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Elysian Fields Continues Underdog Role in State Semifinal Matchup Against Unbeaten East Bernard

Elysian Fields’ Nathan Hall responds to the crowd after his 49-yard go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter that lifted the Yellow Jackets to a 21-14 fourth-round win vs. Hughes Springs on Saturday in Longview. (Jeff Stapleton, ETSN.fm)

Class 2A Division II
State Semifinal

Elysian Fields Yellow Jackets (11-3)
vs.
East Bernard Brahmas (13-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday
Floyd Casey Stadium, Waco

Coaches
EF: Eric King
East Bernard: Jerry Long

Road To The Final Four

Elysian Fields

  • Bi-district: def. Winona, 67-54
  • Area: def. Deweyville, 24-22
  • Regional semifinal: def. Arp, 30-20
  • Region III final: def. Hughes Springs, 21-14

 

East Bernard

  • Bi-district: bye
  • Area: def. Banquete, 47-0
  • Regional semifinal: def. Blanco, 16-0
  • Region IV final: def. Refugio, 54-23

 

Next week: Winner plays Sonora (11-3) or Corsicana Mildred (12-1) in the 2A Division II state championship, 8 p.m. Thursday (Dec. 20), Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

 

Playmakers

Elysian Fields

  • QB/S Trevor Spear, Sr., 5-11, 185 (106 of 172, 2,127 yards, 26 TDs, 8 INTs; 153 carries, 1,163 yards, 20 TDs; 19 tackles, 1 INT, 2 forced fumbles, 2 recoveries)
  • LB Tanner Norman, Jr., 6-0, 190 (216 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovery)
  • LB Bruce Woods, Sr., 5-11, 180 (160 tackles, 9 sacks, 1 INT, 1 forced fumble, 2 recoveries)
  • WR/CB Nathan Hall, Sr., 5-10, 175 (29 catches, 736 yards, 11 TDs; 1 rush TD; 1 INT)
  • WR/FS Christian Smith, Sr., 6-2, 185 (21 catches, 527 yards, 6 TDs; 12 carries, 157 yards, 2 TDs; 145 tackles, 1 INT, 2 forced fumbles, 1 recovery)
  • OL/DE Clay Vance, Sr., 6-1, 215 (123 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 4 recoveries)
  • WR/DB Zane Barge, Sr., 5-10, 175 (12 catches, 300 yards, 2 TDs; 28 tackles, 9 INTs)
  • ATH Lonzo Macon, Sr., 6-0, 180 (22 catches, 231 yards, 1 TD; 41 carries, 163 yards, 3 TDs; 98 tackles, 4 sacks, 1 INT, 1 fumble recovery)
  • WR/S T.J. Clark, Jr., 6-1, 190 (12 carries, 182 yards, 2 TDs; 7 catches, 125 yards, 1 TD; 77 tackles, 1 sack, 2 INTs, 2 fumble recoveries)
  • RB Tanner Davis, Jr., 5-11, 185 (158 carries, 1,018 yards, 6 TDs; 1 TD catch)
  • RB/LB Colby Simmons, Jr., 5-11, 210 (49 carries, 319 yards, 4 TDs; 61 tackles)
  • OL/DL Randall Wall, Jr., 6-0, 285 (115 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 3 recoveries)
  • DT Braden Jett, Jr., 5-11, 210 (73 tackles, 3 forced fumbles, 3 recoveries)
  • TE/DL Don Deramus, Sr., 6-1, 250 (1 TD catch; 47 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovery)
  • OL/DL Kevin Jones, Sr., 5-10, 200 (30 tackles, 1 forced fumble)

 

 

East Bernard

  • ATH Ty Slanina, Sr., 6-0, 182 (18 of 40, 444 yards, 7 TDs, 2 INTs; 66 carries, 1,033 yards, 19 TDs; 13 catches, 288 yards, 5 TDs; 3 INTs; committed to TCU)
  • QB/DB Grant Ashenbeck, Jr. (35 of 58, 710 yards, 9 TDs, 2 INTs; 1 rush TD: 5 INTs)
  • RB Cedric Perkins, Jr. (65 carries, 847 yards, 9 TDs)
  • RB Joc Richardson, Jr. (81 carries, 521 yards, 10 TDs)
  • ATH Trevor Long, Jr. (15 catches, 347 yards, 5 TDs; 2 INTs)
  • ATH Garrett Polak, Sr. (52 carries, 316 yards, 3 TDs; 1 INT)
  • RB/DB Victor Pettit, Sr. (31 carries, 231 yards, 4 TDs; 3 INTs)
  • RB Justin McGuire, Jr. (29 carries, 220 yards, 3 TDs; 1 TD catch)

