Marshall Takes On Nacogdoches For Intriguing Playoff Matchup
Class 5A Division II
Nacogdoches Dragons (7-3)
Marshall Mavericks (6-4)
7:30 p.m. Friday
Pine Tree's Pirate Stadium, Longview
- Nacogdoches: Bobby Reyes
- Marshall: Clint Harper
- Winner plays Lancaster-South Oak Cliff winner in the Class 5A Division II area round.
- CB Jaylon Lane, Sr., 6-2, 180 (East Texas’ Class of 2015 scholarship leader with 38 offers; 50 tackles, 6 PBU, 2 INTs)
- S Brandon Jones, Jr., 6-0, 192 (East Texas’ Class of 2016 scholarship leader with 31 offers, 4 complete games played due to midseason knee injury, 20 tackles, 2 FF, 2 PBU)
- S Corey Lane, Jr., 5-11, 185 (69 tackles, 2 PBU, 1 INT)
- LB Jesse Graham, Sr. (83 tackles, 1 FF)
- QB Hunter McClellan, Sr., 6-2, 175 (128 of 225, 2,161 passing yards, 19 passing TDs, 6 INTs, 56 carries, 179 net rushing yards)
- WR Ken Rogers, Sr., 5-11, 167 (28 catches, 585 yards, 7 TDs)
- WR Tae Thomas, Sr., 5-7, 160 (32 catches, 489 yards, 5 TDs)
- RB Coronado Tolbert, Sr. (259 carries, 1,669 yards, 20 TDs)
- OL Chett Munden, Sr., 6-6, 305 (committed to North Texas)
- ATH Cameron Haller, Soph., 5-10, 185
- WR John Love, Sr., 5-11, 185
- RB Deondre Osborne, Jr., 5-9, 210
- RB Chavis Mills, Jr., 5-9, 185
- QB Justin Hart, Jr., 5-9, 175
- DL Trey Valentine, Sr., 6-3, 225
- DL Antonio Washington, Jr., 6-1, 265
Just the facts
- Nacogdoches is making its second consecutive playoff appearance but only its fourth since 1965.
- Marshall also is competing in the postseason for the second straight year after a letdown following deep runs in the mid to late 2000s.
- In addition to beating Sulphur Springs to clinch a playoff spot, Marshall stole the No. 1 seed in District 15-5A in the Class 5A Division II playoffs in the process.
- Nacogdoches, meanwhile, is coming off a deflating 44-14 loss to John Tyler last week.
- Friday's game will be played at Pine Tree's Pirate Stadium. It's 33 miles from Marshall and a 73-mile drive for Nacogdoches.
- The Dragons are seeking a trip out to the area round for the first time this century.
- Marshall's last trip to the area round came in 2009.
- The two teams share no common opponents.
Key matchup: Nacogdoches' running game versus Marshall's defensive front. The Dragons are at their best when Coronado Tolbert, an East Texas leading rusher, is effective. John Tyler held him to an ultimate season low 21 yards last week in a blowout win, but the lead back still has 1,669 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns this season.
Marshall might have a defensive front with the answer. It held Sulphur Springs' Larry Pryor to 155 rushing yards on 18 attempts out of his quarterback spot while also being forced to respect his passing abilities.
The Mavericks defense has not allowed any opponent to more than 29 in its six wins this season.
Nacogdoches has a balanced attack with preference to Tolbert doing the heavy lifting. Quartererback Hunter McClellan has turned in an excellent senior season, however, with 2,161 passing yards and 19 touchdowns. Marshall will have to respect the Dragons' passing game as much as any team it has played this season.
The key to the Mavericks' defensive success rests along its defensive line. Antonio Washington and Trey Valentine are big high school linemen who can bring a good pass rush and seal primary running gaps.
Marshall will counter with an effective offense led by quarterback Justin Hart and all-around athlete Cameron Haller. DeAndre Osborne leads a good run game and John Love is a dangerous receiver in open space.
Nacogdoches' vaunted defensive backfield could get a real test from a passer as accurate as Hart.
The Mavericks certainly have momentum after finishing the regular season on a two-game winning streak. The Dragons were embarrassed last week in Tyler. That's a secondary factor in the game.
Don't be surprised if: Friday's game rides with Nacogdoches' key running back. When Tolbert has a good day on the ground, things open up for McClellan and an athletic passing game.
If Tolbert adjusts well to the Marshall defensive front, it could be a long day, tiring day for the opposing defense at Pirate Stadium.