Kilgore Bulldogs (1-3)

Vs.

Gladewater Bears (3-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday

R.E. St. John Stadium, Kilgore

 

Coaches
  • Kilgore: Mike Wood
  • Gladewater: John Berry

 

Last week
  • Kilgore: Lost to Texas High in triple overtime, 19-13
  • Gladewater: defeated Carthage, 37-23

 

Next week
  • Kilgore: idle
  • Gladewater: idle 

 

Playmakers

Kilgore

  • RB Kevrin Justice, Sr., 6-0, 180 (55 carries, 297 yards, 2 TDs; 4 catches, 43 yards; committed to Houston)
  • TE/DE Jarod Wood, Sr., 6-2, 200 (9 catches, 237 yards, 4 TDs; 9 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble)
  • LB Kris Haynes, Sr., 5-11, 220 (49 tackles, 4 for loss, 5 sacks, 5 QB pressures, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovery)
  • QB Xaviar Gaona, Sr., 6-4 170 (33 of 52, 517 yards, 5 TDs, 5 INT; 22 carries, 99 yards)
  • OL Blake Guthrie
  • DL Jacobe Wafer, Sr. (14 tackles, 1 QB pressure, 1 forced fumble, 1 punt blocked)
  • LB Mason Shelton, Jr. (22 tackles, 2 for loss, 1 QB pressure, 1 forced fumble)
  • RB Jacquorius Smith, Jr., 5-8, 175 (72 carries, 584 yards, 7 TDs)

 

Gladewater

  • DT Daylon Mack, Sr., 6-1, 330 (14 tackles for loss; 53 rushing yards, 2 TDs, 1 2-point conversion vs. Carthage; committed to Texas A&M)
  • RB James Reese, Sr., 5-9, 165 (141 yards vs. Carthage)
  • DL Quanterius Turner, Jr., 6-2, 280
  • FB Justice Centers, Jr., 5-11, 220
  • RB Darnell McKnight, Soph., 5-11, 195 (102 rushing yards on six carries vs. Carthage)
  • WR Caleb Williams, Jr., 5-11, 160
  • DB Daylon “Duke” Gordon, Sr., 5-10, 155
  • RB Marcello Jackson, Jr., 6-0, 177
  • RB Daryl Polk, Sr., 5-5, 175

 

Just the facts
  • Since 1980, Gladewater and Kilgore have met four times.
  • Kilgore leads the span 3-1.
  • The two teams did not face each other between 1981 and 2011, but the squads will be meeting for the third straight season.
  • Gladewater won the 1981 game.
  • Gladewater will be headlined by Texas A&M defensive tackle commit Daylon Mack. He is considered one of the best at his position nationally.
  • Mack leads East Texas in tackles for loss with 14.
  • Friday will complete Gladewater's competition against the Class 3A Division I state championship competitors. It faced Carthage last week in a 37-23 win.
  • Kilgore is 1-3 for the first time since 2010. It has not been 1-4 since the 1990 season.
  • Despite the three early losses, Kilgore has competed very well. Its first two losses came by three combined points and it lost last week against Texas High in triple overtime.
  • Gladewater is undefeated at home and inside the state. Its sole loss was in Shreveport against Lafayette (La.) St. Thomas More in Shreveport, La., two weeks ago.
  • Friday's game will be the non-district finale for both teams.
  • Should both teams make the playoffs, the sides have no chance of meeting. Kilgore would be competing in the 4A Division I bracket and Gladewater would be in the 4A Division II setting.

 

Kilgore running back and Houston commitment Kevrin Justice helps give the Bulldogs a solid one-two punch on the ground alongside Jacquorius Smith. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Kilgore's running game versus Gladewater's defense. The Bears should not have it as easy against the Bulldogs as they did against a one-dimensional Carthage offense. Whereas Carthage is relying on young running backs, Kilgore has an established offense and a good passing game to complement it.

Jacquorius Smith is East Texas' seventh-leading rusher and on pace for a 1,000-yard regular season. He should pace the Kilgore offense Friday. Kevrin Justice, a Houston verbal commitment, has about 300 yards on 55 carries. He missed a game due to injury.

Gladewater is in good position though with Daylon Mack anchoring the defensive line and a surrounding cast of promising run stoppers. Daingerfield, Pittsburg and Carthage had very limited success against the Bears' defense in previous games this season.

Kilgore, however, should be the best put together offense Gladewater has faced in Texas this season. The Bears did not perform very well against St. Thomas More's two-pronged attack in Shreveport.

If Kilgore's run game can move the ball, quarterback Xaviar Gaona should be able to keep Gladewater honest as solid passer in the top-third of East Texas offensive production.

Don't be surprised if: Kilgore gives Gladewater its most exciting game yet. The Bulldogs have played an extremely tough schedule up to this point. It featured narrow losses to Nacogdoches, a perennially good Corpus Christi Flour Bluff team and Texas High in addition to a convincing win against Pine Tree.

Kilgore also has the luxury of establishing the pass or the run first. If something isn't working offensively, the Bulldogs should be able to circle back to it later provided at least one aspect of its play calling is successful quickly. Gladewater will have to bring its A-game to live up to its role as a small favorite.

Kilgore quarterback Xaviar Gaona. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)