District 19-3A Championship Up For Grabs When Palestine Hosts Sixth-Ranked Fairfield
No. 6 Fairfield Eagles (9-0, 3-0)
Palestine Wildcats (7-2, 3-0)
7:30 p.m. Friday
Wildcat Stadium, Palestine
- Fairfield: John Bachtel
- Palestine: Lance Angel
- Fairfield: idle
- Palestine: won 32-13 at Mexia
- RB Larry Rose, Sr., 5-11, 168 (126 carries, 1,704 yards, 28 TDs)
- QB Jacob Gallegos, Sr., 6-0 170 (88 of 148, 1,300 yards, 13 TDs, 2 INTs; 40 carries, 265 yards, 7 TDs)
- RB Dominic Brackens, Soph. (65 carries, 505 yards, 6 TDs)
- WR Chris Lide, Sr., 6-1, 180 (27 catches, 454 yards, 6 TDs)
- LB Devin Eggins, Jr., 5-8, 160 (113 tackles, 9 for loss, 4 sacks, 7 QB pressures, 2 forced fumbles, 3 recoveries, 1 pass break-up)
- DE Dedrick Garner, Jr. (57 tackles, 16 for loss, 11 sacks, 12 QB pressures, 4 forced fumbles, 6 pass break-ups)
- DT Danny Cockrell, Sr., 6-1, 190 (58 tackles, 15 for loss, 6 sacks, 17 QB pressures, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 INT)
- WR/DB Alex Ward, Sr., 5-9, 170 (10 carries, 75 yards, 1 TD; 16 catches, 236 yards; 37 tackles, 6 for loss, 1 sack, 4 QB pressures, 6 INTs, 1 forced fumble, 4 recoveries)
- RB/OLB Jarrell Owens, Sr., 6-3, 245 (committed to TCU; 62 carries, 571 yards, 5 TDs; 11 catches, 168 yards, 1 TD; 2 of 2, 37 yards, 2 TDs)
- RB Ben Luckett, Sr., 6-0, 195 (132 carries, 1,064 yards, 12 TDs; 5 catches, 121 yards, 1 TD)
- QB Fabian “Gee” Clark, Jr., 6-0, 165 (83 of 145, 1,516 yards, 17 TDs, 5 INTs; 49 carries, 277 yards, 6 TDs)
- OL Brian Thlang, Sr., 6-2, 285 (committed to ULM)
- WR/CB Sheldon Watson, Sr., 6-2, 180 (25 catches, 574 yards, 11 TDs)
- RB Devonte Mims (32 carries, 210 yards, 1 TD)
- OL Eric Gonzales, Sr., 6-0, 295
- WR/DB Marquis Clark, Sr. (18 catches, 187 yards, 2 TDs)
Just the facts
- Fairfield is shooting for its fourth consecutive district title.
- The Eagles are 35-7 in the last four years, which is the best four-year stretch in school history.
- The cumulative record of Fairfield’s nine opponents is 31-51.
- Fairfield is averaging 58 points per game and has outscored its opponents by 48.4 points on average.
- The Eagles put up 501.7 yards per game — 350.8 rushing and 150.9 passing.
- Fairfield has run 481 plays from scrimmage, averaging 9.4 yards per snap.
- Palestine’s two losses have come to Chapel Hill (62-27) and Athens (35-28), who are a cumulative 15-4 on the season.
- The cumulative record of Palestine’s nine opponents is 39-45.
- Palestine is averaging 38.1 points per game, while allowing 23.7.
- The Wildcats are putting up 432.4 yards per game — 259.8 rushing and 172.6 passing.
- Palestine has run 451 plays from scrimmage, averaging 8.6 yards per snap.
Key matchup: Fairfield running game vs. Palestine defensive front. Fairfield senior running back Larry Rose is putting together a monster season, and he’s played his best in the biggest games. In Fairfield’s most impressive win of the year — a 44-24 defeat of defending 3A Division II champion Navasota — Rose carried the ball a season-high 30 times and finished with 231 yards and two touchdowns. It was the second in a string of five consecutive games that Rose rushed for more than 200 yards. While Rose is responsible for most of Fairfield’s rushing production, he’s only accounted for 38 percent of the carries. Some of that can be attributed to the amount of blowouts wins Fairfield has accumulated on the year, but Fairfield is not short on options when it comes to carrying the ball. The Eagles have three others players with at least 255 yards on the season.
In Palestine’s two losses, the Wildcats were matched up against outstanding rushing attacks. Chapel Hill burned Palestine for 531 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on the ground, while Athens pounded the Wildcats for 379 in the Hornets’ narrow win. Palestine has had several key injuries on the defensive side of the ball throughout the season, which can explain some of those numbers, but Fairfield’s rushing attack is on par if not better than anything Palestine’s faced this season. Fairfield has been productive in the passing game as well, but elects to put in the air about 30 percent of the time. Fairfield’s strength on offense is its running game, and Palestine must do everything it can to contain it if the Wildcats are to entertain ideas of wrestling the district title away from Fairfield.
Don’t be surprised if: Palestine pulls out all the stops Friday night. On paper, Fairfield appears to be the clear favorite. However, last season’s game was as close they come — a 60-59 overtime victory for Fairfield. Palestine has the game at home this year, and would love to carry some positive momentum into the postseason with a big win over a state-ranked program. Despite the loss to Fairfield a year ago, Palestine was able to hang with and almost knock off heavily-favored Carthage in the first round of the playoffs. A win Friday night could be enough to eventually launch Palestine past the first round for the first time since 2006. Whether it’s surprise onside kicks, fourth-down gambles or new wrinkles put in this week, expect it all from Palestine as it tries to hand Fairfield its first loss of the season.