District 9-2A Division I

White Oak Roughnecks (5-0)

vs.

No. 5 Tatum Eagles (5-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Eagle Stadium, Tatum

 

Coaches
  • White Oak: Gerry Stanford
  • Tatum: Andy Evans

 

Last week
  • White Oak: idle
  • Tatum: won 48-0 vs. Diboll

 

Next week
  • White Oak: at Harmony
  • Tatum: at Troup

 

Playmakers

White Oak

  • QB Dylan Gale, Sr., 5-8, 165 (63 of 96, 1,074 yards, 11 TDs, 0 INTs)
  • RB/LB Riley Lakin, Sr. (69 carries, 587 yards, 8 TDs; 4 catches, 45 yards, 1 TD)
  • WR Jansen McCurdy, Sr., 6-0, 165 (20 catches, 507 yards, 7 TDs)
  • S Jake Pullen, Jr. (63 tackles)
  • WR/DE Hayden Nichols, Sr., 6-3, 215 (10 catches, 221 yards, 3 TDs)
  • WR Cass Carr, Sr. (14 catches, 147 yards, 1 TD)
  • WR Gabe Michael, Sr., 6-1, 175 (11 catches, 143 yards)
  • OL/DL Jason Heim, Sr., 6-1, 260
  • DT Dee Sutton, Sr., 5-11, 260
  • OL Mickey McFall, Sr.

 

Tatum

  • S Klifton Willis, Sr., 5-11, 180 (19 tackles, 10 INTs, 2 def. TDs)
  • LB Kyshuan Smith, Jr., 6-1, 175 (64 tackles, 7 for loss, 1 INT, 1 def. TD)
  • RB/LB Demetrius Hill, Sr., 5-11, 190 (27 carries, 143 yards, 5 TDs; 54 tackles, 10 for loss, 1 def. TD)
  • RB/DB Jaylen Shans, Sr., 5-10, 170 (40 carries, 293 yards, 2 TDs; 6 catches, 59 yards, 1 TD; 13 tackles, 1 INT)
  • DB Jordan Nelson, Jr. (60 tackles, 5 for loss)
  • LB Devon Boyd, Jr., 5-10, 170 (28 tackles, 9 for loss, 2 sacks)
  • QB J.D. Taylor, Soph., 6-1, 175 (39 of 63, 530 yards, 6 TDs, 0 INTs; 36 carries, 196 yards, 2 TDs)
  • WR Deyanta Roberson, Jr., 6-1, 175 (12 catches, 240 yards, 2 TDs)
  • DT Keaton Blanton, Sr., 6-3, 305 (22 tackles, 2 for loss, 1 forced fumble)
  • DL Collin Gage, Sr., 5-11, 200 (26 tackles, 6 for loss, 1 sack)

 

Just the facts
  • Tatum is 17-5 vs. White Oak since 1968.
  • Tatum has beaten White Oak 16 times in the last 17 meetings.
  • Tatum won last year's matchup 28-21 at Roughneck Stadium.
  • The last two meetings were decided by a total of nine points (28-21 Tatum in 2012, 44-42 Tatum in 2011).
  • White Oak outscored five non-district opponents 197-27.
  • Tatum outscored five non-district opponents 180-13.
  • White Oak has held four foes to seven or fewer points, including one shutout.
  • Tatum has held all five of its opponents to seven or fewer points, including three shutouts.
  • Tatum's 2.6 points allowed per game and White Oak's 5.4 give these teams the two top scoring defenses in East Texas.
  • White Oak averages 39.4 points per game, while Tatum averages 36.0.
  • White Oak averages 378.4 total yards per game: 235.8 passing, 142.6 rushing.
  • Tatum averages 316.6 total yards per game: 116.4 passing, 200.2 rushing.
  • White Oak senior Jansen McCurdy has 69 catches for 1,773 yards and 25 touchdowns since the start of the 2012 season (17 games).
  • In that span, McCurdy has averaged 25.7 yards per catch.
  • Tatum senior safety Klifton Willis' 10 interceptions are a single-season school record.

 

Tatum S Klifton Willis. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: White Oak's passing attack vs. Tatum's back seven. Both teams possess superior defenses, as evidenced by the combined 8.0 points per game they allow. While containing Tatum's rushing attack is a top priority for White Oak, the Roughnecks must succeed throwing the ball when they have it if they want to open District 9-2A Division I play with a statement road win.

White Oak faces a Tatum secondary that has picked off 14 passes thanks in large part to senior safety Klifton Willis, whose 10 interceptions are more than twice as many as anyone else in East Texas. Willis has turned two of those directly into touchdowns, giving the Eagle defensive backs an added dimension of danger to consider when you're trying to throw the ball against them.

White Oak WR Jansen McCurdy. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Fortunately for White Oak, head coach Gerry Stanford has senior Dylan Gale playing quarterback. Gale has yet to throw an interception this season and threw only eight as a junior, when he had a 3-to-1 touchdowns-to-interceptions ratio. Since the start of 2012, Gale has thrown only eight picks in 340 attempts -- an average of 42.5 passes between interceptions. Gale is smart with the ball and has a bevy of receivers from which to choose. Classmate Jansen McCurdy, White Oak's top pass-catcher and biggest home-run threat, is chief among those.

McCurdy, Gabe Michael, and Hayden Nichols give White Oak excellent size in its receiving corps. Watching those guys match up with the always athletic Tatum linebackers and defensive backs will be a treat for fans of both teams.

Tatum RB/LB Demetrius Hill. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Don't be surprised if: Friday night's game is a close one, exactly like the last two meetings.

All of the evidence suggests that the ETSN.fm/Dairy Queen Game of the Week will live up to expectations. Both teams average almost 40 points per game. Both teams surrender less than a touchdown per game. Both teams won nine games a year ago and were 2 of 3 teams that finished 4-1 atop 9-2A D-I.

Does home-field advantage mean enough to push Tatum over the top come Friday evening? Does White Oak's on-paper offensive edge give the Roughnecks enough of a head up to overcome going on the road?

These questions will be answered in what promises to be a district opener that lives up to everything fans and media thought it would be before the season started.

White Oak quarterback Dylan Gale fires a pass during an Aug. 6 two-a-day practice at White Oak High School. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)