CLASS 4A DIVISION II
Region II Area Playoff

No. 8 Gladewater Bears (10-1)

vs.

Fairfield Eagles (9-2)

7:30 p.m. Friday
Lobo Stadium, Longview

 

Coaches
  • Gladewater: John Berry
  • Fairfield: John Bachtel

 

Last week

 

Next week
  • Winner faces either Gilmer or Waco Connally, 4A Division II Region II semifinal

 

Playmakers

Gladewater

  • DT Daylon Mack, Sr., 6-1, 330 (committed to Texas A&M)
  • DL Quanterius Turner, Jr., 6-2, 280
  • RB James Reese, Sr., 5-9, 175
  • FB Justice Centers, Jr., 5-11, 220
  • RB Darnell McKnight, Soph., 5-11, 195
  • FB Daryl Polk, Sr., 5-5, 175
  • QB Nick Canaguier, Sr.
  • WR Caleb Williams, Jr., 5-11, 160

 

Fairfield

  • RB Charles Oliver, Jr., 6-2, 185 (88 carries, 869 yards, 13 TDs)
  • RB Dominic Brackens, Jr. (149 carries, 723 yards, 15 TDs)
  • QB Haisan Myers, Jr. (115 of 236, 1,714 yards, 10 TDs, 10 INTs; 131 carries, 426 yards, 9 TDs)
  • WR Chance Carroll, Sr., 6-0, 175 (37 catches, 606 yards, 5 TDs; 8 carries, 46 yards)
  • WR Cameron Hicks, Jr. (26 catches, 429 yards, 3 TDs)
  • WR Colby Minze, Sr. (34 catches, 469 yards, 2 TDs)
  • LB Devin Eggins, Sr., 5-8, 160 (167 tackles, 9 for loss, 2 sacks, 2 QB pressures, 2 forced fumbles, recovery, INT)
  • DE Jarett Carpenter, Jr., 6-5, 195 (55 tackles, 18 for loss, 12 sacks, 18 QB pressures, 4 forced fumbles, 2 recoveries, INT)

 

Just the facts
  • Gladewater is 4-1 in the playoffs over the last two seasons, its only loss coming to eventual state champion Argyle in last year's 3A Division II Region II final.
  • The Bears' 10 wins are their most since 2001's 12-2 team.
  • Gladewater is averaging 45.5 points per game, while allowing 18.7.
  • Over its last three games, Gladewater is averaging 59.3 points per outing.
  • The cumulative record of Gladewater's opponents is 53-62.
  • Fairfield is averaging 37.2 points and 361 yards per game -- 199.5 rushing and 161.5 passing.
  • Fairfield is 51-10 as a program since the beginning of the 2010 season.
  • The cumulative record of Fairfield's opponents is 51-67.

 

Gladewater RB James Reese. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Gladewater rushing attack vs. Fairfield defensive front. The key to the Bears' success all season long has been their ability to run the football, and run it at will. Gladewater's offensive backfield is as deep as they come in the 4A ranks, which means fresh legs are always on stand-by, often working against a tired defense that's been pounded on up front all night. It's a formula that's carried Gladewater to its highest win total in 13 years, and it's a game plan that will be put in motion once more Friday night. Gladewater had its way in last week's bi-district win, using 10 ball carriers to roll up 478 rushing yards, and that came without the services of its top two rushers. Starting tailback James Reese was excused to attend to a family matter, while fullback Justice Centers sat out with a nagging shoulder injury. First-year head coach John Berry expects both backs to return to the field this week. In their absence, Gladewater got a season-best performance from senior fullback Daryl Polk, who ran for 184 yards and four touchdowns on just 10 carries. The Bears have also have sophomore Darnell McKnight, junior Marcello Jackson, and even 330-pound defensive tackle Daylon Mack to hand the ball off to in their powerful rushing attack. If Gladewater is able to dictate the tempo with its running game, the Bears could have smooth sailing once again.

Gladewater FB Justice Centers. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Fairfield, while not as potent as it was a season ago in which the Eagles advanced all the way to the 3A Division II title game, has had a solid run on the defensive side of the ball this season. The Eagles come into Friday night's playoff matchup allowing a respectable 19.6 points per game, which will be put to the test against Gladewater. In order for Fairfield to have any chance of pulling off the second-round upset, it must be able to contain Gladewater's rushing attack enough to force the Bears into obvious passing situations. Bears senior quarterback Nick Canaguier's numbers are up compared to last season, but it's clear Gladewater would much rather stick to the ground if given the choice. Canaguier, however, has proven he has the ability to burn defenses deep by hitting receivers like Cameron Calloway for big gains in one-on-one situations. But in order for Gladewater to take advantage of Fairfield's secondary it first must establish the ground game.

Gladewater's Darnell McKnight rushes for a touchdown during the Bears' 54-14 home win over Spring Hill on Oct. 31. (Jim Frake, ETSN.fm)

Don't be surprised if: Gladewater continues to have success on the offensive side of the ball. Ever since the end of the 2013 regular season, the Bears have found a rhythm offensively that's yet to be solved by opposing defenses. Over its last 16 games, Gladewater is averaging more than 41 points per game, and has outscored opponents by an average of 20 points. Gladewater is 14-2 over that stretch with its only losses coming to the reigning state champion Argyle in the 2013 regional final and Louisiana power Lafayette St. Thomas More in Week 3 of this season. When they are at full strength in the backfield, the Bears feature perhaps the deepest backfield in all of East Texas, and arguably one of the deepest in the state at the 4A level. Whether it's Centers, Polk or Mack picking up key gains in short-yardage situations, or Reese, McKnight or Jackson gashing defenses for long gainers, Gladewater has found a highly effective method of producing points and wins. Fairfield lost several key members of last season's defense, which should give Gladewater's offense a big leg up in Friday night's area-round playoff.