Harleton Must Find A Way to Slow Down Alto Standout Jacolby Whitaker
Class A Division I Region III
Harleton Wildcats (7-3)
Alto Yellowjackets (8-2)
7:30 p.m. Friday
Bradsahw Stadium, New London
Harleton: Jackie Lloyd
Alto: Keith Gardner
Next week: Winner plays Hull-Daisetta in a 1A Division I Region III area playoff.
- QB Taylor Henson (52 of 110, 788 yards, 10 TDs, 5 INTs)
- FB Jack Underwood (81 carries, 449 yards, 5 TDs)
- WR Phoenix Young (22 catches, 489 yards, 5 TDs)
- LB Chase Duncan (136 tackles, 3 QB pressures, 1 forced fumble)
- LB Louis Wilson (121 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 6 recoveries, 2 blocked kicks)
- RB Jacolby Whitaker (191 carries, 1,855 yards, 26 TDs)
- QB Zac Sturns (33 of 75, 577 yards, 8 TDs, 1 INT; 141 carries, 812 yards, 9 TDs)
- WR Anfernee Black (15 catches, 280 yards, 4 TDs)
- RB Jyran Shaw (62 carries, 549 yards, 5 TDs)
- WR David Berryman (8 catches, 148 yards, 1 TD)
Just the facts
- After having its string of eight consecutive playoff appearances snapped last season, Harleton is back in the playoffs with its most wins since 2009.
- Current head coach Jackie Lloyd was an assistant under former boss Dennis Alexander, who compiled a record of 78-36 record in his 10 seasons at the helm.
- Harleton is averaging 21.9 points per game, while its defense surrenders 16.4. The Wildcats do most of their damage on the ground where they pick up 176.2 yards per game.
- Alto is one of the state's winningest programs. Under head coach Keith Gardner, the Yellowjackets are 77-18 in his eight seasons in charge, including back-to-back state championships in 2006 and 2007.
- Since winning the 2007 state title, Alto has yet to eclipse the eight-win mark for a season. A win on Friday would give the Yellowjackets their most wins since their last championship season.
- Alto averages 37.6 points per game, while the defense is giving up 20.2.
Key matchup: Alto running game vs. Harleton defensive front. It's all going to be up to a Harleton defense to contain an explosive Alto offense, which features the combination of Jacolby Whitaker and Zac Sturns. The RB-QB duo have teamed for 2,667 yards and 35 touchdowns on the ground in 2012. As mentioned above, the Wildcats average just 21 points per game, so their defense is going to have to keep them in this one. If Alto scores at its usual clip, it doesn't appear Harleton has enough horses on offense to keep up. The Harleton linebacking duo of Chase Duncan and Louis Wilson have been getting the job done all season, combined for more than 200 tackles. But this will be perhaps the biggest challenge Harleton's defense has faced thus far.
Don't be surprised if: Alto relies on a steady dose of Whitaker, who's averaging close to 200 rushing yards per game. It's not just the yards, but the talented tailback has been getting them in big chunks all year, averaging 9.7 yards per rush. As the playoffs begin, teams will be going to their strengths even more than in the regular season. And Whitaker just might be the best player on the field Friday night.