DISTRICT 9-5A DIVISION II

Marshall Mavericks (7-2, 6-0)

vs.

Pine Tree Pirates (5-4, 3-3)

7:30 p.m. Friday
Pirate Stadium, Longview

Coaches

  • Marshall: Claude Mathis
  • Pine Tree: Kerry Lane

Last week

Next week

  • Marshall: vs. TBD, bi-district playoffs
  • Pine Tree: TBD

Players to watch

Marshall

  • QB JJ Green, Jr., 6-4, 170 (110 of 191, 1,796 yards, 26 TDs, 7 INTs; 77 carries, 487 yards, 6 TDs)
  • WR Tahj Washington, Sr., 5-11, 168 (34 catches, 621 yards, 9 TDs; 19 carries, 172 yards, 3 TDs)
  • WR De'Kendrick Bender, Sr., 6-2, 196 (24 catches, 458 yards, 8 TDs; 30 carries, 304 yards, 6 TDs; 6 of 12, 139 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT)
  • WR Savion Williams, Jr., 6-5, 203 (32 catches, 515 yards, 8 TDs; 9 carries, 37 yards)
  • LB Brevin Randle, Sr., 6-0, 215 (76 tackles, 27.5 for loss, 3.5 sacks, 13 QB pressures, 1 PBU, 2 forced fumbles, 1 recovery, 2 defensive TDs)
  • DE Mike Washington, Soph., 5-11, 210 (45 tackles, 25 for loss, 8 sacks, 9 QB pressures, 2 PBUs, 1 fumble recovery)
  • DB Champ Mathis, Sr., 5-10, 170 (31 tackles, 2 for loss, 2 INTs, 8 PBUs, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovery)
  • LB Ky'gze Turner, Jr., 5-9, 210 (66 tackles, 18 for loss, 3 sacks, 3 QB pressures, 1 PBU, 2 forced fumbles, 1 recovery)

Pine Tree

  • RB Gabe Nelson, Sr., 5-11, 157 (181 carries, 1,531 yards, 10 TDs; 7 catches, 47 yards, 1 TD)
  • WR JJ Sparkman, Jr., 6-5, 205 (26 catches, 636 yards, 9 TDs; 2 carries, 13 yards)
  • HB Keshon Williams, Sr., 6-3, 240 (27 carries, 229 yards, 7 TDs; 13 catches, 289 yards, 1 TD)
  • WR/DB Da'Von Coleman, Sr., 5-10, 165 (18 catches, 308 yards, 6 TDs; 6 carries, 59 yards; 21 tackles, 1 for loss, 3 INTs, 12 PBUs, 1 forced fumble)
  • QB DJ Freeman, Soph., 5-8, 140 (63 of 127, 1,163 yards, 16 TDs, 3 INTs; 82 carries, 827 yards, 10 TDs)
  • DB Nichlous Williams, Sr., 5-11, 165 (52 tackles, 5 for loss, 1 sack, 3 QB pressures, 2 INTs, 2 PBUs, 1 fumble recovery)
  • DT Keith Burkes, Sr., 5-11, 260 (27 tackles, 8 for loss, 2 sacks, 2 QB pressures, 1 forced fumble)
  • DB Davarian Malone, Sr., 6-2, 165 (50 tackles, 2 for loss, 1 sack, 3 QB pressures, 1 PBU, 1 fumble recovery)

Just the facts

  • Marshall has won 17 consecutive district games.
  • Marshall is averaging 39.3 points and 444.2 yards per game -- 218.6 rushing and 225.6  passing.
  • Mavericks receiver De'Kendrick Bender has accounted for 901 yards of offense and 16 touchdowns -- eight receiving, six rushing, and two passing.
  • Marshall is allowing 23.8 points per game, has 20 sacks, and has forced 14 turnovers -- eight interceptions and six fumbles.
  • Pine Tree needs a win Friday to clinch its first winning season since 2002.
  • Pine Tree is averaging 45.1 points and 492.7 yards per game -- 327 rushing and 165.7 passing.
  • Pirates senior running back Gabe Nelson is averaging 170.1 rushing yards per game.
  • Pine Tree is allowing 37.6 points per game, has eight sacks, and has forced 14 turnovers -- nine interceptions and five fumbles.
Pine Tree RB Gabe Nelson. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Pine Tree rushing attack vs. Marshall defensive front. The Pirates are the highest-scoring team in District 9-5A Division II, averaging more than 45 points per game heading into Friday's regular-season finale. Pine Tree has big-play potential with standout junior receiver JJ Sparkman averaging almost 25 yards per catch, but most of the Pirates' offensive production comes from the ground game. Senior running back Gabe Nelson is closing in on 1,600 yards on the season, and currently ranks eighth in East Texas in rushing. Nelson averages 170 yards per game, and gets an average of 20 carries each week, so he'll definitely be a featured player in the Pirates' game plan. The run-pass option game is also big for Pine Tree as sophomore quarterback DJ Freeman enters this week with 827 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. He is averaging a team-best 10.1 yards per carry.

Marshall LB Brevin Randle. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

Marshall is playing its best defense of the season in district play, holding league opponents to just 15 points per game. The Mavs have been even better the last three weeks, holding Jacksonville, Nacogdoches, and Whitehouse to a combined 13 points. Marshall is strong at all three levels of its defense. Sophomore Mike Washington has racked up 25 tackles for loss, linebackers Brevin Randle and Ky'gze Turner have combined for 142 tackles, 46 of which have come behind the line of scrimmage. Pine Tree can't afford too many second- and third-and-longs against an aggressive Marshall defensive front.

Don't be surprised if: Friday's game is high scoring. While it's true that Marshall's defense has been awfully difficult on opposing offenses of late, the Mavs should get a challenge from a Pine Tree offense that has scored at least 38 points in all six of their district games. Marshall is explosive in its own right, and the Pirates have struggled all season long on the defensive side of the ball. The 28 points Pine Tree allowed Lindale last week were the fewest it's surrendered in district play.