No. 7 Gladewater Lighting Up Defenses on the Ground + Through the Air
[By Stephen Amason, Special to ETSN.fm]
You could call beating the defending Class 4A Division II state champs the biggest win of the season, and let that be your “Super Bowl”.
However, for the Gladewater, it was just another step in the right direction. The Bears have been a tough bunch for other teams to deal with so far this season.
Currently, they’re ranked No. 7 in the Associated Press Class 3A poll with a record of 5-0 (1-0 in District 8-3A Division I). Three of their first five games were against 4A schools.
An impressive start to say the least but, there’s still work to be done.
“I wasn’t really expecting to be 5-0 as far as results are concerned at this point,” said Gladewater coach John Berry. “But we’re about on track with where I was hoping we could be playing wise with district games here.”
One of the biggest games so far season was against defending champ Pleasant Grove two weeks ago on the road. Gladewater won the game, 44-37, with a fumble recovery for a touchdown with just seconds to go in the game.
That was a big win but, more importantly, a test to see how well the Bears could match up with other strong teams.
“The biggest thing was being able to physically match up with them,” Berry said. “Our style of playing is very similar and it’s supposed to be a good football game whenever we match up. Normally at this point in the season we would have already been tested by playing Carthage or Kilgore. We were pleased that we were able to get out there and match up with them as much as we were with the result.”
One of the things that makes Gladewater so good is sophomore running back Eligia Carter. He leads the area in rushing with 1,162 yards.
Gladewater, known for having great running backs, leans on Carter being the tailback it needs to be successful.
“Our tailback has to be a guy we get a home run out of when we get it blocked right,” Berry said. “We need a guy that can put it in the end zone.”
Carter has the ability to be that running back, a guy that can get through the defensive line, into the secondary for big gains, and score.
The Bears are not just running the ball, either. They also can make plays and score points through the air.
There’s been great chemistry between sophomore quarterback Tristan Holmes and wide receiver TC Minter. They seem to have had a “big-plays only” connection in the passing game.
Holmes has thrown for 633 yards and eight touchdowns, while Minter has 348 yards receiving and five touchdowns.
“It’s the other component to us,” Berry said. “If we weren't capable of hurting you with throwing the football then there wouldn’t be any defensive backs in the game, they’d all be down there looking at Eli. It's very difficult to do that to us now because of how well Tristan has played and TC making big plays for us.”
For a matchup featuring great offense vs. fantastic defensive play, look no further than Gladewater’s next game this Friday night when it takes on No. 4 West Rusk (5-0, 1-0).
“West Rusk is a really good team, very good,” Berry said. “They’re right there on par with some of these teams we’ve played already. We will have to have the same type of effort that we had at Pleasant Grove, Atlanta, and Center if we’re going to have a chance to win.
“These games count and we need to get a few wins to in order to qualify for the playoffs, that's what West Rusk means to us right now: one more opportunity for us to qualify for the playoffs.”