CLASS 4A DIVISION II BI-DISTRICT

Pleasant Grove Hawks (6-4)

vs.

Gilmer Buckeyes (10-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Sam Parker Field, Mount Pleasant

Coaches
  • Pleasant Grove: Josh Gibson
  • Gilmer: Matt Turner
Last week
  • Pleasant Grove: def. Tatum, 42-21
  • Gilmer: def. Emory Rains, 49-22
Next week
  • Winner faces winner between Mexia and Shepherd, area round

Playmakers

Pleasant Grove

 

  • QB Carson Cox, Soph., 6-3, 175
  • RB Logan Wesley, Jr., 5-7, 180
  • LB Mark Ashby, Sr.
  • DL Jackson Pace, Jr., 6-3, 210
  • DB Xavier Benson, Sr., 6-4, 180
  • WR/DB Vashon Williams, Sr.
  • DL Hunter Adams, Sr., 6-0, 200
  • FB Landon Shelton, Sr., 6-0, 220

 

Gilmer

 

  • RB/DL/LB Demarco Boyd, Sr., 6-0, 220 (59 carries, 377 yards, 10 TDs; 27 catches, 349 yards, 4 TDs; 37 tackles, 2 sacks,  INT, 1 1 PBU, 1 fumble recovery; committed to Texas)
  • RB Kelton Collier, Jr., 6-0, 200 (108 carries, 717 yards, 12 TD)
  • QB Zac Spears, Sr., 5-9, 170 (134-234, 1,805 yards, 21 TDs, 4 INTs, 26 carries, 117 yards, 1 TD)
  • DB Kollin Hurt, Jr., 6-3, 170 (70 tackles, 4 INTs, 5 PBUs)
  • RB/LB Cambron Granville, Jr., 5-7, 160 (44 tackles, 1 sack, 2 PBU, 1 forced fumble)
  • DL Tristan Olivares, Sr., 5-7, 185 (50 tackles, 7 sacks, 11 QB pressures, 1 forced fumble)

 

Just the facts
  • The two team's met in last season's opening playoff game, a 50-7 win for Gilmer.
  • Pleasant Grove enters the game as the fourth-place finisher from District 6-4A Division II. It clinched its playoff spot a week before the final game.
  • Gilmer, the defending Class 4A Division II state champion, is the No. 1 seed from District 5-4A Division II.
  • The Buckeyes are on a 26-game winning streak. They have not lost a game since the 2013 season.
  • Gilmer is averaging 424.6 yards per game with 47.1 percent of the yardage coming through the air. It is a very balanced team.
  • Mount Pleasant's Sam Parker Field is a 37-mile bus ride for the Buckeyes and a 65-mile drive for the Hawks.
Pleasant Grove receiver VaShon Williams could be the beneficiary if the Hawks establish their running game early. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Pleasant Grove's running game versus Gilmer's defensive front.

The Hawks are considerable underdogs to the defending state champions. Pleasant Grove's best route to an upset is dictating the pace of play. Head coach Josh Gibson's team has that capability with a team nearly twice as reliant on its running game than its passing.

If Pleasant Grove can find lanes to run the ball, they will gain yardage and they will keep an explosive Buckeyes offense on the sideline for longer than the competition is accustomed to. That would be a double win for the Hawks. From there, the team only has to worry about matching a smaller amount of points.

Logan Wesley, a junior, will lead the Hawks offense. He's near the 1,000-yard mark and leads six runners with at least 100 yards this season behind a quick, athletic offensive line.

Sophomore quarterback Carson Cox has a strong arm and is a threat to catch Gilmer napping with the occasional pass. He averages about 11 pass attempts per game while VaShon Williams and Keshawn Jones have been efficient on their receptions. Both receivers are past the 300-yard mark and neither has more than 20 catches.

This is a game that probably will be won as much in the trenches as anywhere else. There's no denying the consistent strength of the Hawks' offense is within the running game.

Gilmer counters with senior Texas commitment Demarco Boyd, an athlete that can play either linebacker or defensive line, and defensive tackle Tristain Olivares as its headliners. The duo have solid numbers in the pass rushing department, which indicates good offensive line penetration. In this game, they simply must catch Wesley and other backs running in between the offensive tackles.

The Buckeyes' defensive front is further strengthened by linebacker Cambron Granville. Safety safety Kollin Hurt can come crashing down to aid in run support.

Each of the aforementioned Gilmer defenders were starters on last season's state championship team.

Don't be surprised if: Friday's game is much more competitive than last season's 50-7 Gilmer win against Pleasant Grove. The Hawks enter the meeting with the same 6-4 record, but won games more comfortably this season while putting up more competitive efforts in the loss. And no one can deny Gilmer's losses of current Texas defensive back Kris Boyd and Baylor receiver Blake Lynch negate some of the undefendable plays the Buckeyes were able to create in last year's bi-district meeting. Pleasant Grove will have to turn in a nearly flawless game, but an upset isn't entirely out of the question.

Gilmer linebacker Cambron Granville (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)