Class 2A Division I
State Semifinal

New Boston Lions (13-1)

vs.

Wall Hawks (14-0)

6 p.m. Saturday

Panther Stadium, Hewitt

 

Coaches
  • New Boston: Jamey Thomas
  • Wall: Houston Guy

 

Last week
  • New Boston: won 41-14 vs. Daingerfield
  • Wall: won 40-28 vs. Eastland

 

Next week
  • Winner faces White Oak (13-1) or Cameron Yoe (13-1) in the 2A D-I state championship, 5 p.m. Dec. 19, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

 

Playmakers

New Boston

  • RB Quinn Dedmon, Jr., 5-10, 165 (174 carries, 1,413 yards, 14 TDs)
  • QB Aaron Conkleton, Sr. (48 of 90, 984 yards, 17 TDs, 2 INTs; 57 carries, 227 yards, 5 TDs)
  • WR/DB Jawuan Johnson, Sr., 6-0, 190 (committed to Northern Illinois; 24 catches, 460 yards, 9 TDs)
  • ATH Jeff Gladney, Jr., 5-10, 180 (20 catches, 559 yards, 9 TDs)
  • RB Keith Baldwin (112 carries, 668 yards, 13 TDs)
  • OL/DL Wesley Holmes, Sr., 6-3, 280
  • RB/DB T.Q. Dedmon, Jr. (27 carries, 170 yards, 4 TDs)
  • DE/LB Dedric Draggoo, Jr.

 

Wall

  • QB Luke Dacy (237 carries, 1,897 yards, 38 TDs; 28 of 51, 783 yards, 11 TDs, 3 INTs)
  • ATH Kris Gutierrez (68 carries, 1,244 yards, 12 TDs; 10 catches, 325 yards, 5 TDs)
  • RB Brent Matschek (74 carries, 994 yards, 10 TDs; 5 catches, 125 yards, 2 TDs)
  • RB Clint Masters (132 carries, 922 yards, 10 TDs)
  • WR Tre Chitsey (7 catches, 237 yards, 3 TDs)
  • ATH Ethan Hodges (29 carries 209 yards, 2 TDs)
  • RB Kelton Niehues (34 carries, 197 yards, 3 TDs)

 

Just the facts
  • New Boston is in its first state semifinal in school history.
  • Wall lost 29-22 to Daingerfield in last year's 2A D-I state semifinals.
  • First-year New Boston head coach Jamey Thomas replaced Rick Barker as the head coach in the offseason. Thomas, who was previously offensive coordinator, has also been head coach at Simms Bowie and Maud.
  • Thomas started his coaching career at New Boston 21 years ago, according to the Texarkana Gazette.
  • New Boston averages 362.7 total yards per game: 283.6 rushing, 79.1 passing.
  • Wall averages 462.6 total yards per game: 405.9 rushing, 55.9 passing.
  • New Boston averages 36.6 points per game and allows 16.3.
  • Wall averages 45.5 points per game and allows 12.9.
  • New Boston has averaged 37.5 points per game and allowed 21.8 during the playoffs.
  • Wall has averaged 39.8 points per game and allowed 18.5 during the postseason.
  • New Boston has allowed more than 28 points twice in 14 games. The Lions have held 10 opponents to fewer than 20 points.
  • Wall has not allowed more than 28 points in a game this season. The Hawks have yielded more than 18 only twice.
  • New Boston, which avenged its only loss (40-16 on Oct. 4 at Daingerfield) in last week's 41-14 rout of Daingerfield, has won three games by single digits, including two playoff contests (14-7 second-round win vs. Whitesboro, 34-27 third-round win vs. Malakoff).
  • Wall has won every game by double digits. Last week's 40-28 win vs. Eastland is the Hawks' closest game to date.

 

Key matchup: Wall's running game vs. New Boston's defense. When we say that Wall prefers to run the ball, we really mean it.

Wall averages 44.5 rushing attempts and 3.6 passes per game, so the Hawks' staggering rushing statistics are no surprise. The option-centric attack has produced 11 games this year with at least 40 points, and six games of at least 48 points. That tells you just how dynamic the Hawks can be on the ground.

Quarterback Luke Dacy is the trigger man. He enters this Class 2A Division I state semifinal with almost 1,900 yards and 135.5 rushing yards per game. Dacy's 38 rushing touchdowns are almost half of Wall's 77.

Kris Gutierrez, Brent Matschek, and Clint Masters give head coach Houston Guy three more players with at least 900 rushing yards. That trio has combined for 3,160 yards on the ground. In other words, there's a lot more to worry about than simply Dacy.

New Boston counters with a defense that held Daingerfield to negative yardage (-9) in last week's eye-opening 41-14 victory. After yielding six touchdown passes to the Tigers in a 40-16 Oct. 4 road loss, New Boston completely shut down Daingerfield in the 2A D-I Region II final, surrendering 0 points on defense. Both of the Tigers' touchdowns came on first-quarter Keynon Whetstone kickoff returns.

New Boston's Aaron Conkleton (5) scrambles away from Pleasant Grove defenders during the Lions' 37-7 win at Hawk Stadium in Texarkana on Sept. 6. (Evan Lewis, ETSN.fm)

Head coach Jamey Thomas needs another big performance from his defense to get the Lions to their first state championship game.

Don't be surprised if: New Boston tries to use its offense as its best defense. There's no doubt that New Boston possesses one of the best defenses in 2A D-I. The Lions proved that last week against Daingerfield.

But there's also no reason to put the entire game squarely on your defense's shoulders when you have a rushing attack as effective as Thomas possesses. While Wall's ground game may boast bigger numbers, New Boston's is almost as effective. The Lions average more than 280 rushing yards per game and have several capable backs led by Quinn Dedmon, who enters this state semifinal showdown averaging 100.9 yards per game.

Dedmon had 130 yards and Keith Baldwin added 100 in last week's history-making win, which sent the Lions to their first-ever state semifinal.

With teams that are similar in play selection and have gotten strong defensive play all season, don't be surprised if turnovers play a huge role. These teams appear to be pretty evenly matched. Wall's undefeated record definitely stands out, but New Boston has played a difficult postseason schedule to get to this point.

In a game like this, an old high school football proverb, so to speak, could determine the outcome: the team that makes fewer mistakes should win.

New Boston's Quinn Dedmon runs the ball Saturday the Lions' 41-14 state quarterfinal win vs. Daingerfield in Mount Pleasant. (Evan Lewis, ETSN.fm)