Friday’s Battle Between Arp + No. 9 Waskom Could Go Long Way In Determining 8-3A D-II Title
DISTRICT 8-3A DIVISION II
Arp Tigers (4-0, 2-0)
No. 9 Waskom Wildcats (4-1, 2-0)
7:30 p.m. Friday
Wildcat Stadium, Waskom
- Arp: Dale Irwin
- Waskom: Whitney Keeling
- Arp: def. Winona, 63-6
- Waskom: def. Frankston, 63-35
- Arp: vs. Troup, Oct. 17
- Waskom: at Winona, Oct. 17
- RB Marcalas Johnson, Sr., 5-10, 190
- OL/DL Tyrone Hunt, Sr.
- LB Kalik Hines, Sr., 5-11, 200
- QB Kayce Medlock, Soph.
- WR/DB Thomas Reese, Jr.
- RB/LB Isaiah Baker, Jr., 5-5, 155
- DL Mac Stroupe, Soph., 6-2, 250
- DB Terry Nance, Soph.
- RB Kevin Johnson, Sr., 5-10, 160
- RB June Bug Johnson, Sr., 5-7, 135
- QB Trace Carter, Sr., 6-3, 175
- FB Dillon Benton, Sr., 5-10, 170
- RB/LB Chan Amie, Jr., 5-11, 60
- DB Eric Stephens III, Jr., 5-6, 140
- LB Mike Reason, Jr., 5-9, 170
- OL Kyle Adams, Sr., 6-4, 285
Just the facts
- Arp is 92-46 under head coach Dale Irwin.
- Waskom is 33-17 under head coach Whitney Keeling in games on the field. Waskom forfeited seven wins in 2012.
- Arp is averaging 40.8 points per game, while allowing 15.5.
- The combined record of Arp's four previous opponents is 3-17.
- Arp has won two games by two points each, while its other two wins have come by an average of 48.5 points.
- Waskom is averaging 48.8 points per game, while allowing 26.
- The combined record of Waskom's five previous opponents is 10-14.
- The combined record of Waskom's final four opponents is 3-16.
Key matchup: Waskom rushing attack vs. Arp defensive front. There's no secret what the Waskom Wildcats' objective is when they have the football. For the better part of three years, Waskom has had one of East Texas' most productive and explosive running games. Last season, four different Wildcats' rushers finished the season with more than 1,000 yards in leading Waskom to the Class 2A Division II state semifinals. Those four backs -- tailbacks Kevin Johnson and June Bug Johnson, quarterback Trace Carter and fullback Dillon Benton -- have all returned for their senior season. And this year, a new player has emerged from Waskom's backfield in the person of junior Chan Amie, who up until this year was a playmaking force on defense at linebacker. If Waskom goes as far or further than it did last year in the postseason, there is a possibility that the Wildcats could have as many as five 1,000-yard rushers. While Carter is above average throwing the ball from his quarterback spot, Waskom's offense will be as good as its running backs. It's up to Arp's defense to contain the Wildcats' ground game enough to force Waskom into the air.
Arp's defense has been stingy all season long, allowing opponents an average of just 15.5 points per game. The Tigers have been especially effective in curtailing opposing ground games. Arp's defensive line is led by senior Tyrone Hunt, an FBS target who holds an offer from UTSA, and sophomore Mac Stroupe. So far this season, Arp's D-line has been able to power past their O-line counterparts with their superior size and strength. The Tigers' linebacking corps is just as stout with senior Kalik Hines leading the way. Hines is one of the biggest linebackers at the 3A level in East Texas, and his speed allows him to be a disruptive force against opposing ball carriers. In order for Arp to challenge Waskom on Friday night, the Tigers will need to contain a rushing attack that's averaging well over 400 yards per game on the season. It's unrealistic to expect Arp to completely hold down Waskom's seemingly never-ending supply of explosive running backs, but by tightening up one first and second down, the Tigers could put Waskom's offense in uncomfortable situations by forcing the Wildcats into several third-and-longs.
Don't be surprised if: Friday's game is decided deep into the second half. Aside from Waskom's season-opening loss to Center, Arp presents the Wildcats with their biggest challenge of the year up to this point. It's unlikely Waskom will face an opponent of Arp's caliber until the playoffs, so it will be interesting to see how the playoff-tested Wildcats perform this week. Since this might be the last chance for a while Waskom has to measure up against quality competition, a strong performance Friday night could leave Wildcats coach Whitney Keeling with a good feeling about his team midway through the regular season. Meanwhile for Arp, the Tigers have the chance to prove what type of team they are capable of becoming this season with a good showing against a state-ranked opponent like Waskom. The early-season returns have been positive for Arp, but a win on the road Friday night could help the Tigers gain tons of confidence as the regular season hits the back stretch.