CLASS 4A DIVISION II QUARTERFINAL

Atlanta Rabbits (9-4)

vs.

Gilmer Buckeyes (13-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Pirate Stadium, Longview

Coaches
  • Atlanta: Matt McClure
  • Gilmer: Matt Turner

 

Last week

 

Next week
  • Winner faces winner between Krum and Celina, state semifinals

 

Playmakers

Atlanta

  • QB/ATH Jeremy Smith, Sr., 6-0, 165 (39 of 70, 628 yards, 5 TDs, 4 INTs; 106 carries, 1,087 yards, 17 TDs; 5 catches, 130 yards, 1 TD)
  • RB Tyrell Phillips, Sr., 5-9, 170 (272 carries, 2,075 yards, 27 TDs; 10 catches, 150 yards, 2 TDs)
  • WR Cobi Hamilton, Sr., 5-11, 160 (18 catches, 326 yards, 5 TDs)
  • ATH Layton Henson, Jr., 6-2, 180 (45 of 102, 683 yards, 8 TDs, 5 INTs; 56 carries, 342 yards, 3 TDs)
  • WR Carson Lambert, Sr. (18 catches, 211 yards, 2 TDs)
  • DL Keyuntea Kinney, Sr., 6-0, 230
  • DL/LB Tristan Allen, Jr., 6-3, 210
  • ATH Cade Coulter, Jr., 5-11, 180 (8 catches, 125 yards, 1 TD)

 

Gilmer

  • RB/LB Demarco Boyd, Sr., 6-0, 225 (78 carries, 508 yards, 14 TDs; 30 catches, 367 yards. 4 TDs; 65 tackles, 3 sacks, 19 QB pressures, 1 INT, 2 PBUs, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovery; committed to Texas)
  • WR/S Kollin Hurt, Jr., 6-3, 175 (16 catches, 221 yards, 3 TDs; 101 tackles, 10 INTs, 7 PBUs)
  • QB Zac Spears, Sr., 5-9, 170 (174 of 309, 2,434 yards, 28 TDs, 7 INTs; 32 carries, 132 yards, 1 TD)
  • RB Kelton Collier, Jr., 6-0, 200 (114 carries, 757 yards, 12 TDs; 20 catches, 287 yards, 4 TDs)
  • WR Lamarcus Morton, Jr., 6-2, 175 (28 catches, 509 yards, 6 TDs)
  • DL/LB Tristain Olivares, Sr., 5-7, 185 (89 tackles, 9 sacks, 15 QB pressures, 1 forced fumble)
  • RB/LB Cambron Granville, Sr., 5-7, 160 (65 carries, 394 yards, 5 TDs; 75 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 PBUs, 3 forced fumbles)
  • LB Preston Smith, Sr., 6-1, 180 (57 tackles, 6 sacks, 14 QB pressures, 1 PBU, 2 forced fumbles, 2 recoveries)

 

Just the facts
  • Atlanta is shooting for its first state semifinal berth since 2003.
  • Gilmer is 5-2 in fourth-round playoff games since 2004.
  • Atlanta is averaging 40.8 points and 422.3 yards per game -- 321.5 rushing and 100.8 passing.
  • The Rabbits' defense is allowing 23.1 points per game, 7.3 in the playoffs.
  • Atlanta's four losses came to Henderson, Pittsburg, Liberty-Eylau, and Center, who were a combined 39-9 (.813) on the season.
  • Gilmer is averaging 42.4 points and 421.5 yards per game -- 217.6 rushing and 203.9 passing.
  • The Buckeyes' defense is allowing 19.4 points per game, and has forced 34 turnovers on the season -- 18 interceptions and 16 fumble recoveries.
  • Gilmer's 29-game winning streak is the longest in school history.

 

Atlanta running back Tyrell Phillips (right) has rushed for more than 2,000 yards on the season. (Evan Lewis, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Atlanta rushing attack vs. Gilmer defensive front. With the graduation of last season's quarterback Chase Musgrove, Atlanta has shifted its area of focus on the offensive side of the ball. The scheme hasn't changed all that much, but the Rabbits are much more run-heavy in 2015. Senior running back Tyrell Phillips enters Friday's game with Gilmer having eclipsed the 2,000-yard rushing mark, and quarterback/athlete Jeremy Smith has also joined the 1,000-yard rushing club. For the season, the Rabbits average well over 300 rushing yards per game, while the passing game has struggled to reach triple digits on a weekly basis. Atlanta's touchdown-to-interception ratio is also not ideal, with 13 touchdowns to nine interceptions in 174 passing attempts. In order for Atlanta to have success moving the ball, its running game will need to be at the top of its game.

Gilmer RB/LB Demarco Boyd. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

Gilmer's defense, which has been the team's strength all season long, will attempt to make Atlanta one-dimensional by stuffing the run. The Rabbits are one of the few teams remaining in the playoffs that can match up with Gilmer from an overall team speed standpoint, so it will come down to the Buckeyes making tackles. The anchor of Gilmer's defensive attack is senior Demarco Boyd, who will line up in a variety of spots on the field, and work to exploit the weak spots in Atlanta's offense. Tristain Olivares, Cambron Granville, and Preston Smith aid in a lot of the dirty work up front for Gilmer. And when plays break beyond the first and second level, there haven't been too many secondary defenders in all of East Texas better than Buckeyes junior safety Kollin Hurt. The Gilmer standout enters Friday's game the team-leader in tackles with 101, and has 10 interceptions on the year, including five in the playoffs.

Don't be surprised if: Friday's game is more competitive than last season's state quarterfinal between Gilmer and Atlanta, a 64-25 Gilmer victory. Atlanta enters this week on the heels of consecutive playoff shutouts of Coldspring-Oakhurst and Lorena, while scoring a combined 83 points. The Rabbits also began the playoffs with a convincing 44-22 win over Bullard, a team that Gilmer had to rally against in the second half to earn a district victory. Atlanta also played Liberty-Eylau to within one point, 44-43, in the final week of non-district, while Gilmer was able to knock off L-E, 50-45, in the season opener. There is nothing, other than last season's meeting, to suggest another lopsided game is on the horizon. Turnovers could play a big role, and Gilmer's defense has thrived on them all season, and especially in the playoffs. For the season, the Buckeyes have forced 34 turnovers -- 2.6 per game -- and that has helped fuel Gilmer's playoff scoring average of 46.3 points per game.