No. 9 Gladewater Bears (1-0)

vs.

Pittsburg Pirates (1-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Pirate Stadium, Pittsburg

 

Coaches
  • Gladewater: John Berry
  • Pittsburg: Brad Baca

 

Last week

 

Next week
  • Gladewater: vs. Bossier City Parkway (at Shreveport), Sept. 12
  • Pittsburg: vs. New Boston, Sept. 11

 

Playmakers

Gladewater

  • RB/LB Darnell McKnight, Jr., 5-10, 220
  • DL Quanterius Turner, Sr., 6-4, 275
  • RB Justice Centers, Sr., 6-0, 215
  • DB Austin Hawley, Jr., 6-1, 195
  • RB/LB Marcello Jackson, Sr., 6-0, 190
  • WR Caleb Williams, Sr., 5-11, 160
  • LB Austin Blanco, Sr., 5-11, 220
  • WR Cameron Callaway, Jr.

 

Pittsburg

  • RB/LB Fre'Zarian Harrison, Sr., 6-0, 220
  • QB Brian Baca, Sr., 5-10, 180
  • WR Billy Kimble, Sr., 5-11, 170
  • OL/DL Nathan Capers, Sr., 6-4, 250
  • RB Tray Walker, Sr., 5-5, 160
  • WR Dejour Dowell, Jr., 6-1, 185
  • RB/DB Hugo Fluellen, Sr., 5-10, 160
  • DL Quinton Edney, Sr.

 

Just the facts
  • This is the 22nd meeting between Gladewater at Pittsburg. Gladewater leads the all-time series, 15-6.
  • Five of Pittsburg's six wins vs. Gladewater have come since 2003.
  • Gladewater is 7-3 in season openers since 2006.
  • The Bears put up 56 points in last week's season opener vs. Daingerfield. In 2014, Gladewater scored 50 points or more in a game five times.
  • Gladewater is 10-4 in non-district since 2012.
  • Pittsburg is 8-2 in season openers since 2006.
  • The Pirates won last week. They didn't win their first game until Week 5 in 2014.
  • Pittsburg is 5-11 in non-district since 2012.

 

Gladewater RB/DB Marcello Jackson. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Gladewater running game vs. Pittsburg defensive front. If there's one thing that stands out about Gladewater it's its rushing attack, which is among the deepest and most explosive in all of East Texas. Most opposing defenses will have their hands full on most Friday nights lining up against the Bears. In last week's win over Daingerfield, Gladewater's duo of Marcello Jackson and Isaiah Davis each eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark on the night. But the talent doesn't stop there. Gladewater can also turn to senior fullback Justice Centers or junior bruiser Darnell McKnight, who starts at linebacker, to pound away on defenses. New quarterback Dadrian Strickland connected with Caleb Williams for a touchdown pass last week as well, but Strickland also has the ability to change the complexion of games with his legs. The biggest key to Gladewater's stout rushing attack, aside from an outstanding offensive line, is the Bears' tremendous depth in the backfield.

Pittsburg LB Fre'Zarian Harrison. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

Pittsburg will have its work cut trying to defend Gladewater's ball carriers Friday night. The Pirates' defense did a nice job in their season-opening defeat of Pleasant Grove last week, but Gladewater presents an entirely different set of challenges. But, it's not as if the Pirates are ill-equipped to handle the task. Defensive linemen Quinton Edney, E.J. Hill, and Nathan Capers are big bodies capable of clogging running lanes up front, while linebacker Fre'Zarian Harrison is both large and skilled in the middle of the Pirates' defense. If Pittsburg's "D" can at least slow down Gladewater's effectiveness on the ground, and create a few obvious passing downs, the Pirates may be able to force the issue and manufacture a turnover or two. If Pittsburg can win the turnover battle, and not let the Bears' backs run wild, the Pirates stand an excellent chance of pulling off the upset.

Gladewater RB/LB Darnell McKnight. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

Don't be surprised if: This year's encounter between Gladewater and Pittsburg is much more closely contested. While many felt the Bears were an overwhelming favorite heading into last season's matchup, it was impossible to predict just how dominant Gladewater would be that night. The Bears rolled up 77 points, including 63 by halftime, in 2014's lopsided affair. And while Gladewater has loads of experience coming back this season, so does Pittsburg. Last year, Pittsburg entered this game on the heels off a disappointing one-point loss to Pleasant Grove. With the Pirates pulling off a win in Week 1 in the debut of head coach Brad Baca, Pittsburg should enter Friday night's home game brimming with confidence. Will that be enough to carry Pitt to consecutive wins? We'll all find out by the end of the night Friday.