Pittsburg Pirates (0-1)

vs.

Gladewater Bears (1-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday
Jack V. Murphy Bear Stadium, Gladewater

Coaches

  • Pittsburg: Dickey Meeks
  • Gladewater: John Berry

 

Last week

 

Next week

  • Pittsburg: at New Boston, Sept. 12
  • Gladewater: vs. Lafayette (La.) St. Thomas More (at Shreveport), Sept. 12

 

Playmakers

Pittsburg

  • RB/LB Fre'zarian Harrison, Jr., 6-0, 220
  • LB Sir Charles Perkins, Sr., 5-8, 170 (110 rushing yards)
  • RB Tray Walker, Jr., 5-5, 155
  • QB Billy Kimble, Jr., 5-11, 170
  • DL Quinton Edney, Jr., 6-1, 220
  • OL Jermel Jefferson, 6-4, 300
  • WR Tyler Lafayette, Sr., 5-6, 150 (27 receiving yards)
  • OL/DL Ryan Fueston, Jr., 6-5, 315

 

Gladewater

  • DT Daylon Mack, Sr., 6-1, 330 (7 tackles, 4 for loss, 1 sack; committed to Texas A&M)
  • FB Justice Centers, Jr., 5-11, 220 (24 carries, 121 yards, 3 TDs)
  • RB Darnell McKnight, Soph., 5-11, 195 (13 carries, 93 yards, 2 TDs)
  • WR Caleb Williams, Jr., 5-11, 160 (2 catches, 72 yards)
  • RB Marcello Jackson, Jr., 6-0, 177 (4 carries, 40 yards)
  • DL Quanterius Turner, Jr., 6-2, 280 (2 tackles, 1 for loss)
  • DB Daylon "Duke" Gordon, Sr., 5-10, 155 (7 tackles, 1 blocked kick)
  • LB Austin Blanco, Jr., 5-11, 195 (4 tackles, 1 for loss)

 

Just the facts

  • Pittsburg and Gladewater have met 18 times since World War II. Gladewater leads the series over that span, 12-6.
  • Both programs were among East Texas' winningest teams during the 1980's. Pittsburg was 78-40, while Gladewater was 92-30-2.
  • Pittsburg lost its season opener last week by one point. Its seven losses in 2013 were by an average of 28.3 points.
  • Second-year coach Dickey Meeks is a combined 21-21 in his second seasons as head coach at Chapel Hill, Pine Tree, Mount Vernon and Henderson.
  • Since reaching the state semifinals in 2009, Pittsburg is 18-25 with one playoff win.
  • Last week's season-opening win was Gladewater's fourth consecutive after the Bears were 4-7 in openers from 2000-10.
  • Gladewater put up 402 yards of offense -- 312 rushing -- in last week's defeat of Daingerfield.
  • After beginning last season 3-6, Gladewater has won five of its last six games.

 

Pittsburg RB Tray Walker. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Pittsburg running game vs. Gladewater defensive front. The Pirates struggled getting their offense rolling through the air against Pleasant Grove, which makes establishing a strong rushing attack Friday night at Gladewater all the more important. Junior running backs Tray Walker and Fre'zarian Harrison comprise what could be one of the best rushing duos in all of East Texas this season, and with a beefy offensive line expected to open up running lanes in front of them, Pittsburg's backfield should materialize into a supreme strength of theirs this fall. Despite Walker's 100-yard effort, Pleasant Grove was able to keep Pittsburg's ground game from taking over their Week 1 encounter, which put pressure on the Pirates' quarterback and receivers to make enough plays downfield to keep PG's defense honest. Unfortunately for Pittsburg, that never happened, and the Pirates went down with an unexpected defeat. The loss could serve as an early-season wake-up call for Pittsburg, which is far too talented and experienced to let the 2014 season go to waste. Expect a much better showing by the Pirates in Week 2.

Gladewater DT Daylon Mack. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Out to send Pittsburg sputtering into an 0-2 beginning to the season is a Gladewater defensive led by five-star defensive tackle, Texas A&M commit and three-year starter Daylon Mack. Pittsburg does have size on its O-line with guys like Jermel Jefferson and Ryan Fueston up front, but Gladewater is equally as large on the defensive line. Mack is weighing in at 330 pounds these days, and his partner in crime Quanterius Turner is a hefty 280 pounds. And while the rest of the Bears' defensive front doesn't quite measure up to Mack and Turner in size, their speed and physicality allow them to play much bigger. Mack racked up an astounding 35 tackles for loss last season, and he had four stops behind the line of scrimmage vs. Daingerfield a week ago, so it appears Mack has picked up exactly where he left off as a junior. If Gladewater is able to have success stopping the run, Pittsburg will have to rely on a passing attack that struggled in Week 1. And while the Bears' secondary gave up some big plays through the air last week, Gladewater is normally sound in the defensive backfield, so don't anticipate that becoming an ongoing issue throughout the season.

Pittsburg RB/LB Fre'zarian Harrison. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Don't be surprised if: Pittsburg gives the favored Gladewater Bears a game Friday night. The Pirates earned a 28-14 win over Gladewater last season, and are eager to prove last week's disappointing loss to Pleasant Grove (a 2-8 team in 2013) was merely a fluke. The sheer amount of talent on Pitt's offensive line and in the backfield suggest that it may only be a matter of time before the Pirates begin channeling that potential and using it to bully opposing defenses up front. However, Gladewater may not be the best defense to test that experiment. The Bears' 'D' is loaded with experience, and the D-line has the potential to be one of the dominant units in all of East Texas. Gladewater, too, possesses a talented offensive backfield that continued to roll last week despite the season-ending knee injury suffered by 2013's leading rusher James Reese. With sophomore Darnell McKnight and Marcello Jackson at tailback and Justice Centers and Daryl Polk at fullback, Gladewater has the ability to pound at defenses all game long with fresh legs. But simply put: whichever teams wins the battle up front should come out on top this week.