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New Marshall Regime Faces State-Ranked Kilgore in 2013 Season Opener

Kilgore’s Benny Colbert tightropes the sideline during the Bulldogs’ 42-7 first-round playoff win against Athens in Whitehouse last November. (ETSN.fm)

No. 6 Kilgore Bulldogs

vs.

Marshall Mavericks

7:30 p.m. Friday

Maverick Stadium, Marshall

 

Coaches
  • Kilgore: Mike Wood
  • Marshall: Clint Harper

 

Last season
  • Kilgore 42, Marshall 0 (season opener at Kilgore’s R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium)

 

Playmakers

Kilgore

  • ATH Benny Colbert, Sr., 5-10, 170
  • DL LaDarrin Anthony, Sr., 6-0, 257
  • OL Clay Wiley, Sr., 6-2, 285
  • WR/DB Aaron Foy, Sr., 5-11, 165
  • DL D.Q. Scott, Sr., 6-0, 252
  • S Jake Brantley, Sr., 5-10, 185
  • RB/LB Kevrin Justice, Jr., 5-11, 170
  • OL Blake Guthrie, Jr., 6-2, 251
  • LB Kris Haynes, Jr.
  • WR/DB Joseph Shepherd, Sr.
  • RB/DB Davieonta “JuJu” Brown, Sr.

 

Marshall

  • WR Marek Reyes, Sr., 5-8, 155
  • ATH Jaque Kuykendall, Sr., 5-9, 160
  • OL Katrail Flanagan, Sr., 6-3, 270
  • ATH John Love, Jr., 5-11, 175
  • DB Tacory Robinson, Jr., 6-2, 180
  • FS Dontavious Boyd, Sr., 6-2, 180
  • RB Deondre Osbourne, Soph., 5-10, 170
  • LB Kevin Moorehead, Jr., 5-11, 185
  • QB Justin Hart, Soph.

 

Just the facts
  • Marshall holds an 18-13-1 advantage on Kilgore since 1951.
  • Kilgore has beaten Marshall two years in a row after the Mavericks beat the Bulldogs four times in five meetings from 2008-10.
  • Marshall beat Kilgore 28-18 in the 2008 regular season, but the ‘Dogs won 31-28 in a first-round playoff meeting. Then Marshall won 41-14 in non-district and 44-7 in a first-round matchup in 2009 before beating Kilgore 24-14 in 2010 non-district.
  • In 2004, Kilgore beat Marshall 28-27 in District 17-4A play en route to a 16-0 Class 4A Division II state championship. That Marshall team finished 11-4 and lost 23-21 to Ennis in the Class 4A Division I state championship.
  • After a 3-7 campaign in 2010, Kilgore head coach Mike Wood has increased the Bulldogs’ win total each of the last two seasons (9-5, 11-2) for a 23-10 mark in his first three years at the helm.
  • Kilgore held nine regular-season opponents in 2012 to 7.4 points per game.
  • New Marshall head coach Clint Harper comes to the Mavericks after serving as Class 5A Leander’s head coach the last two seasons, compiling a 19-6 record in those two campaigns.
  • Harper is a graduate of Marshall, where he played quarterback.
  • The 2011-12 seasons marked the worst two-year span in the modern era for Marshall. The Mavericks last won only three games in two seasons in 1957-58.

 

Key matchup: Marshall’s defense vs. Kilgore’s running game. Marshall is a few years removed from the teams that boasted playmaking linebackers like Jamal Kelly, Anthony Davenport, and Oklahoma signee Aaron Franklin.

Kilgore RB Kevrin Justice. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Those are the types of defenders the Mavericks will need Friday when they host the Kilgore Bulldogs, a team that can physically overwhelm opponents with a relentless running game. Leading rusher Austin Jordan, who ran for 1,000 yards on the nose in 2012, has graduated, but the Bulldogs are very excited about returning tailbacks Kevrin Justice, a junior, and JuJu Brown, a senior. That duo combined for 1,322 yards and 16 touchdowns last season and is expected to have a huge 2013 campaign.

Clay Wiley, a 6-foot-2, 285-pound mauler, anchors an impressive Kilgore offensive line, which should have the advantage against a relatively inexperienced Marshall defensive front. Marshall will need a big game from junior linebacker Kevin Moorehead and senior safety Dontavious Boyd to try to contain the Bulldog ground attack.

Marshall head coach Clint Harper. (Courtesy Marshall ISD)

Don’t be surprised if: Kilgore’s size and physicality wear down the Maverick defense. If that’s the case, Marshall shouldn’t be too discouraged, for multiple reasons. First, an experienced Kilgore team is ranked sixth by the Associated Press in the preseason Class 3A poll. Second, Kilgore will wear a lot of teams down this season with the Bulldogs’ trademark demoralizing running game. Third, Marshall will be in the first game under a new regime and a new defense, which will likely come with a three-man front.

There’s no doubt that new Marshall head coach Clint Harper brings a wealth of experience and winning after a 19-6 record during the last two seasons at Leander. Pulling off a season-opening upset of a heavily favored Kilgore team in his first game at the helm is a heck of a lot to ask.

Marshall has brighter days ahead, but for now, expect Kilgore to come away with another convincing victory against the Mavericks. If Marshall finds a way to give Kilgore all the ‘Dogs can handle, then District 14-4A opponents who face the Mavs later in the schedule better to take notice.

 

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