DISTRICT 7-4A Division I

No. 10 Liberty-Eylau Leopards (5-1, 1-0)

vs.

Pittsburg Pirates (6-0, 1-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Pirate Stadium, Pittsburg

Coaches
  • Liberty-Eylau: Steve Wells
  • Pittsburg: Brad Baca
Last week
Next week
  • Liberty-Eylau: vs. Quinlan Ford, Oct. 23
  • Pittsburg: at Paris, Oct. 23

Playmakers

Liberty-Eylau

 

  • ATH Ke’Mon Freeman, Sr., 6-0, 205 (98-166, 1,827 yards, 13 TDs, 1 INT, 92 carries, 682 yards 12 TDs)
  • DL Lagaryonn Carson, Jr., 6-5, 255 (9 FBS offers)
  • DB Andre Wiley Jr., Sr., 5-10, 180 (6 FBS offers)
  • WR/DB Thurman Morbley, Sr., 6-0, 166 (29 catches, 682 yards, 7 TDs)
  • WR Garyco Witcher, Sr., (24 catches, 405 yards, 2 TDs)
  • RB/LB Lamont Byrd, Sr., 5-9, 180 (85 carries, 591 yards, 11 TDs)
  • LB Demarcus Pegue II, Sr., 5-10, 217
  • OL Franklin Smith II, Jr., 6-4, 279

 

Pittsburg

 

  • RB/LB Fre’Zarian Harrison, Sr., 6-0, 220 (78 tackles, 23 for loss, 5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries)
  • QB Brian Baca, Sr., 5-10, 181 (58-98, 1,046 yards, 9 TDs, 2 INTs, 44 carries, 329 yards, 10 TDs)
  • WR Damien Porter, Sr., 5-10, 145 (24 catches, 472 yards, 5 TDs)
  • OL/DL Nathan Capers, Sr., 6-4, 250
  • RB/DB Tray Walker, Sr., 5-5, 156 (115 carries, 864 yards, 9 TDs)
  • WR/DL Quinton Edney, Sr. (27 tackles, 9 for loss, 3 fumble recoveries)

 

Just the facts
  • Liberty-Eylau will enter Friday's game ranked 10th in the Associated Press' Class 4A poll.
  • Pittsburg received enough votes to be considered the 13th-ranked team in the poll.
  • The Pirates program really has seemed to benefit from the Baca family. Head coach Brad Baca, defensive coordinator Eddy Baca (father) and senior quarterback Brian Baca (little brother) have helped the team to a 6-0 record in their first years.
  • Pittsburg was 2-4 this time last season.
  • Liberty-Eylau is one of the smallest schools in Class 4A Division I, but it is on the brink of producing an excellent signing class.
  • Senior defensive back Andre Wiley Jr. holds six FBS offers and quarterback Ke'Mon Freeman has been targeted by three schools as an athlete. Senior receiver Thurman Morbley, running back Lamont Byrd and linebacker Demarcus Pegue II also are playing with realistic scholarship aspirations.
  • Furthermore, junior defensive tackle Lagaryonn Carson owns offers from Alabama, Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M among others.
  • Pittsburg linebacker Fre'Zarian Harrison leads East Texas defenders with 23 tackles for loss. He also has 78 tackles, five sacks and three forced fumbles. He's in the top one percent among all those categories within the region regardless of classification.
  • Liberty-Eylau limped into last year's game against Pittsburg with a 1-5 record. The team pulled off a 28-20 home win and did not lose again until the Class 4A Division I, Region II championship game. It lost to Argyle by three points which in turn lost the state championship game in double overtime two weeks later.
  • The loss to the Liberty-Eylau set the Pirates back in District 7-4A Division I competition, but they managed to make the playoffs at the district's fourth seed and bowed out to Athens in the opening round.
  • Pittsburg has not beaten Liberty-Eylau since 2009, losing the next three meetings over five seasons. The Pirates reached the state semifinals that year.
  • The two teams share one common non-district opponent, Atlanta.
  • Pittsburg defeated Atlanta in Week 4, 40-14, on the road.
  • The Leopards edged Atlanta the following week, 44-43, at home.
Liberty-Eylau QB Ke'Mon Freeman is one of two full-time quarterbacks with more than 100 rushing yards per game in addition to more than 1,000 passing yards. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Liberty-Eylau quarterback Ke'Mon Freeman versus Pittsburg linebacker Fre'Zarian Harrison.

No defense has stopped the Leopards offense completely -- state power Gilmer held on for a 50-45 win in Week 1 -- and it doesn't look great for the Pirates either with players around Freeman in the midst of strong personal seasons. Receiver Thurman Morbley averages 113 yards per game, running back Lamont Byrd is just a tad shy of 100 yards per game and receiver Garyco Witcher averages 70 yards per game.

Freeman himself is throwing for more than 300 yards per game and running for more than 100 yards.

If Pittsburg can't disrupt Liberty-Eylau's offense, the Pirates are sitting ducks.

Pittsburg defensive end Quinton Edney has nine tackles for loss through six games. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

But there is reason to believe Pittsburg could be the team to give the Leopards their toughest battle in five games. Defensive coordinator Eddy Baca's unit has recorded two shutouts and has only allowed an opponent more than 30 points once.

All that with backing from a more than adequate offense.

The Pirates' defense has combined for 96 plays of lost yardage and 14 takeaways in just six games.

Linebacker Fre'Zarian Harrison will be the key defender Friday. He has 78 tackles, including a region-best 23 tackles for loss. He has not had much trouble penetrating the opposition's backfield this season. That's not the best news for a Leopards offense running predominantly through Freeman in all facets.

Don't be surprised if: Liberty-Eylau does not hit on as many big plays as it is accustomed to. At the same time, the Leopards should be able to gain traction with running back Lamont Byrd in a worst-case scenario. But, if Pittsburg can knock Ke'Mon Freeman out of his element with pressure, the Pirates will have opportunities to win latter downs and give the ball back to a Pirates offense that has helped the team win each of its first six games by two or more possessions. The two teams match up very well against each other.

When Pittsburg has the ball, it will have to go up against junior defensive end Lagaryonn Carson. He already has major offers from the Big 12 and SEC. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)