Palestine Wildcats (3-0)

vs.

Chapel Hill Bulldogs (1-2)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Bulldog Stadium, New Chapel Hill

 

Coaches
  • Palestine: Lance Angel
  • Chapel Hill: Thomas Sitton

 

Last week
  • Palestine: won 34-28 vs. Kaufman
  • Chapel Hill: lost 52-22 at Carthage

 

Next week
  • Palestine: at Athens
  • Chapel Hill: at Henderson

 

Playmakers

Palestine

  • RB/DL/LB Jarrell Owens, Sr., 6-3, 245 (committed to TCU; 11 carries, 80 yards, 1 TD; 9 catches, 134 yards, 1 TD; 11 tackles, 2 for loss, 2 forced fumbles)
  • OL Brian Thlang, Sr., 6-2, 285 (committed to ULM)
  • QB Fabian "Gee" Clark, Jr., 6-0, 165 (34-of-55, 621 yards, 6 TD, 3 INT; 20 carries, 143 yards, 3 TD)
  • RB Ben Luckett, Sr., 6-0, 195 (72 carries, 519 yards, 5 TD; 3 catches, 60 yards)
  • WR/DB Sheldon Watson, Sr., 6-2, 185 (6 catches, 159 yards, 4 TD; 18 tackles, 2 for loss, 2 pass break-ups)
  • WR/LB Chris Weaver, Jr., 5-9, 175 (4 catches, 135 yards, 1 TD; 25 tackles, 7 for loss, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 1 pass break-up)
  • LB Brian Gummelt, Sr., 5-9, 175 (33 tackles, 9 for loss, 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble)
  • LB Isaiah Mitchell, Sr. (25 tackles, 8 for loss, 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 1 pass break-up)

 

Chapel Hill

  • RB/LB Joseph Clark, Sr., 5-9, 180 (committed to Texas Tech; 27 carries, 254 yards, 3 TD; 4 catches, 38 yards, 1 TD)
  • RB/LB Wesley Thompson, Sr., 6-1, 185 (31 carries, 296 yards, 2 TD)
  • HB Reggie King, Soph., 5-10, 175 (12 catches, 74 yards, TD)
  • QB Andrew Black, Sr., 6-1, 180 (49-of-94, 452 yards, 4 TD, 7 INT; 26 carries, 134 yards, 3 TD)
  • OL/DL Keith Minor, Sr., 6-3, 237
  • OL/DL Shaq Warren, Sr., 6-2, 250
  • DL Kevone Kennedy, Sr., 6-2, 225
  • WR Lex Heckel, Sr. (8 catches, 91 yards, 1 TD)

 

Just the facts
  • Palestine and Chapel Hill have met 27 times in a series that dates back to 1972. The Bulldogs hold a 14-12-1 advantage, having defeated Palestine on four straight occasions.
  • The Wildcats are averaging 38.7 points and 466.7 yards per game in 2013.
  • Since dropping from Class 4A prior to the 2004 season, Palestine has compiled a record of 60-43. In the nine previous seasons in 4A, the Wildcats were just 39-54.
  • Palestine has gone six seasons without recording a playoff victory. It's last postseason was a 40-20 win over Diboll in the bi-district round of the 2006 playoffs.
  • Chapel Hill snapped its three-game losing streak to begin the 2012 season with a 34-14 win at Palestine.
  • The Bulldogs lost seven games last season. The combined record of those seven opponents -- Lindale, Whitehouse, Carthage, Henderson, Gilmer, Kilgore and Bullard -- was 64-25.
  • This is the fourth straight week in which Chapel Hill will be facing an undefeated opponent.
  • Chapel Hill is averaging 37.3 points and 471 yards per game. The Bulldogs have run 212 plays from scrimmage and are averaging 6.7 yards per snap.

 

Palestine OL Brian Thlang. (© Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Palestine offensive line vs. Chapel Hill defensive line. It's stated by almost every coach across the country, but games really are won in the battle up front. The adage is especially true this week as Palestine's big and physical offensive line lines up against a powerful and athletic front four for Chapel Hill. ULM commit Brian Thlang and Eric Gonzales (6-0, 295) are responsible for the protection afforded to quarterback Fabian "Gee" Clark and the running lines opening up for running back Ben Luckett. Clark has had a strong start to the season, completing 61.8 percent of his passes to a deep and talented group of pass-catches for Palestine. Luckett is also among the East Texas rushing leaders after a solid first three games, and everything starts up front with the big guys up front. If allowed, Palestine's skill players can make Friday nights a living nightmare for defensive coordinators. The key is getting a solid penetration against the offensive line.

Chapel Hill OL/DL Keith Minor. (© Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Chapel Hill certainly has the personnel up front to handle it. Seniors Shaq Warren, Kevone Kennedy and Keith Minor all played well in the second half against Whitehouse, almost igniting a 35-point comeback. The defensive line did not have as big an impact last week against Carthage's big linemen, and the Bulldogs are likely to face a similar test against Palestine on Friday night. If Chapel Hill can apply steady pressure to Clark in obvious passing situations and its D-line can funnel running plays to its playmaking duo of Joseph Clark and Wesley Thompson at linebacker, the Bulldogs figure to provide Palestine's offense with its biggest challenge of the season to date.

Palestine QB Fabian "Gee" Clark. (© Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Don't be surprised if: The game is not decided until the fourth quarter. Palestine and Chapel Hill are almost mirror images of one another in regards to skill-set. Each team has a lethal combination of size and speed at multiple positions, so it appears the difference in the game will come down to which team commits the fewest mistakes. Turnovers have been an issue for Chapel Hill in its two losses this season. The Bulldogs had three costly first-half turnovers against Whitehouse two weeks ago, and committed five turnovers in the 30-point loss to Carthage last week. Chapel Hill's uptempo offense has had little trouble in moving the ball, but has put its defense is tough situations by giving the ball away.