CLASS 6A DIVISION II
Region II Bi-District Playoff

Rockwall-Heath Hawks (6-4)

vs.

Lufkin Panthers (8-2)

7:30 p.m. Friday
Abe Martin Stadium, Lufkin

 

Coaches

  • Rockwall-Heath: Mickey Moss
  • Lufkin: Todd Quick

 

Last week

 

Next week

  • Winner faces either Garland Naaman Forest or Richardson Pearce, area playoffs

 

Playmakers

Rockwall-Heath

  • ATH Tanner McCalister, Sr., 6-0, 185 (182 carries, 1,282 yards, 15 TDs; 35 tackles, 4 for loss, 2 INTs, 2 PBUs, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovery; committed to Arkansas)
  • QB Garrett Cody, Sr., 5-10, 180 (45 of 93, 651 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT; 93 carries, 458 yards, 6 TDs)
  • OL Michael Denson, Sr., 6-5, 265
  • DB Kendell Jiimerson, Sr., 5-10, 175 (27 tackles, 1 for loss, 4 INTs, 1 PBU, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovery)
  • WR Tyrus Fort, Sr., 5-10, 160 (18 catches, 358 yards, 6 TDs; 63 carries, 412 yards, 6 TDs)
  • LB Desmon Williams, Sr., 6-0, 235 (119 tackles, 6 for loss)
  • DL Cutter Cleveland, Sr., 6-2, 225 (75 tackles, 16 for loss, 5 sacks, 1 fumble recovery)
  • LB Wyatt Watson, Jr., 6-1, 185 (98 tackles, 2 for loss, 1 INT, 3 forced fumbles)

 

Lufkin

  • WR Malik Jackson, Sr., 5-11, 170 (53 catches, 702 yards, 8 TDs; 10 carries, 127 yards, 2 TDs)
  • DL Carl Williams, Jr., 6-4, 306 (26 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 4 QB pressures, 2 forced fumbles)
  • WR Breylon Garcia, Jr., 6-4, 215 (20 catches, 329 yards, 3 TDs)
  • RB Isaiah Phillips, Sr., 5-9, 185 (171 carries, 1,213 yards, 18 TDs; 3 catches, 29 yards, 0 TDs)
  • DB Jeremiah Davis, Sr., 6-0, 180 (60 tackles, 1 for loss, 2 INTs, 8 PBUs, 4 forced fumbles; committed to Louisiana-Lafayette)
  • WR Ja'Lynn Polk, Soph., 6-2, 175 (26 catches, 448 yards, 4 TDs)
  • DB Savon Fields, Sr., 5-9, 168 (47 tackles, 3 for loss, 2 QB pressures, 4 PBUs, 2 fumble recoveries)
  • QB Kewone Thomas, Jr., 6-2, 190 (132 of 225, 1,808 yards, 18 TDs, 5 INTs; 95 carries, 125 yards, 7 TDs)

 

Just the facts

  • The cumulative record of Rockwall-Heath's 2017 opponents is 49-51 (.490).
  • The cumulative record of Lufkin's 2017 opponents is 40-41 (.494).
  • Rockwall-Heath is averaging 32.2 points and 327.5 yards per game -- 241.3 rushing and 86.2 passing.
  • The Hawks are 1-3 this season against teams with a winning record.
  • Rockwall-Heath is allowing 28 points per game, and has forced 16 turnovers -- 13 interceptions and three fumbles.
  • Lufkin is averaging 37.5 points and 398.5 yards per game -- 211.2 rushing and 187.3 passing.
  • The Panthers' defense is limiting opponents to 3.1 yards per rushing attempt.
  • Lufkin is allowing 22.1 points per game, and has forced 25 turnovers -- 10 interceptions and 15 fumbles.

 

Key matchup: Rockwall-Heath rushing attack vs. Lufkin defensive front. The Hawks are primarily a run-first team, using several tight formations with extra tight ends on several occasions. It's a recipe that's worked this season as Heath enters the playoffs averaging more than 240 rushing yards per game. The bulk of the production comes from three players -- running back Tanner McCalister, quarterback Garrett Cody, and receiver Tyrus Fort. That trio has combined for all but 122 of the team's rushing yards on the year. McCalister, an Arkansas commit as a defensive back, is the primary ball carrier with more than 1,200 yards and 15 touchdowns during the regular season.

Lufkin DL Carl Williams. (© Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

Lufkin's defense has been solid all season long against the run. The Panthers are limiting opponents to less than 3.5 yards per carry, and the Lufkin front will need to come up big again Friday if the Panthers wish to continue in the playoffs. The goal should be to make Heath as uncomfortable as possible, and in this case, that means forcing the Hawks to the air. Cody averages less than 10 passing attempts per game, so if Lufkin can get Heath into double digits in the passing game, that might mean good news for the Panthers' defense.

Don't be surprised if: Lufkin tries to throw the ball deep downfield in the early going in an effort to put Heath behind by multiple scores. The Hawks' grind-it-out approach on offense doesn't lend itself to too many comebacks. The Panthers love playing at home, having an excellent run defense, and haven't won a playoff game since 2012. Everything points to a Lufkin victory Friday night, but at this time of the year, nothing is a given.