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Daingerfield Aims for Ninth State Championship Appearance in State Semifinal Bout vs. Wall

Daingerfield’s Calvin Bryant (15) and Ruben Mims (24) pursue New Boston’s Damien Haskins (23) during the Tigers’ 35-28 fourth-round victory Saturday in Mount Pleasant. (Richard Shoemaker, ETSN.fm)

Class 2A Division I
State Semifinal

Daingerfield Tigers (11-3)
vs.
Wall Hawks (12-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday
Waco ISD Stadium

Coaches
Daingerfield: Aric Sardinea
Wall: Houston Guy

Road To The Final Four

Daingerfield

  • Bi-district: def. Eustace, 58-0
  • Area: def. Callisburg, 32-21
  • Regional semifinal: def. Winnsboro, 47-14
  • Region II final: def. New Boston, 35-28

 

Wall

  • Bi-district: bye
  • Area: def. Bushland, 52-14
  • Regional semifinal: Merkel, 42-14
  • Region I final: def. Eastland, 48-24

 

Next week: Winner plays Newton (13-0) or Cameron Yoe (13-0) in the 2A Division I state championship, noon Friday (Dec. 21), Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

 

Playmakers

Daingerfield

  • QB Keris Alexander, Jr. (136 of 235, 2,043 yards, 18 TDs, 9 INTs; 2 rush TDs)
  • ATH Edwin Mims, Sr. (118 carries, 779 yards, 16 TDs; 53 catches, 856 yards, 8 TDs; game-winning 70-yard punt return TD last week vs. New Boston)
  • OL/DL Jacolby Simpson, Sr.
  • LB Calvin Bryant, Sr.
  • WR/DB Shawn Hooks, Sr. (53 catches, 847 yards, 8 TDs; 23 carries, 211 yards, 4 TDs)
  • RB Cordarius Anderson (123 carries, 954 yards, 14 TDs)
  • DB Ruben Mims, Sr.
  • RB/LB Ramius Wallace, Jr. (88 carries, 556 yards, 4 TDs; 1 TD catch)
  • WR/DB Jonathan Barber, Sr.
  • LB Kelshin Neal
  • DB Cory Smith
  • DB Tyrodrick Mims
  • DB Troy Stuard
  • OL/DL Dylan Williams
  • DL/LB Traye Taylor

 

Wall

  • RB Grant Eubank (10 carries, 185 yards, 3 TDs last week vs. Eastland; Season: 2,341 rushing yards)
  • QB Luke Dacy (1-for-2, 36 yards, 1 INT, 15 carries, 175 yards, 2 rush TDs last week vs. Eastland)
  • FB Clint Masters (16 carries, 135 yards, 1 TD last week vs. Eastland)
  • DB Brent Matschek (1 INT last week vs. Eastland)
  • WR Tre Chitsey (36-yard reception last week vs. Eastland)

 

Just the facts

  • Daingerfield averages 35.6 points per game and allows 18.9.
  • Wall averages 52.4 points per game and allows 13.7.
  • Daingerfield has won eight consecutive games and nine of its last 10.
  • The only game Daingerfield lost in its last 10 contests was a 38-37 decision at New Boston on Oct. 5, a loss the Tigers avenged with last week’s 35-28 regional final victory.
  • Wall has won 11 consecutive games.
  • Wall’s only loss was a 40-29 defeat at Merkel on Sept. 7, a game the Hawks avenged in with a 42-14 third-round playoff win.
  • Wall threw two passes in last week’s 48-24 win against Eastland, but ran the ball 45 times for 511 yards.
  • Wall went for a two-point conversion after five of its seven touchdowns last week against Eastland.
  • Wall picked off Eastland three times and turned three red-zone possessions away for no points.
  • Daingerfield has been to the state semifinals 10 times since 1966, going 8-2 in those matchups.
  • Daingerfield has reached the state championship round eight times, winning six crowns, the most of any school in East Texas.
  • Wall is in its second state semifinal in program history and first since 1977.
  • The Hawks have never played in a state championship game.

 

Key matchup: Daingerfield’s defensive front vs. Wall’s running game. This game is a true contrast in offensive styles with Wall’s almost run-exclusive attack facing the Tigers’ balanced spread. Wall must sustain and finish — emphasis on finish — drives to put Daingerfield behind the 8-ball because the Tigers’ offense allows them a better chance to come back if they fall behind, whereas the Hawks’ run-heavy, deliberate offense needs to build a lead and hold it to suffocate an opponent into submission. That means this contest could turn into a possession game. If Wall sustains and finishes drives, the Hawks have a good shot to win. But if they fail to do that, chances are Daingerfield will be able to move the ball, if Eastland’s more than 450 yards of offense last week against Wall are an indicator. Daingerfield QB Keris Alexander eclipsed the 2,000-yard passing mark last week, and the Tigers’ ground game is potent with three players rushing for at least 550 yards, two of which have more than 700 (Cordarius Anderson and Edwin Mims). Daingerfield can strike faster than Wall, so that gives the Tigers an advantage in that sense that they can fight back from an early deficit if they need to. Facing Slot-T teams like Wall can be difficult, especially in the early going, so having that quick-scoring, big-play ability should help Daingerfield in that aspect.

 

Chalk talk

  • Daingerfield coach Aric Sardinea on Wall’s Slot-T Offense: “They’re a very well-coached, hard-nosed football team. They’re big up front and have some really fast kids on the back end that they can pitch the ball to. The have a fullback that I’ve seen on film that reminds me of Mike Alstott. He’s big and can really run through the A gap. The thing that really stands out to me is that they’re similar to Winnsboro.”
  • Sardinea on defending Wall’s Slot-T: “We’re going to have get some penetration through the A gap. They have a quarterback that’s really good at reading the defense. When you play against a team with the offense they run, you have to take away something from them. You have to get other kids to rally to the ball. Up front, they’re a really big, physical team. We need to get good penetration on the other side of the ball.”

 

 

Daingerfield coach Aric Sardinea instructs players during two-a-days in early August. Daingerfield hosts unbeaten Mount Vernon on Friday. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Don’t be surprised if: The first quarter doesn’t tell the whole story. Yeah, that sounds obvious, right? Well, it’s true, especially in a game featuring two teams from completely different parts of the state running completely different offenses. There’s a good chance both teams will have to adjust to the other after what they see in the first couple of possessions. Daingerfield doesn’t see a ton of Slot-T teams, although coach Aric Sardinea drew the comparison of Wall and Winnsboro. That’d be a favorable comparison for Daingerfield, which drilled Winnsboro 47-14. Sardinea wasn’t necessarily speaking to the talent levels of the teams, but the similar run-heavy styles. One thing to consider in this matchup is experience and program expectation. Wall has been a very good Region I team lately, but Friday’s game is the first time the Hawks have played in the state semifinals since 1977. Daingerfield, on the other hand, has reached at least the fourth round of the playoffs five consecutive seasons, including three consecutive state championships from 2008-10. That means the Tigers expect to win, not just hope to win. Sardinea said the program’s tradition has fueled this playoff run, so don’t be surprised if the mystique continues to power the Tigers right into the 2A Division I championship game, where they could have a rematch against Cameron Yoe — the team Daingerfield beat 33-27 in the 2010 Class 2A D-I title — or Newton, which beat Daingerfield 21-0 in the 1998 Class 3A Division II championship.

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