Class 2A Division I Region III
Semifinal

Newton Eagles (12-0)

vs.

White Oak Roughnecks (11-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday

John Outlaw Memorial Field at Abe Martin Stadium, Lufkin

 

Coaches
  • Newton: W.T. Johnston
  • White Oak: Gerry Stanford

 

Last week

 

Next week
  • Winner faces Godley (9-3) or Franklin (12-0) in the 2A D-I Region III championship.

 

Playmakers

Newton

  • RB Brandon Johnson, Sr., 5-10, 185 (135 carries, 1,615 yards, 23 TDs)
  • DE/LB Anthony Hadnot, Sr., 5-9, 223 (160 tackles, 1 sack, 3 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries, 1 punt block)
  • QB/DB Roney Elam, Jr., 6-2, 167 (40 of 80, 939 yards, 11 TDs, 6 INTs; 67 carries, 437 yards, 5 TDs; 23 tackles, 5 INTs, 1 forced fumble)
  • RB/DB Calum Foster, Jr., 6-0, 158 (70 carries, 690 yards, 12 TDs; 76 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 INT)
  • DE Troy Peagues, Sr. (59 tackles, 10 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries)
  • LB Chedrick Hanks, Sr., 6-1, 205 (82 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 1 punt block)
  • DB Carlton Myers, Sr. (63 tackles, 4 INTs, 1 fumble recovery)
  • RB/DB Gabe Foster, Soph. (42 carries, 411 yards, 8 TDs; 1 INT)
  • WR/DB Jace Thomas, Jr. (30 carries, 295 yards, 2 TDs; 6 catches, 271 yards, 4 TDs)
  • OL Tyler Gibson, Sr., 6-0, 240
  • OL Brent Simmons, Jr., 6-3, 275

 

White Oak

  • QB Dylan Gale, Sr., 5-8, 165 (171 of 287, 2,939 yards, 29 TDs, 2 INTs; 6 rush TDs)
  • RB/LB Riley Lakin, Sr. (212 carries, 1,340 yards, 20 TDs; 2 receiving TDs)
  • WR Jansen McCurdy, Sr., 6-0, 165 (46 catches, 1,266 yards, 17 TDs)
  • S Jake Pullen, Jr.
  • WR Gabe Michael, Sr., 6-1, 175 (45 catches, 658 yards, 6 TDs)
  • WR/DE Hayden Nichols, Sr., 6-3, 215 (21 catches, 364 yards, 4 TDs)
  • WR Cass Carr, Sr. (38 catches, 443 yards, 1 TD)
  • WR Josh Benson, Sr. (14 catches, 239 yards, 1 TD)
  • OL/DL Jason Heim, Sr., 6-1, 260
  • DT Dee Sutton, Sr., 5-11, 260

 

Just the facts
  • Newton is in the third round for the second year in a row. The Eagles beat Grandview 82-35 in last year's regional semifinal round.
  • White Oak has won at least 11 games for the first time since 1971, when the Roughnecks finished 12-1, which also marked the last time they reached double-digit wins.
  • Newton averages 46.8 points per game and allows 12.3.
  • White Oak averages 41.0 points per game and allows 12.0.
  • Newton averages 451.3 total yards per game: 371.9 rushing, 79.4 passing.
  • White Oak averages 404. total yards per game: 254.6 passing, 149.8 rushing.
  • Newton tailback Brandon Johnson has run 2,864 yards and 40 touchdowns in the Eagles' last 26 contests dating to last year. That's an average of 110.2 rushing yards per game since the start of his junior year.
  • As a senior, Johnson averages 134.6 rushing yards per game.
  • Since the start of the 2012 season, White Oak receiver Jansen McCurdy has caught 95 passes for 2,534 yards and 35 touchdowns. That's an average of 26.7 yards per catch during White Oak's last 24 games.
  • Newton has scored at least 62 points four times in its first 12 contests.
  • White Oak has scored at least 55 points three times in its first 12 games.
  • Newton has held six of its first 12 opponents to single digits, including three shutouts.
  • White Oak has held six of its first 12 opponents to single digits, including one shutout.
  • Only one team has scored more than 20 points against White Oak, which has held 10 of 12 foes to 14 or fewer points.

 

White Oak QB Dylan Gale. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: White Oak's front seven vs. Newton's running game. Newton has made a living running the ball for a long, long time, and the 2013 season has featured more of the same from the Eagles' high-powered ground attack.

Newton enters Friday night's big matchup in Lufkin averaging 371.9 rushing yards per game. That rushing average accounts for 82.4 percent of the Eagles' total yards per game.

Newton lost all-everything tailback Kevin Shorter, who is committed to Texas, to head and neck injuries in October, but the Eagles have gotten big performances from the rest of their fleet of running backs to help pick up the slack. The latest came from sophomore Gabe Foster, who ran for 151 yards and four touchdowns on only 10 carries in last week's 53-point demolition of Whitney.

Senior Brandon Johnson has of course been the Eagles' biggest contributor in Shorter's absence. A 1,000-yard rusher as a junior, Johnson continues to climb the East Texas rushing rankings with more than 1,600 yards and 23 touchdowns. He averages 12.0 yards per carry and joins junior Calum Foster as head coach W.T. Johnston's most consistently dangerous ball-carrying options with Shorter out for the season.

Newton LB Anthony Hadnot. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

White Oak shut down Grandview a week ago. The Zebras entered the game averaging more than 54 points per game and boasted a 2,700-yard passer and 1,900-yard rusher. In other words, head coach Gerry Stanford's defensive unit has proven it can stifle a balanced spread attack. The question now is if the Roughnecks can withstand the will-killing relentlessness of Newton's potent rushing attack.

Don't be surprised if: The team that dictates tempo wins and clinches a berth in the 2A D-I Region III championship round.

White Oak's spread offense will prefer to pick up the pace. After all, it's worked for the Roughnecks all season. Dylan Gale is having one of the best seasons among all quarterbacks in East Texas. A deep group of receivers certainly has helped that. And Riley Lakin has replaced Hunter Owens, the Roughnecks' two-way stalwart a year ago, to rank among the region's top 20 rushers with more than 1,300 yards entering Friday's game.

On the other sideline is a Newton team that will run, run, run, run, and run some more. White Oak's stingy defense, which is often overshadowed by the Roughnecks' playmaking offense, has been one of the best in East Texas this year. That unit faces one of its stiffest tests to date.

That's what we said last week, right before the Roughnecks stymied Grandview's explosive offense. Can the Roughnecks pull off a similar feat again this week? Or will Newton continue its quest for a second consecutive Region III title?

White Oak''s Riley Laking (3) tries to shed a tackle during the Roughnecks' 38-6 Nov. 8 home win against Jefferson. (ETSN.fm)