PREVIEW: Both Unbeaten, Mineola + West Rusk Open District Play
DISTRICT 8-3A DIVISION I
Mineola Yellowjackets (3-0, 0-0)
West Rusk Raiders (4-0, 0-0)
7:30 p.m. Friday
Bruce Bradshaw Stadium, New London
- Mineola: Luke Blackwell
- West Rusk: John Frazier
- Mineola: def. Big Sandy, 26-14
- West Rusk: def. Palestine Westwood, 63-27
- Mineola: idle
- West Rusk: at Gladewater, Oct. 5
Players to watch
- QB Shaw Franklin, Sr., 6-3, 170 (9-of-22, 194 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT; 40 carries, 468 yards, 7 TDs)
- RB/DL Trevion Sneed, Soph., 6-0, 200 (53 carries, 587 yards, 5 TDs; 1 catch, 2 yards; 22 tackles, 5 for loss, 2 forced fumbles, 3 sacks)
- OL/DL Cameron Wise, Sr., 6-0, 285
- FS/WR Dalton Rogers, Jr. (32 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 2 PBUs)
- DL Hunter Wright, So. (29 tackles, 4 for loss, 3 QB hurries)
- SS/WR Wylie Franks, Jr., 6-2, 180 (15 tackles, 1 PBU)
- WR/DB Cole Castleberry, Jr., 5-10, 160 (1 catch, 30 yards;
- DL Alex Evans, Sr., 5-9, 155
- WR Cameron Bowman, Sr., 6-1, 175 (5 catches, 126 yards)
- Kobe Kendrick, So. (29 tackles, 3 for loss, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble
- QB/DB LaJavius Harper, Sr., 5-10, 158 (29-of-55, 586 yards, 9 TDs, 1 INT; 19 carries, 124 yards, 3 TDs; 34 tackles, 5 PBUs, 1 forced fumble)
- RB/DB Tyrell Moore, Jr., 5-8, 165 (38 carries, 266 yards, 2 TDs; 7 tackles)
- RB/LB Jaylon Garland, Sr., 5-8, 175 (42 carries, 223 yards, 1 TD; 2 tackles)
- WR/DB Talon Winings, Jr., 5-11, 170 (6 catches, 138 yards, 2 TDs; 3 INTs, 2 tackles, 1 PBU, 1 fumble recovery)
- WR/DB DJ Hart, Sr., 6-0, 185 (7 carries, 106 yards, 1 TD; 7 catches, 111 yards, 2 TDs; 11 tackles. 2 PBUs)
- FB/LB Orlando Cortez, Sr., 5-10, 190 (1 carry, 4 yards; 67 tackles, 13 for loss, 5 sacks, 1 PBU, 6 QB hurries)
- OL/DL Colton Mills, Jr., 6-1, 238 (44 tackles, 13 for loss, 5 sacks, 3 PBUs, 4 QB hurries)
- OL/LB Diego Molina, Sr., 5-10 190 (52 tackles, 9 for loss, 3 PBUs, 1 fumble recovery, 1 QB hurry)
- DL Darius Richardson, Sr., 6-3, 303 (19 tackles, 4 for loss, 2 sacks)
- OL/DL Alvaro Coertez, So., 6-0 (33 tackles, 5 for loss, 2 sacks, 3 QB hurries 1 PBU, 1 fumble recovery)
- OL/DL Parker Mizell, Jr., 6-0, 200 (20 tackles, 9 for loss, 1 sack, 7 QB hurries, 2 PBUs)
- WR Trevor Henson, Sr., 5-9, 150 (7 catches, 219 yards, 3 TDs)
Just the facts
- Mineola and West Rusk have not met since at least 2004, according to MaxPreps.
- West Rusk is averaging 378.8 yards per game (146.5 passing and 232.3 rushing).
- The Raiders' opponents are a combined 6-8.
- West Rusk defensive end Colton Mills is tied for the team lead in sacks with five, but four of them came in Week 4's defeat of Palestine Westwood.
- Mineola is averaging 467 yards per game (64.7 passing and 402.3 rushing).
- The Yellowjackets' opponents have a combined record of 2-10.
- Trevion Sneed and Shaw Franklin have combined for more than 1,000 yards rushing and are both among the area leaders.
Key matchup: Mineola rushing attack against the West Rusk defense. Mineola prefers to run the ball. It's not difficult to see why. Trevion Sneed and Shaw Franklin are both threats to score each time they touch it, averaging more than 11 yards per carry. This results in the Yellowjackets calling 38.6 running plays on average compared to 7.3 passing plays. If you're going to stop Mineola's offense, you're going to need a solid front that can get into the backfield.
Thankfully, that is West Rusk's forte. The Raiders are consistently one of the better defenses in East Texas, especially when it comes to getting in the backfield. The Raiders have already amassed 64 tackles per loss this season. Orlando Cortez and Diego Molina, both linebackers, are the veterans of the group. But it's the emergence of Coltan Mills that has kept this defense from falling off after losing Tyree Wilson to graduation. Mills, a junior defensive end, is tied for the lead in both tackles for loss and sacks. His play against Palestine Westwood, in which he recorded six tackles for loss and four sacks, earned him the ETSN.fm Defensive Player of the Week this past week.
Whichever group is able to get its way and win this battle will most likely find itself still undefeated after Friday.
Don't be surprised if: LJ Harper makes several throws for big gains. The Raider quarterback is averaging 20.2 yards per completion. He will also get receiver Talon Winings, who missed the past two weeks because of injury, back this week. That gives him three solid targets along with DJ Hart and Trevor Henson. The Raiders offense is a solid balance of running and passing. That blend should lead to a bit easier of a time moving the ball for West Rusk.