DISTRICT 16-5A

Hallsville Bobcats (2-7, 2-3)

vs.

Sulphur Springs Wildcats (3-6, 2-3)

7:30 p.m. Friday
Gerald Prim Stadium, Sulphur Springs

Coaches

  • Hallsville: David Plunk
  • Sulphur Springs: Greg Owens
Last week

Next week
  • Winner plays Mesquite Poteet in Class 5A Division II bi-district round, Nov. 11 at Lindale's Eagle Stadium.
Playmakers

Hallsville

  • OL Slade Brown, Sr., 6-4, 280
  • LB Blair Fernandez, Sr., 5-9, 190
  • DL Drew Johnson, Sr., 6-3, 225
  • WR Chris Kuler, Sr., 6-3, 180
  • WR/DB Ty Meissner, Sr.
  • LB James Nelson, Sr., 5-11, 200 (Doubtful due to injury)
  • OL Cody Rogers, Sr., 6-5, 240
  • RB Josh Taylor, Jr., 5-11, 180

Sulphur Springs

  • OL Gideon Gregory, Sr., 6-3, 290
  • QB Ryan Humphries, Jr., 5-9, 170
  • RB Lawrence Worth, Jr., 5-10, 180
  • WR Simeon Taylor, Jr., 6-2, 165
  • WR Tyrese Peters, Sr., 5-7, 165
  • RB Jaylon Hawkins, Sr., 5-8, 185
  • DB Terrell Turman, Jr., 6-0, 160
  • DL Cameron Cooks, Sr., 6-2, 220
Just the facts
  • Before breaking down the complexities of District 16-5A's four-team race for the last two playoffs spots, it is important to know that the winner of Friday's Hallsville-Sulphur Springs game will make the Class 5A Division II playoffs and the loser's season will end.
  • The winner of the game will advance to play Mesquite Poteet in the first round of the playoffs. The game will be played Nov. 11 and Lindale's Eagle Stadium.
  • Texas High has clinched the district championship and Marshall has secured second place.
  • Mount Pleasant will make the playoffs if it defeats Greenville, which has not won a district game this season.
  • If Greenville pulls an upset against Mount Pleasant, Pine Tree could make the playoffs along with the winner of the Hallsville-Sulphur Springs game if and only if it beats undefeated Texas High. But a Mount Pleasant win will eliminate Pine Tree regardless of if Pine Tree beats Texas High.
  • If Mount Pleasant, Pine Tree and Sulphur Springs all lose Friday, Mount Pleasant will make the playoffs because of its 2-0 record against the group.
  • If Mount Pleasant, Pine Tree and Hallsville all lose Friday, Mount Pleasant will make the playoffs because of its plus-8 point differential against the group. All three teams went 1-1 against each other.
  • Sulphur Springs owns a 2-1 record against Hallsville the past three years, which coincides with both teams' senior classes being parts of the programs, but the Bobcats won last year's meeting by a score of 49-3.
  • Hallsville has a 1-3 record on the road.
  • Sulphur Springs has a 1-3 record at home.
  • Hallsville will travel 86 miles to Gerald Prim Stadium.
Sulphur Springs' Simeon Taylor (10) hauls in a reception against Whitehouse on Sept. 16. (Jim Jackson, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Sulphur Springs' offense versus Hallsville's defense.

The Wildcats have the district's third-best scoring offense, 23.2 points per game, and the Bobcats own the district's fourth-best defense in terms of points allowed at 26.8 points.

Sulphur Springs leans a bit to the run with 392 attempts this season to 221 pass attempts, but its two facets are within 13 yards of each other through its nine-game season thus far.

There's a lot the Hallsville defense will have to deal with. Wildcats quarterback Ryan Humphries is East Texas' 17th-best passer, receiver Simeon Taylor is in the upper echelon with 723 yards and four rotational running backs have gone for at least 200 yards.

The simplest thing Hallsville can try to do is shut down Taylor. His 49 catches this season have accounted for 21 percent of Sulphur Springs' total offense and nearly 44 percent of the Wildcats' entire passing game.

Of course, ratting Humphries in the pocket would eat into a passing game responsible for 49.8 percent of the team's total offensive output.

Linebacker Blair Fernandez and defensive end Drew Johnson will be the Bobcats’ players to watch. They're the headliners of the defensive front, which will be tasked with providing a good pass rush and slowing down a running game responsible for 50.2 percent of Sulphur Springs' total offense.

Don't be surprised if: Special teams play a major role in the outcome of the game.

The average point differential between Sulphur Springs' offense and Hallsville's defense against common district opponents is 3.6 points. A successful or missed field goal would have a massive impact on the line. Even kicks after touchdowns dramatically close or widen that small opening gap.

More importantly, however, is how special teams could impact the number of possessions the two teams get as well as field position within the game. Onside kicks and fake punts to create or extend potential scoring drives could be the difference against a margin of 3.6 points.

Both teams need the win to save their seasons. Don't be surprised to see some bold decisions from coaches David Plunk and Greg Owens, especially when they feel like their team is on the brink of losing the game.

Hallsville linebacker Blair Fernandez. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)