 

Just the facts

  • Elysian Fields averages 34.2 points per game and allows 24.6.
  • East Bernard averages 45.4 points per game and allows 6.8.
  • Elysian Fields has won six consecutive games and 10 of its last 11.
  • During their six-game winning streak, the Yellow Jackets have an average victory margin of 11.8 points.
  • East Bernard has outscored three playoff opponents 117-23.
  • Elysian Fields has won its four playoff games by an average of 8.0 points.
  • East Bernard has won its three playoff games by an average of 31.3 points.
  • Elysian Fields has won its last three games by a combined 19 points.
  • Elysian Fields is in the state semifinals for the fourth time since 1998.
  • The Jackets have gone 3-0 in the three previous semifinal trips in the last 14 years, but have lost the state championship each time (Celina in 1998-99, Canadian in 2007).

 

 

Elysian Fields QB Trevor Spear. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Elysian Fields running game vs. East Bernard’s defensive front. It’s obvious from East Bernard’s impressive points allowed number (6.8 per game) that the Brahmas know a thing or two about defense. Elysian Fields has its hands full against East Bernard’s defensive front, which helped the Brahmas hold Refugio to 23 points, the Bobcats’ lowest total of the season. Refugio, the defending Class 2A Division II state champion, entered the Region IV final against East Bernard averaging 63.8 points per game, an average bolstered by seven 70-plus outputs, including game sof 80 and 84 points. That ended with East Bernard. Elysian Fields didn’t run consistently against Hughes Springs, but got a couple of big plays in the passing game and a great defensive performance to avenge the 55-14 Oct. 26 loss to the previously unbeaten Mustangs. Elysian Fields must find some offensive balance this week to keep its seemingly improbable playoff run alive.

 

Chalk talk

  • Elysian Fields coach Eric King on the key matchup in Friday’s game: “The first thing is our running game against their defensive line. I think if they can put five or six in pass coverage, we’re in trouble.”
  • King on defending East Bernard: “We have to control their passing game as well as the running game, which is very hard to do. We’ve got to get off the field on third down. If we can do that, I think we’ll be OK.”
  • King on East Bernard’s similarities to other teams EF has faced: “They’re a lot like Hughes Springs with their physicality. But the thing they do so well that makes them good is they can throw the ball. They line up in the Slot-T, which pounds, pounds, and pounds at you on the ground. Usually you can load up in the box, but East Bernard can throw it. They have a 6-4 receiver and another receiver who’s 6-2 and another one (Ty Slanina) going to TCU on a scholarship. It’d be one thing if they couldn’t pass, but you’ve got to honor their passing game.”

 

Elysian Fields WR/FS Christian Smith. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Don’t be surprised if: Turnovers have a huge impact on the outcome of the game. Yes, you can say that about just about any football game, but in matchups like this one — an undefeated favorite (East Bernard) vs. a hotter-than-ever underdog (Elysian Fields) — that is especially true. Elysian Fields’ defensive improvement during the course of the playoffs is staggering. The Jackets yielded 54 points to Winona in a first-round victory, then held Arp and Hughes Springs — teams that beat EF by a combined 71 points in the regular season — to 34 points in a two-week span to avenge those losses and get back to the state semifinals for the first time since a 2A D-II runner-up finish in 2007. The statewide media doesn’t give Elysian Fields much of a shot, but the regional media admittedly didn’t even give the Jackets much of a chance against Arp or Hughes Springs. To say that EF is playing with a chip on its shoulder is an understatement, even if the Jackets may not admit it publicly. Coach Eric King has obviously done a great job taking what his team did wrong during the regular season and correcting it come playoff time, and because of that, the Jackets are a win away from playing in the state championship for a fourth time.

 

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