Jasper Bulldogs (7-2, 2-1)
vs.
Center Roughriders (8-1, 2-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday
Roughrider Stadium, Center

Coaches
Jasper: Darrell Barbay
Center: Kevin Goodwin

Last week
Jasper: def. Huntington, 65-14
Center: idle

Playmakers

Jasper

  • RB Donavan Middleton, Sr., 5-10, 190
  • QB Steven Walker, Jr., 5-11, 190
  • WR Demarcus Collins, Sr., 5-11, 180
  • LB DeAnthony Cuney, Sr., 6-2, 215
  • RB Terrence Cuney, Sr., 5-9, 205
  • OL Terrell Cuney, Jr., 6-3, 270
  • DE Shawn Jones, Jr., 6-2, 225

 

Center

  • RB K.J. Garrett, Sr., 5-9, 178 (165 carries, 1,474 yards, 16 TDs; 16 catches, 133 yards, 2 TDs)
  • QB Dalton Horton, Soph., 6-3, 190 (76 of 139, 1,053 yards, 12 TDs, 11 INTs; 2 rush TDs)
  • LB Derrick Thomas, Sr., 6-0, 222 (109 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 2 recoveries)
  • LB Kiounis Williams, Jr., 5-10, 215 (108 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 INT, 3 forced fumbles, 1 recovery)
  • WR/DB DeJalen Preston, Jr., 6-0, 168 (12 catches, 198 yards, 3 TDs; 50 tackles, 4 INTs, 1 forced fumble, 2 recoveries)
  • DB Johnny Shaw, Soph. (78 tackles, 4 INTs, 2 forced fumbles, 3 recoveries)
  • WR Shaquille Ingram, Sr., 5-8, 159 (18 catches, 259 yards, 4 TDs; 26 carries, 116 yards, 1 TD)
  • WR Tony McCollister, Sr., 5-10, 150 (20 catches, 170 yards, 1 TD; 1 rush TD)
  • DB Darren Bolton, Sr. (36 tackles, 4 INTs, 1 kick block)
  • RB Jerenzic Evans, Sr. (34 carries, 352 yards, 2 TDs)

 

Just the facts

  • Jasper averages 42.0 points per game and allows 14.1.
  • Center averages 37.4 points per game and yields 19.7.
  • Carthage has beaten both teams.
  • Carthage beat Jasper 49-31 and topped Center 45-29.
  • Both teams have beaten Diboll and Huntington.
  • Jasper beat Diboll and Huntington by a combined score of 123-14, while Center outscored Diboll and Huntington 79-6.
  • Jasper is 3-1 vs. Center since 2008.
  • Jasper beat Center 31-28 in 2011.
  • Friday's winner is the No. 1 Division II playoff seed from District 20-3A, while the loser takes the No. 2 Division II seed (Carthage is the Division I seed).

 

 

Center LB Derrick Thomas. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Center's defensive front vs. Jasper's running game. Center has beaten some teams with capable ground attacks, such as Pine Tree, Atlanta, and Tatum. But the Roughriders' lone loss came to Carthage, which had a 200-yard rusher in the 16-point win at Center. Jasper will present a tough challenge for the Roughriders in that regard. Terrence Cuney, Donavan Middleton, and Deroderick Hadnot give Jasper three proven ball carriers, each of whom has his own unique talents that, combined with the others, allow the Bulldogs to very their running style and offensive pace. Cuney is a bruiser, Middleton is a nice balance of strength and speed, and Hadnot is a shifty, agile runner. Then there's Demarcus Collins, the receiver who Jasper likes to use in multiple ways. Center linebackers Derrick Thomas and Kiounis Williams will play a huge role in the Roughriders' tactics to counter Jasper's ground game. If Center can contain that rushing attack, coach Kevin Goodwin can get his own go-to back -- K.J. Garrett, one of East Texas' leading rushers -- on the field.

 

Center RB K.J. Garrett. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Don't be surprised if: This game goes down to the wire. Jasper's two losses have come to teams ranked in the top 10 of the Associated Press' Class 3A poll, and Center's lone defeat came to one of those same teams. In their losses to Carthage, Jasper and Center proved they can play with a team that appears poised for a deep playoff run. That suggests that these two teams could be looking at similar optimistic postseason outlooks. Both teams have non-senior quarterbacks who have complemented strong running games, and they also have strong linebacking corps who house their defensive playmakers. The running game matchup -- and the run fits that each team's defensive front executes against the opponent's ground attack -- will likely decide Friday's game for second place in District 20-3A. In other words, there's an old-school football tenet that could decide Friday's contest: who can run the ball and stop the run?