CLASS 2A DIVISION I
Region III Championship

No. 7 Alto Yellowjackets (11-0)

vs.

Centerville Tigers (9-3)

7:30 p.m. Friday
Wildcat Stadium, Palestine

 

Coaches
  • Alto: Paul Gould
  • Centerville: Kyle Hardee

 

Road to regional final

Alto

 

Centerville

  • Bi-district: bye
  • Area: def. San Augustine, 69-36
  • Regional semifinal: def. Carlisle, 41-0

 

Next week
  • Winner faces Refugio-Mason winner, 2A Division I state semifinal

 

Playmakers

Alto

  • QB Keenen Johnson, Jr. (67 of 106, 1,525 yards, 18 TDs, 4 INTs; 178 carries, 2,168 yards, 32 TDs)
  • RB/DB Jyran Shaw, Sr., 5-7, 150 (101 carries, 1,132 yards, 15 TDs; 6 catches, 95 yards, TD; 25 tackles, 3 for loss, 3 INTs, 7 PBUs)
  • WR L'Darius Pope, Sr., 6-0, 195 (18 catches, 589 yards, 9 TDs)
  • WR David Berryman, Sr. (10 catches, 211 yards, 4 TDs)
  • WR/DE JaVie'Ontae Mumphrey, Sr., 6-4, 205 (11 catches, 192 yards, TD; 3 carries, 52 yards, TD; 43 tackles, 25 for loss, 5 sacks, PBU, 5 fumble recoveries)
  • RB/LB Tyarius Hackett, Sr., 5-10, 225 (18 carries, 128 yards, 7 TDs; 10 catches, 182 yards, 2 TDs; 90 tackles, 14 for loss, sack, forced fumble, 3 recoveries, INT, PBU)
  • LB Craig Collins, 5-9, 160, Jr. (110 tackles, 34 for loss, 5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 4 recoveries, PBU)
  • WR/DB Leroy Lewis, Sr., 6-1, 165 (9 catches, 225 yards, TD; 11 carries, 67 yards, TD; 65 tackles, 13 for loss, 2 sacks, 2 forced fumble, 4 recoveries, PBU)

 

Centerville

  • RB/DL Trevor Goolsby, Jr., 6-0, 185 (116 carries, 647 yards, 15 TDs)
  • RB/DB Tully Pickens, Sr. (72 carries, 671 yards, 8 TDs)
  • QB/DB Cade Harris, Sr., 6-2, 175 (26 of 47, 470 yards, 7 TDs, 2 INTs; 45 carries, 270 yards, 8 TDs)
  • WR Haden Nash, Sr., 5-8, 145 (7 catches, 128 yards, 3 TDs)
  • RB Chance Carrigan, Sr. (78 carries, 518 yards, 6 TDs)
  • LB Trey Williams, Sr., 6-1, 180 
  • LB Kyle Harris, Sr., 5-11, 210
  • LB Garrett Wager, Soph., 5-10, 165

 

Just the facts
  • Since ex-longtime coach Lucky Gamble's arrival in Alto in 1993, the Yellowjackets have accumulated a record of 223-51 and have missed the playoffs only once.
  • In the last 22 seasons, Alto has 11 years of more than 10 wins and has played for three state titles (1995, 2006, 2007).
  • Alto is aiming for its 12th win in a season for the first time since '07.
  • For the season, Alto is averaging 53.9 points and 500.8 total yards per game -- 358.7 rushing and 142.1 passing.
  • The cumulative record of Alto's opponents this season is 65-56 (.537).
  • Centerville is 31-6 over the last three seasons. Its last two playoffs losses came to Hughes Springs (28-27, 2012) and Corrigan-Camden (22-20, 2013).
  • For the season, Centerville is averaging 45 points per game, while allowing 21.
  • The cumulative record of Centerville's opponents this season is 79-53 (.598).

 

Alto's Keenen Johnson drops back to pass during the Yellowjackets' 47-0 win over Union Grove in their Class 2A Division I regional semifinal playoff Nov. 28 in Carthage. (Bud Worley, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Alto rushing attack vs. Centerville defensive front. There aren't too many offenses in all of 2A as explosive as the one the Alto Yellowjackets will bring into Palestine on Friday night. The 'Jackets have not been to held to less than 31 points all season and have put up at least 50 points in seven of their 11 games, including a 72-21 non-district demolition of Tenaha (10-1), which is still going strong in the 2A Division II playoffs. If there was one defining characteristic about Alto's offense it would be speed. Armed with several of this season's impact performers on the gridiron, the 'Jackets sped away with the 1A Division I team title at the UIL State Track and Field Meet last spring in Austin. But the catalyst for Alto's dynamic offensive attack is junior quarterback Keenen Johnson, who is putting together one of the best seasons for any quarterback in the region. Coming into this week's state quarterfinal, Johnson has amassed almost 3,700 total yards and accounted for 50 touchdowns. The passing numbers are solid, but it's what he does on the ground that's been special, with more than 2,100 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns in just 11 games. Add 1,100-yard rusher Jyran Shaw, a prominent member of the aforementioned championship track squad, to the mix and Alto's rushing attack would be a difficult chore for most defenses.

Alto RB Jyran Shaw. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Centerville, which dropped in classification during realignment, is coming off an impressive shutout of a 10-win Carlisle team that came into last week's regional semifinal averaging 35 points per game. But there have been instances in which the Tigers have allowed a few opponents to put up big numbers. Centerville allowed 60 points in a season-opening loss to Corrigan-Camden (10-2), 49 to perennial power and second-ranked Mart (12-0) in its non-district finale, and 36 to San Augustine (6-6) in the area round of the playoffs. In addition to Alto's explosiveness on offense, the 'Jackets' defense has come on strong as well down the stretch. During its last five games, Alto is holding opponents to an average of 10.8 points per game, including last week's shutout of previously unbeaten Union Grove. If Alto continues its solid play on the defensive side of the ball on Friday, that puts even more pressure on Centerville's defense to put the clamps down when the 'Jackets have possession.

Alto WR/DB L'Darius Pope. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Don't be surprised if: Alto's quarterback Keenen Johnson continues to shine. No defense has had an answer for the breakthrough athlete all season long, and while Centerville could be Alto's best opponent since Tenaha, Johnson has already shown a penchant for being at his best against the best. The 'Jackets' eye-opening, 51-point rout of fellow small-school giant Tenaha was Johnson's most productive game of the season. In that win, Johnson rolled up a school-record 467 total yards of offense -- 327 rushing, 140 passing -- and was responsible for seven touchdowns in helping Alto post 690 yards as a team against a Tenaha defense that otherwise has allowed opponents an average of 17.3 points per game. Because of Johnson's phenomenal success on the ground, his passing prowess can have a demoralizing effect on defenses. More than one-quarter of Johnson's passing attempts have gone for touchdowns, as the dual-threat QB puts up a healthy average of 22.8 yards per completion. Until a defense is able to contain the electrifying playmaker, it would be wise to expect more of the same Friday night.