Pine Tree Pirates (3-1)

vs.

Nacogdoches Dragons (3-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Dragon Stadium, Nacogdoches

 

Coaches
  • Pine Tree: Derek Fitzhenry
  • Nacogdoches: Bobby Reyes

 

Last week
  • Pine Tree: won 51-21 at Lindale
  • Nacogdoches: won 24-21 vs. Hallsville

 

Next week:
  • Pine Tree: vs. Texas High
  • Nacogdoches: at Jacksonville

 

Playmakers

Pine Tree

  • QB Dalvin Manns, Sr., 6-0, 200 (70 of 115, 1,381 yards, 12 TDs, 2 INTs; 38 carries, 252 yards, 5 TDs)
  • WR Mason Hays, Jr., 6-0, 175 (23 catches, 628 yards, 7 TDs)
  • WR Douglas Morgan, Jr., 6-0, 180 (26 catches, 413 yards, 3 TDs)
  • DB Carlos Johnson, Sr. (39 tackles, 4 for loss, 1 recovery)
  • RB Quay Ward, Jr., 5-10, 180 (34 carries, 167 yards, 4 TDs)
  • DB Tre Devine, Sr. (19 tackles, 2 for loss, 3 INTs, 2 forced fumbles)
  • ATH Jonathan Giddings, Jr., 5-10, 190 (5 catches, 99 yards)
  • DL Edwin Paz, Sr., 6-0, 250 (24 tackles, 7 for loss, 3 sacks, 2 recoveries)
  • LB Dakota Lynn, Sr. (23 tackles, 3 INTs, 2 forced fumbles, 1 recovery)
  • OL Andrew Lee, Sr., 6-3, 280

 

Nacogdoches

  • S Brandon Jones, Soph., 6-0, 185 (36 tackles, 2 for loss, 1 INT, 1 def. TD; 2 punt return TDs)
  • C Jacob Bragg, Sr., 6-4, 311 (committed to Kansas)
  • QB Hunter McClellan, Jr., 6-1, 165 (54 of 103, 806 yards,
  • LB Brian Scott, Sr., 6-1, 215 (41 tackles, 2 for loss, 2 recoveries, 1 def. TD)
  • RB Coronado Tolbert, Jr. (86 carries, 378 yards, 1 TD)
  • WR L.J. Barnes, Sr., 5-11, 165 (20 catches, 290 yards, 5 TDs)
  • DE Jacorey Whitaker, Sr. (23 tackles, 8 for loss, 5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 10 QB pressures)
  • DE Greg Roberts, Sr., 6-5, 200 (committed to Baylor; 11 tackles, 3 for loss, 1 sack, 3 forced fumbles, 1 recovery)
  • WR Sam Morgan, Jr. (16 catches, 208 yards, 3 TDs)
  • OT Malik Gilder, Sr.

 

Just the facts
  • Pine Tree's three wins are the most the Pirates have had in a season since 2007.
  • The 2007 season was also the last time Pine Tree won at least three games in its first four contests of the season. Pine Tree started 3-0 before finishing 5-5.
  • Pine Tree's three wins match the Pirates' combined win total from the 2011-12 seasons (3-17).
  • This year marks only the second time in the last 11 seasons that Pine Tree has won more than two games.
  • Nacogdoches' three wins are the most the Dragons have won since 2010, when they finished 3-7. Nacogdoches went 1-19 during the 2011-12 seasons.
  • Nacogdoches won at least five games every season from 2005-08.
  • Nacogdoches is 23-6 against Pine Tree since 1964.
  • Pine Tree won last year's meeting 28-21.
  • Nacogdoches' last three games have each been decided by four points or fewer (28-24 win vs. Lufkin, 44-40 loss at Carthage, 24-21 win vs. Hallsville).
  • Pine Tree has scored 42 or more points in three of its first four games.
  • Pine Tree averages 41.0 points per game and allows 41.0.
  • Nacogdoches averages 31.8 points per game and allows 25.8.

 

Pine Tree QB Dalvin Manns. (Courtesy PTISD)

Key matchup: Nacogdoches front seven vs. Pine Tree quarterback Dalvin Manns. When Pine Tree senior quarterback Caleb Chumley went down with a foot injury during the preseason, plenty of Pirate fans panicked.

But classmate Dalvin Manns has posted the type of numbers Chumley produced at the end of last year. Manns enters Friday's game at Nacogdoches as one of East Texas' top offensive weapons with more than 1,600 total yards of offense and 17 total touchdowns in only four games. Mason Hays and Douglas Morgan have been Manns' key receivers, combining for 21.2 yards per catch and more than 1,000 of the yards for which Manns has passed.

Pressuring Manns will be a top priority for Nacogdoches, which boasts one of the best defensive end tandems in East Texas. Seniors Greg Roberts and Jacorey Whitaker give head coach Bobby Reyes two veteran ends that have consistently pressured quarterbacks in the Dragons' first four games of the year. Roberts, who is committed to Baylor, has forced three fumbles, while Whitaker had a huge game in last week's win against Hallsville, finishing with six tackles, four for loss, three sacks, one forced fumble, and seven quarterback pressures. One of Whitaker's pressures resulted in an interception.

Pine Tree must protect Manns and give him time to find Hays, Morgan, and the rest of the Pirates' receivers. If Nacogdoches gets pressure -- and can also contain Manns' ability to scramble with players such as veteran linebacker Brian Scott -- the Dragons will be in good shape. If not, Manns and company could post another big number on the scoreboard.

Nacogdoches C Jacob Bragg. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Don't be surprised if: The team with the better quarterback play wins the game. Yes, that may sound simple, but it can't be emphasized enough when comparing two teams that rely so much on their quarterbacks.

Manns has put up the big numbers, but Nacogdoches junior Hunter McClellan has done an excellent job so far of not turning the ball over while playing efficiently as a passer and a runner. While Nacogdoches operates from the shotgun, the Dragons will often rely on Coronado Tolbert and a big, physical offense line led by Kansas-bound center Jacob Bragg to dictate the tempo.

That could be huge in a matchup with Pine Tree, which wants as many snaps as possible for its high-powered spread offense.

Each team starts district play next week. Regardless of what happens Friday, each will be above .500 entering district, but there's no doubt that 4-1 sounds a lot better to these coaches and players than 3-2.