CLASS 4A DIVISION II BI-DISTRICT

Canton Eagles (5-5)

vs.

Gladewater Bears (5-5)

7 p.m. Thursday

Bobcat Stadium, Hallsville

 

Coaches
  • Canton: Robert Ivey
  • Gladewater: John Berry

 

Last week

 

Next week
  • Winner faces winner between Lorena and Cleveland Tarkington, area round

 

Playmakers

Canton

  • QB Hunter Moore, Jr., 6-0, 205 (131 of 247, 1,672 yards, 15 TDs, 11 INTs)
  • WR Zach Brown, Jr., 6-0, 165 (38 catches, 607 yards, 5 TDs)
  • RB Jordan Jackson, Sr., 5-6, 160 (130 carries, 949 yards, 8 TDs)
  • WR/LB Brazos Hesskew, Sr., 6-0, 190
  • OL/DL Ivan Nelson, Jr., 5-10, 230
  • WR/DB Tre Fitzgerald, Sr., 6-1, 180
  • WR Logan Nace, Sr.
  • DL Adolfo Rivera, Sr., 5-11, 220

 

Gladewater

  • RB/LB Darnell McKnight, Jr., 5-11, 225 (50 carries, 598 yards, 9 TDs; 57 tackles, 10 for loss, 3 forced fumbles, 3 recoveries, 2 PBUs, 1 blocked punt)
  • RB/LB Marcello Jackson, Sr., 6-0, 190 (137 carries, 980 yards, 15 TDs; 33 tackles, 1 for loss, 1 forced fumble, 1 INT)
  • FB Justice Centers, Sr., 6-0, 215 (104 carries, 589 yards, 3 TDs)
  • FB/DB Isaiah Davis, Soph., 5-11, 195 (56 carries, 392 yards, 4 TDs; 44 tackles, 2 INTs, 5 PBUs, 1 fumble recovery)
  • DL Quanterius Turner, Sr., 6-4, 275 (59 tackles, 18 for loss, 3 sacks)
  • DB Austin Hawley, Jr., 6-1, 195 (69 tackles, 1 for loss, 1 INT, 7 PBUs, 4 forced fumbles, 1 recovery, 1 blocked kick)
  • QB Blake Guthrie, Sr., 6-0, 165 (33 of 69, 601 yards, 8 TDs, 2 INTs; 29 carries, 144 yards, 3 TDs)
  • LB Bryston Oliver, Jr., 5-9, 180 (128 tackles, 21 for loss, 5 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries)

 

Just the facts
  • Gladewater and Canton are meeting for the sixth time since 1968. Gladewater has won four of the previous five matchups.
  • Gladewater is 5-2 in playoff games since 2013.
  • Canton is averaging 27.4 points per game, while allowing 25.3.
  • The Eagles are in the playoffs for the eight time in 13 seasons.
  • The cumulative record of Canton's opponents this season is 49-50 (.495).
  • Gladewater is averaging 34.8 points and 362.4 yards per game -- 283.1 rushing and 79.3 passing.
  • The Bears have won four of their last five after beginning the season 1-4.
  • The cumulative record of Gladewater's opponents this season is 57-43 (.570).

 

Gladewater RB/LB Darnell McKnight. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Gladewater rushing attack vs. Canton defensive front. Despite being saddled with injuries throughout the year in the backfield, the Bears remain one of East Texas' most productive rushing attacks. The rotation runs four deep when everyone is healthy. Starting fullback Justice Centers has missed three games this year, including the last two, and his replacement -- sophomore Isaiah Davis -- left last week's game against Center with an injury. Between Centers and Davis, Gladewater has gotten 981 yards and seven touchdowns. Fortunately for Gladewater, the tailback spots have been injury-free for the most part. Senior Marcello Jackson, the team's leading rusher, and junior Darnell McKnight have provided the Bears with their explosiveness in the running game. Jackson and McKnight have accounted for almost 1,600 yards and 24 touchdowns together, and McKnight's yards-per-carry average is an impressive 11.96.

Canton WR/DB Tre Fitzgerald. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

Gladewater bases its offense out of the I-formation, and uses its fullbacks often; Centers and Davis are averaging a combined 16 carries per game. The Bears get their tailbacks involved to keep opposing defenses from crashing hard on the upbacks. The offense sounds simple enough to defend, but so few teams in the state run this type of scheme anymore, and defenses aren't accustomed to the physicality that comes with it. Canton's stiffest competition in District 5-4A came from Gilmer and Bullard, which both operate primarily out of the spread formation. When Canton and Gladewater met in the first round of the 2013 playoffs, the Eagles had trouble slowing down the Bears' ground attack. Gladewater ran for 428 yards on just 43 attempts -- 9.95 yards per carry -- that night, and McKnight, Centers, and Jackson all ran for at least 87 yards.

Don't be surprised if: Canton takes its fair share of calculated risks on offense. Gladewater is at its best when it is able to dictate the game's tempo by sustaining long drives that consume minutes at a time. In last week's win over Center, which snapped the Roughriders' eight-game winning streak, Gladewater's two second-half scoring drives totaled 23 plays, 167 yards and lasted 13:10 -- more than one full quarter. Obviously, Canton's offense must do everything it can to put the pressure on Gladewater's ball-control attack. And that means staying on the field for long stretches at a time, which might require the Eagles going for it on fourth-and-short situations near midfield. Canton cannot allow too many possessions end without points, because the Eagles may not get as many chances with the ball as they typically have throughout the season.