Mineola’s Defense Holds The Key To Long-Awaited State Championship
CLASS 3A DIVISION I
State Championship Game
Yoakum Bulldogs (11-4)
Mineola Yellowjackets (13-2)
8 p.m. Thursday
AT&T Stadium, Arlington
- Yoakum: Bo Robinson
- Mineola: Joe Drennon
- WR/CB Joshua Moore, Jr., 6-3, 175 (25 catches, 516 yards, 8 TDs; 33 carries, 319 yards, 4 TDs)
- WR/SS Jordan Moore, Jr., 6-1, 185 (29 catches, 510 yards, 5 TDs; 43 carries, 506 yards, 5 TDs)
- RB Henry Enoch, Sr., 6-1, 210 (182 carries, 1,232 yards, 17 TDs)
- QB Bryson Hagan, Sr., 5-10, 165 (22 of 46, 484 yards, 8 TDs, 1 INT; 13 carries, 44 yards, 2 TDs)
- RB Tyron Brooks, Jr., 5-11, 175 (83 carries, 613 yards, 7 TDs)
- RB Ethan Owens, Sr., 6-3, 210 (133 carries, 746 yards, 4 TDs; 13 catches, 112 yards, 2 TDs)
- QB Jeremiah Crawford, Sr., 5-10, 185 (230 carries, 2,598 yards, 41 TDs, 49 of 105, 868 passing yards, 15 passing TDs, 7 INTs)
- RB Chantz Perkins, Sr., 5-6, 155 (151 carries, 1,262 yards, 19 TDs)
- DB/WR Cameron Sorenson, Jr., 6-2, 170 (133 tackles, 5 for loss, 2 INTs, 10 PBUs, 2 forced fumbles)
- DB Noah Sneed, Sr., 6-0, 195 (103 tackles, 2 for loss, 3 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries, 2 INTs, 6 PBUs)
- LB/WR Kartney Hampton, Sr., 5-8, 165 (81 tackles, 6 for loss, 1 INT, 1 fumble recovery)
- DL Drason Tenner, Sr., 5-9, 255 (99 tackles, 22 for loss, 2 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 12 QB hurries)
- LB/TE Michael Drennon, Jr., 6-1, 210 (90 tackles, 11 for loss, 2 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 7 QB hurries)
- DL Devon Goguen, Sr., 6-4, 190 (94 tackles, 33 for loss, 11 sacks, 17 QB pressures, 5 fumble recoveries)
- ATH Kourtland Sinches, Sr., 5-10, 165 (72 tackles, 24 for loss, 8 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 20 QB hurries)
Just the facts
- Mineola and Yoakum are both making their second trips to the state championship game and both are seeking their first title game wins.
- The Yellowjackets last were in this position in 2014. Sixteen starters from that game will start once again Thursday.
- Yoakum made a championship game appearance in 1952.
- Twin athletes Joshua and Jordan Moore of Yoakum are two of the state's most coveted recruits in the 2018 class. They're expected to play at least defensive back, receiver, running back and kick return in the state championship game.
- Mineola quarterback Jeremiah Crawford is East Texas' leading rusher. He now has 2,598 rushing yards and 41 ground scores on 230 carries.
- Running back Chantz Perkins has more than 1,000 yards despite missing time earlier this season for the Yellowjackets.
- Mineola has no losses to Class 3A Division I competition this season. Yoakum has two losses against school its own size, both in district play.
- Yoakum was 2-4 overall after its Sept. 30 game. It has not lost since.
- The Yellowjackets have not lost since Sept. 2.
- Mineola will travel 93 miles to AT&T Stadium. Yoakum has a 239-mile trip to make.
Key matchup: Mineola's defense versus Yoakum's I-formation offense.
Yoakum has an honest offense, but honest does not mean easy.
It will more often than not run the rock with senior running back Hunter Enoch and Ethan Owens. Both of those runners are more than 200 pounds, taller than six feet and mesh in perfectly with Yoakum's physical formation.
Enoch and Owens have 315 of the team's 548 rushing attempts and have combined for 1,978 rushing yards, with Enoch's 1,232 yards leading the way.
Yoakum will be looking for any weak points in the Mineola defensive front it can expose before getting fancy.
Twin athletes Joshua Moore and Jordan Moore also might get some reps in the backfield if head coach Bo Robinson and his staff feel like they aren't generating enough offense with their two primary runners. Both of the multi-purpose stars, because of their speed, average about 10 yards per carry.
The Yellowjackets can expect a bit of a passing attack as well because of the Moore twins. Yoakum averages about 10 passing attempts per game and both twins average at least 17.6 yards per reception when they're lined up at the receiver spots.
Mineola's defensive front is coming off a state semifinal game that might have been its best performance of the season, which is saying something. The defensive linemen and linebackers created 16 of the team's 19 tackles for negative yardage in a 50-8 win against Wall and also forced two fumbles before Joe Drennon turned to his backups.
Senior defensive end Devon Goguen had arguably the best performance. Five of his nine tackles were for loss.
The Yellowjackets now have 148 tackles for loss through 15 games. That's an average of nearly 10 per game.
Mineola's defense obviously would benefit from the negative yardage plays it creates, but the biggest thing the 148 previous tackles for loss suggest ahead of the state game is simply that the defense has been good at penetrating the opposing offensive line.
Breaking through the offensive line is always a key against run-oriented teams. The Yellowjackets will be in good position to make a sure tackle near the line of scrimmage if they can win the battle up front.
Don't be surprised if: Yoakum utilizes Joshua Moore and Jordan Moore to their full potentials.
This is the state championship game and there's nothing to hold back. The best athletes need to be on the field, and they need to be in positions that can affect the game.
The Moore twins generally play within the secondary on defense. Don't be surprised if Joshua Moore, a 6-foot-3 and 175-pound cornerback, comes down and plays linebacker.
Mineola won't often throw the ball if it doesn't have to. The ground game powered by quarterback Jeremiah Crawford and Chantz Perkins is almost always sufficient.
If Joshua Moore is at cornerback, he's largely a non-factor unless the Yellowjackets are in a spot where they must pass. At linebacker, he's right in the middle of the action and will be backed up from behind by Jordan Moore at the safety spot.
Kennedale did something similar to Van in the fourth round of the Class 4A Division I playoffs. It moved Ohio State outside linebacker Baron Browning to cornerback in an effort to slow down the Vandals' passing game.
Offensively, expect the Moores to initially line up at receiver and force Mineola to respect the passing game it goes to about 10 times per game. But if the Yellowjackets' defense wins up front, the two athletes might take over the running back spots in an effort to use their speed to get through the defense.
The brothers also could cause issues on special teams. Their presence, and the threat of them burning Mineola's coverage, will probably force the Yellowjackets to consider kicking short and sacrificing some field position rather than allowing those two players to beat them on one play.