Nacogdoches Dragons (4-0, 1-0)

Vs.

Ennis Lions (2-2, 1-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Lion Memorial Stadium, Ennis

 

Coaches
  • Nacogdoches: Bobby Reyes
  • Ennis: Jack Alvarez

 

Last week

 

Next week
  • Nacogdoches: vs. Corsicana, Oct. 10
  • Ennis: at Whitehouse, Oct. 10

 

Playmakers

Nacogdoches

  • K Rudy Fuentes, Sr. (3 game winning kicks)
  • S Jaylon Lane, Sr., 6-2, 180 (East Texas’ Class of 2015 scholarship leader with 38 offers; 18 tackles, 2 PBU, 1 INT)
  • S Corey Lane, Jr., 5-11, 185 (30 tackles)
  • QB Hunter McClellan, Sr., 6-2, 175 (167 of 122, 10 passing TDs, 1 INTs, 1,056 passing yards, 25 carries, 110 rushing yards)
  • WR Ken Rogers, Sr., 5-11, 167 (16 catches, 331 yards, 4 TDs)
  • WR Tae Thomas, Sr., 5-7, 160 (16 catches, 238 yards, 2 TDs)
  • RB Coronado Tolbert, Sr. (122 carries, 783 yards, 4 TDs)

 

Ennis

  • RB Tre Elliot, Jr., 5-11, 205 (49 carries, 252 yards, 3 TDs, 25 carries, 79 yards)
  • DE James Lockhart, Sr., 6-4, 253 (committed to Texas A&M)
  • QB Devin Smith, Sr., 5-11, 155 (35 of 49, 660 yards, 6 TDs, 1 INT)
  • RB Taylor Thompson, Sr., 5-9, 160 (51 carries, 290 yards, 6  rushing TDs, 11 receptions, 231 receiving yards, 2 receiving TDs)

 

Just the facts
  • The winner of Friday's District 16-5A game will hold at least of share of first place.
  • Nacogdoches enters the game undefeated. Ennis is 2-2 overall, but the Lions played very tough Mansfield Timberview and Denton Guyer teams in non-district. What Ennis lost in its win total, it gained in experience against top-tier teams.
  • Neither team is ranked by the Associated Press as a top 10 Class 5A team. However, Ennis received enough votes to be considered the 15th best team in the classification and Nacogdoches ranks 16th with one less vote.
  •  The Dragons are halfway through their first rough stretch in the league. Taking down Lufkin was a major accomplishment. After Ennis, Nacogdoches will face Corsicana and Lindale in back-to-back weeks. The latter two teams have the worst overall records in the district.
  • Ennis has outscored opponents 133-110. Nacogdoches has won its games by a 136-110 margin.
  • If the game comes down to a field goal, the Dragons should be in good shape. Rudy Fuentes already has three late, game-winning kicks under his belt.
  • Needless to say, Nacogdoches has its share of close game experiences. It defeated Kilgore and Hallsville by a combined two points and edged Lufkin by three points last week.
  • Ennis' two losses came by by 13 combined points.
  • There's major college potential in this game. Nacogdoches defensive back Jaylon Lane holds 38 FBS offers and is committed to Oklahoma State. Ennis defensive end James Lockhart has 24 FBS offers and is committed to Texas A&M.
  • Ennis has been one of the Metroplex's best teams since the turn of the century. It won state championships in 2001 and 2004 -- defeating Marshall in the 2004 title game -- and reached the Class 4A Division II state semifinal game last season.
  • Ennis needs this game. It will face Whitehouse, No. 5 John Tyler and No. 9 Lufkin in straight weeks after Nacogdoches.

 

Running back Coronado Tolbert is a difficult back to bring down. He should have an impact in Friday's game. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Nacogdoches offense versus Ennis defense. Quarterback Hunter McClellan and Coronado Tolbert gashed Lufkin with an option look out of multiple formations with a good offensive line leading the push. McClellan, a star in the classroom, does not make many errors in his decisions to pitch or keep the ball. When Nacogdoches made the assigned defender miss, they were able to pick up big chunks of yardage before defenders crashing down or sideways caught them.

Look out when Tolbert has the ball. He's a bowling ball type back who ensures positive yardage with a nice combination of power and size.

McClellan is one of the top passers in East Texas with 1,056 yards and 10 touchdowns to one interception in a balanced offense. Receiver Ken Rogers is a multi-faceted receiver with 331 yards and four touchdowns to his name through four games. Sam Morgan, Tae Thomas, De'couris Williams and Bryce Matthews are possession players who should be able to consistently extend drives against Ennis on intermediate routes.

Ennis had its way with Longview in a preseason scrimmage at Lion Memorial Stadium on Aug. 22. (Jeff Stapleton, ETSN.fm)

But Ennis should be able to test the Dragons' offense in different ways than Lufkin. For starters, James Lockhart makes a case as one of the state's best defensive ends. He's a nice mix of Division I size and speed and, and he could make the Nacogdoches coaching staff second guess what they'll be able to get out of a run to his side.

Additionally, Ennis is fast. It's a program that has historically been undersized but very disciplined, decisive and quick.

When the Lions are on offense, Nacogdoches should have a moderate size advantage at the skill positions with Jaylon Lane and Corey Lane at the safety spots. However, the Lions are a tricky team with multiple ways to confuse a defense out of a predominantly spread look.

Don't be surprised if: Nacogdoches has to find a different way to win Friday's game. The Dragons got some great breaks in the Lufkin game. They can't count on them every week. Playing on the road at a top Metroplex team's place is not going to be an easy task.

Nacogdoches will have to start fast and play even stronger defensively than it did last week to get out of Ennis still undefeated.

Nacogdoches quarterback Hunter McClellan. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)