Jasper + Palestine Match Similar Styles in First-Round Bout at SFA
Class 3A Division I Region III
Palestine Wildcats (7-3)
Jasper Bulldogs (6-3)
7:30 p.m. Friday
SFA's Homer Bryce Stadium, Nacogdoches
- Palestine: Lance Angel
- Jasper: Darrell Barbay
- Palestine: lost 54-0 vs. Fairfield
- Jasper: won 52-14 vs. Center
- Winner faces Waco La Vega (5-5) or Taylor (3-7) in a 3A Division I Region III area playoff.
- RB Ben Luckett, Sr., 6-0, 195 (145 carries, 1,098 yards, 12 TDs; 6 catches, 130 yards, 1 TD)
- QB Gee Clark, Jr., 6-0, 165 (86 of 161, 1,530 yards, 17 TDs, 8 INTs; 50 carries, 276 yards, 6 TDs)
- RB/OLB Jarrell Owens, Sr., 6-3, 230 (committed to TCU; 66 carries, 583 yards, 5 TDs; 11 catches, 168 yards, 1 TD; 3 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles)
- OL Brian Thlang, Sr., 6-2, 290 (committed to ULM)
- WR/DB Sheldon Watson (25 catches, 574 yards, 11 TDs; 47 tackles, 1 INT, 1 def. TD)
- LB Brian Gummelt, Sr., 5-9, 175 (73 tackles, 11 for loss, 4 sacks, 2 forced fumbles)
- WR Marquis Clark (18 catches, 187 yards, 2 TDs)
- LB Isaiah Mitchell (42 tackles, 11 for loss, 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles)
- LB Chris Weaver, Jr., 5-9, 175 (30 tackles, 7 for loss, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble)
- RB Terrance "Tiki" Cuney, Sr., 5-9, 200 (119 carries, 1,103 yards, 12 TDs; 2 receiving TDs)
- OL Terrell Cuney, Sr., 6-3, 260 (committed to Texas)
- LB DeAnthony Cuney, Sr., 5-10, 230 (78 tackles, 14 for loss, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 1 kick block)
- QB Steve Walker, Sr., 5-10, 185 (63 of 111, 1,175 yards, 14 TDs, 4 INTs; 3 rushing TDs)
- ATH Randy Spikes (46 carries, 615 yards, 5 TDs; 13 of 21, 134 yards, 2 TDs, 3 INTs; 34 tackles, 4 for loss, 2 INTs)
- WR/DB Chris Spikes, Jr., 6-1, 175 (23 catches, 354 yards, 4 TDs; 2 INTs)
- LB Devanta Hawthorne, Jr. (89 tackles, 7 for loss, 2 forced fumbles)
- LB Markeith Cauley, Sr. (71 tackles, 19 for loss, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery)
- LB Deroddrick Hadnot, Sr., 5-5, 155 (58 tackles, 11 for loss, 4 forced fumbles, 3 defensive TDs)
- TE Shawn Jones, Sr., 6-1, 225 (12 catches, 297 yards, 5 TDs)
- WR Jamarcus Reed (12 catches, 278 yards, 3 TDs)
- WR Zach Craig, Sr. (16 catches, 192 yards, 1 TD)
Just the facts
- Palestine finished 7-4 in 2012 with a 30-27 first-round loss to eventual D-I state semifinalist Carthage.
- Jasper finished 9-3 in 2012 with a 59-14 second-round loss to eventual D-II state champion Navasota.
- Palestine's 54-0 home loss to Fairfield last week snapped a four-game winning streak and was the Wildcats' first loss since a 35-28 defeat at Athens on Sept. 27.
- Jasper is 5-1 since a 1-2 start with its lone only loss coming to Carthage in a 41-26 Oct. 25 home defeat.
- In those five wins, Jasper did not allow more than 16 points and held three opponents to single digits.
- Palestine averages 34.3 points per game and allows 26.7.
- Jasper averages 37.6 points per game and yields 16.6.
- Palestine averages 381.5 total yards per game: 224.1 rushing, 157.4 passing.
- Jasper averages 388.8 total yards per game: 243.3 rushing, 145.4 passing.
- Palestine's nine regular-season opponents went a combined 52-48.
- Jasper's nine regular-season opponents combined for a 38-49 record.
Key matchup: Palestine defensive front vs. Jasper running game. Palestine's three regular-season losses came against teams that run the ball very well: Chapel Hill, Athens, and Fairfield.
Those three teams each scored at least 35 points against the Wildcats and averaged 50.3 points per game thanks to Chapel Hill's 62-27 win (Sept. 20) and Fairfield's 54-0 win (Nov. 8).
Jasper presents another tough task with its running game, which averages almost 250 yards per game. The two main ball carriers are Terrance "Tiki" Cuney and Randy Spikes, a duo that has combined for more than 1,700 yards. Cuney is the primary ball carrier with 13.2 rushes and 122.6 yards per game.
One of Jasper's most impressive rushing performances of the season came in the Bulldogs' 41-26 home loss to Carthage on Oct. 25. Cuney ran for 261 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries against a defense that yielded 42 total points in its final five regular-season games (26 of that, obviously, against Jasper).
If Jasper gets similar production Friday, Palestine will be in trouble. But if the Wildcats get a big game from a strong linebacker corps led by Brian Gummelt and Isaiah Mitchell, they could get Jasper off the field and give their own standout running back, Ben Luckett, a chance to run wild.
Don't be surprised if: Friday's game seems like teams that are a mirror image of each other.
Both teams have a great running back: Palestine's Ben Luckett and Jasper's Tiki Cuney. Both teams have Division I FBS-bound offensive linemen: Palestine's Brian Thlang (committed to ULM) and Jasper's Terrell Cuney (committed to Texas). Both teams run a 3-4 defense with a strong linebacker corps as the defensive backbone. Both teams have quarterbacks -- Palestine's Gee Clark and Jasper's Steve Walker -- with solid touchdown-to-interception ratios and receiving corps who are better than their statistics might suggest.
Friday's winner could be viewed as a dangerous sleeper team in the 3A D-I Region III bracket. Neither team would have to deal with Carthage or Navasota until the regional final, and both would likely be favored to win an area playoff against Waco La Vega or Taylor. A third-round matchup against West Orange-Stark is likely for the winner.
So who's 3-4 defense and run-first offense wins? Jasper may be a slight favorite entering the contest, but it will be fun to watch this relatively even matchup in a great venue for a high school football game.