carriers have rushed for touchdowns this season.
- Huffman Hargrave is averaging 41.7 points and 437.9 yards per game -- 135.2 rushing and 302.7 passing.
- The Falcons were held to a season-low nine points and 230 yards in last week's win over Little Cypress-Mauriceville.
- The cumulative record of Huffman Hargrave's opponents is 43-57.
Key matchup: Huffman Hargrave passing game vs. Chapel Hill secondary. For the first time since early in the season, the Chapel Hill Bulldogs will be facing a predominantly pass-first team in the Falcons of Huffman Hargrave. And the game will almost undoubtedly be decided by how Chapel Hill's secondary fares in defending the Falcons' aerial assault. For the season, Hargrave averages more than 300 passing yards per game, led by quarterback Cody Gaitan, who threw for more than 2,700 yards and 30 touchdowns during the regular season. The junior signal-caller has an abundance of options when it comes to distributing the ball. The Falcons' top three pass catchers are all listed at 6-3 or above in height, which makes the receiving trio a difficult cover for Chapel Hill defensive backs that do not exceed 6-0. Hargrave's top receiver is Chase Harrell, a 6-5 specimen who's caught 13 touchdowns on the year and averages more than 117 receiving yards per game. Harrell's not alone; Junior Lane Shively and sophomore Dylan Larfing have combined to haul in 77 catches for 1,303 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Chapel Hill has not faced a passing offense like this since Week 2 of the season against Whitehouse. In that game, the Bulldogs allowed 246 yards through the air on 15 of 27 completions in a 52-42 defeat. Chapel Hill faced another strong passing team two weeks later against Port Neches-Groves in a neutral-site game played in Lufkin. The Bulldogs, however, were so poor against the run that PNG did not feel the need to take to the air as much as it normally had done. Chapel Hill surrendered more than 300 rushing yards that night, but also allowed PNG to complete 20 of 27 throws for 269 yards in what was perhaps Chapel Hill's worst defensive showing of the season -- a 53-20 loss. But that came all the way back in September, and since then, Chapel Hill has played much better on the defensive side of the ball. In last week's 28-21 loss to Carthage, the Bulldogs intercepted Carthage quarterback Jarod Blissett twice and allowed him to complete just 12 of 27 attempts. Hargrave comes in averaging a modest 135 rushing yards per game, so it would seem the Falcons will carry over their pass-first philosophy into the first round of the playoffs.
Don't be surprised if: Each offense moves the ball with ease. While Hargrave is averaging more than 40 points and well over 400 total yards of offense per game, the Chapel Hill offense is as explosive as it gets in East Texas. The Falcons, however, are coming off their worst offensive showing of the season in a 9-3 win over Little Cypress-Mauriceville. In the regular-season finale, Hargrave managed a season-low 230 total yards, which may bode well for Chapel Hill on Saturday. On the other hand, Chapel Hill's last two offensive performances have been down in production and riddled with costly mistakes that have killed potential scoring drives. Last week, Chapel Hill had two first-quarter possessions end inside the Carthage 30-yard line. The Bulldogs were also hit with a handful of holding penalties, one of which wiped out a touchdown run of more than 60 yards last week. Don't expect either offense to be as grounded Saturday afternoon just because each is coming off sub-par performances.