New Diana Seeks to Build Upon Win Over Jefferson When Eagles Face Harleton in Longview
New Diana Eagles (1-0)
Harleton Wildcats (1-0)
7 p.m. Saturday
Lobo Stadium, Longview
- New Diana: Brett Ratliff
- Harleton: Jackie Lloyd
- New Diana: defeated Jefferson, 13-12
- Harleton: defeated West Rusk, 36-25
- New Diana: idle
- Harleton: at Alba-Golden, Sept. 13
- RB Garrett Barton, Sr., 5-11, 180 (27 carries, 170 yards; 2 catches, 37 yards, TD vs. Jefferson)
- RB K.J. Jeffrey, Sr., 5-7, 185 (9 carries, 63 yards; 2 catches, 55 yards vs. Jefferson)
- QB Jobie Ainsworth, Jr. (5-of-10, 101 yards, TD; 10 carries, 75 yards, TD vs. Jefferson)
- LB Cameron Taylor, Jr., 6-0, 190 (5.5 tackles, 1 for loss, 2 forced fumbles vs. Jefferson)
- Skylar Simpson (9.5 tackles, 5 for loss, 1 sack vs. Jefferson)
- LB Brandon Wesley, Sr., 5-11, 205 (10.5 tackles, 1 for loss vs. Jefferson)
- QB Taylor Henson, Sr., 5-11, 150 (TD pass vs. West Rusk)
- FB Gage Knox, Sr. (2 rushing TD vs. West Rusk)
- TE Jake Hamilton, Sr., 6-1, 180 (TD reception vs. West Rusk)
- LB Chase Duncan, Sr., 5-10, 175
- RB Jack Underwood, Sr., 5-9, 180
- DL Payton Alexander, Jr., 6-2, 265
Just the facts
- Despite posting a winning record (52-51) in the last 10-plus seasons, New Diana has just three playoff appearances over that span.
- New Diana and Harleton have met 15 times since 1992 with the Eagles winning 10 of those 15 matchups. New Diana’s 17-15 victory last season snapped Harleton’s four-game winning streak in the series.
- The most wins New Diana has ever achieved in a season is 12, which the Eagles accomplished in both 1972 and 1991.
- New Diana went 6-4 last season. The combined record of the teams that defeated the Eagles in 2012 — Jefferson, Hughes Springs, Paul Pewitt and Elysian Fields — was 34-15.
- Since 2002, Harleton has reached the playoffs nine times. In the 20 years prior to that, the Wildcats advanced to the postseason on just three occasions.
- The state’s fourth all-time winningest coach Dennis Alexander (now at Troup) guided Harleton to a 78-36 record from 2002-11.
- Since 1990, Harleton has competed at the Class 2A level for 17 seasons, while being a 1A member for seven-plus campaigns. Harleton won at least 10 games just once as a 2A program since ’90, but three times in 1A.
- Harleton has not won a playoff game since 2007 and has won more than two playoff games just once since 1981.
Key matchup: New Diana running game vs. Harleton defensive front. The Eagles may have only scored 13 points in last week’s season-opening win over Jefferson, but their running game had little trouble finding success. New Diana racked up 315 rushing yards, and with options like Barton and Jeffery in the backfield, it’s no secret where the Eagles’ strength lies. Ainsworth is an added dimension in the running game as well after rushing for 75 yards and a score last week.
It will be up to Alexander and the Harleton defensive front to keep New Diana’s running game from controlling the tempo. The big defensive lineman will likely draw extra attention from New Diana’s offensive line, which could open things up for other linemen or playmakers at linebacker like Henson. Harleton coach Jackie Lloyd doesn’t care who’s responsible; he just wants to get solid enough play against the run to force New Diana’s offense out of its comfort zone.
Don’t be surprised if: New Diana continues to impress after opening the year with a quality win against a good program like Jefferson. Harleton was playoff team in 1A a season ago, so it may not come easy, but last week’s performance should give New Diana loads of confidence heading into Saturday night. If the Eagles are able to establish the run, look for head coach Brett Ratliff to possibly open the playbook a little bit for Ainsworth in the passing game.