Improving Marshall Hosts District-Leading Texas High in Friday’s 14-4A Matchup
Texas High Tigers (7-1, 3-0)
Marshall Mavericks (3-5, 2-1)
7:30 p.m. Friday
Maverick Stadium, Marshall
- Texas High: Barry Norton
- Marshall: Clint Harper
- Texas High: won 51-15 at Mount Pleasant
- Marshall: won 45-42 at Pine Tree
- Texas High: vs. Hallsville
- Marshall: at Sulphur Springs
- RB Tre Walker, Sr., 5-8, 170 (184 carries, 1,034 yards, 10 TDs)
- LB Anthony Rhone, Sr., 6-1, 210 (committed to SMU)
- QB/P Dakota Hunter, Sr., 5-11, 170 (79 of 113, 912 yards 9 TDs, 8 INTs; 34.4 yards per punt)
- DB Kevin Harris, Sr., 6-2, 170 (2 INTs)
- DB Marquan Daniels, Sr., 5-10, 155 (3 INTs)
- ATH Javon Thomas, Jr., 6-1, 190 (42 carries, 234 yards, 2 TDs)
- DE Wanya Jenkins, Sr., 6-3, 210
- LB Aaron Faucette, Sr., 6-1, 178
- DT Will Brown, Jr., 6-2, 276
- K Mantas Urieneizus, Jr., 5-7, 150 (5 FGs, 19 PATs)
- QB Justin Hart, Soph. (88 of 164, 1,289 yards, 10 TDs, 6 INTs)
- ATH Jauque Kukyendall, Sr. (95 carries, 788 yards, 8 TDs; 11 catches, 94 yards, 1 TD; 1 KO return TD)
- RB Deondre Osborne, Soph. (71 carries, 336 yards, 4 TDs; 13 catches, 184 yards, 3 TDs)
- WR Marek Reyes, Sr. (27 catches, 381 yards, 3 TDs; 35 carries, 206 yards)
- WR Mitchell Leonard, Sr. (23 catches, 453 yards, 3 TDs)
- DB Dontavius Boyd, Sr. (60 tackles)
- DB Tacory Robinson, Sr. (26 tackles, 2 INTs)
- OT Chett Munden, Jr., 6-5, 292
- DL Antonio Washington, Soph. (28 tackles, 1 sack)
- K Emanuel Acuna, Sr. (3-for-3 FGs, 24-for-26 PATs)
Just the facts
- Texas High is 30-19-1 vs. Marshall since 1947.
- Marshall has won eight of the last 12 meetings.
- Texas High won last year’s meeting 20-6.
- Texas High averages 32.8 points per game and allows 11.1.
- Marshall averages 26.3 points per game and allows 45.6.
- Texas High has won five consecutive games since its only loss, a 38-37 home decision to Tyler Lee on Sept. 22.
- Since that loss, Texas High has held five opponents to 43 points (8.6 per game).
- Texas High has allowed more than 15 points in a game once this season. The Tigers have held 5 of 8 opponents to eight points or fewer.
- Marshall has won back-to-back games and three of its last four after an 0-4 start to the season.
- During that span, Marshall has averaged 41.8 points per game after scoring 10.8 per contest in its first four games.
- Marshall’s 0-4 start came against teams that are a combined 29-1 entering Friday night’s action. The lone loss is Longview’s 32-24 season-opening setback against Coppell.
Key matchup: Marshall’s running game vs. Texas High’s front seven. Marshall lines up in a spread offense, but ask first-year head coach Clint Harper what he wants his offense to do, first and foremost, and he’ll tell you run the ball.
That’s exactly what the Mavericks have done in their last four games, which have resulted in a 3-1 record that has turned around Marshall’s 2013 season. Senior playmaker Jauque Kukyendall has spearheaded the burgeoning rushing attack, racking up 639 yards and six touchdowns in this four-game stretch, which has seen him average 11.4 yards per carry. Kuykendall ran for 403 yards and three scores on only 27 carries during the Mavs’ back-to-back District 14-4A wins against Mount Pleasant and Pine Tree.
Deondre Osborne is also a threat. Only a sophomore, Osborne has shown flashes that have Marshall fans fired up about his next two years. He ran for 151 yards in a seven-point win against Jacksonville and has proven a capable pass-catcher out of the backfield. Osborne has good size for such a young player and has big-play ability.
Texas High counters with a defense that is statistically the best among East Texas’ Class 4A teams. The Tigers allow fewer than two touchdowns per game. They have yielded more than 15 points only once in eight games and held five opponents to single digits, shutting out two.
SMU-bound Anthony Rhone and fellow linebacker Aaron Faucette lead the unit, which has gotten strong play along the front from Wanya Jenkins and Will Brown. Then there’s the secondary, which boasts playmaking Marquan Daniels and state-caliber track athlete Kevin Harris. In other words, if Marshall decides to lean on promising sophomore quarterback Justin Hart’s arm, it’s far from easy against Texas High’s secondary.
Don’t be surprised if: The team that runs the ball better wins the game. Yes, that sounds simple, but most of the time, games are won and lost by simple concepts.
The only team to beat Texas High — Tyler Lee — ran for almost 300 yards on the Tigers and employed a shotgun-based spread that somewhat deceivingly revolves around a power running game, much like Marshall’s scheme.
Obviously, Texas High has had plenty of time to shore up its strong defense against such attacks in the almost six weeks since that loss, but it is something on which the underdog Mavericks may hang their hats while preparing for this game.
On the line is a perfect 14-4A run for Texas High and a still-up-for-grabs playoff berth for Marshall, though with wins against Pine Tree and Mount Pleasant, the Mavs are looking better and better to snap their two-year postseason drought.
Maybe the most interesting part of this matchup is that both teams appear to be trending back to where they’ve been in the recent past — atop their district(s). A win gives Texas High the most its had since a 9-2 campaign in 2008. Marshall doesn’t have to win the game to keep its momentum going, though if the Mavs pulled off the upset, it would be a clear message that Harper has his alma mater ahead of schedule on the rebuilding timeline.