DISTRICT 6-4A DIVISION II

Center Roughriders (8-1, 4-0)

vs.

Gladewater Bears (4-5, 3-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Jack V. Murphy Bear Stadium, Gladewater

 

Coaches
  • Center: Barry Bowman
  • Gladewater: John Berry

 

Last week

 

Next week
  • Center: TBD, 4A Division II playoffs
  • Gladewater: TBD, 4A Division II playoffs

 

Playmakers

Center

  • WR Octavius Evans, Jr., 6-2, 190 (46 catches, 579 yards, 6 TDs)
  • QB Kyle Parks, Jr., 6-1, 185 (117 of 188, 1,531 yards, 15 TDs, 5 INTs; 134 carries, 751 yards, 4 TDs)
  • WR/DB JaTerious Evans, Soph, 5-10, 165 (22 catches, 352 yards, 2 TDs)
  • RB/LB DaCorey McGee, Sr., 5-10, 200 (35 carries, 300 yards, 10 TDs; 7 catches, 117 yards, 3 TDs)
  • RB/LB Sayoddrick Barnes, Sr., 6-0, 220 (50 carries, 321 yards, 8 TDs; 7 catches, 70 yards)
  • WR Joe Caraway, Jr. (26 catches, 274 yards, 1 TD)
  • DL LaMarcus Goodwin, Sr., 6-0, 295
  • LB Adrian Johnson, Jr.

 

Gladewater

  • RB/LB Darnell McKnight, Jr., 5-10, 221 (37 carries, 440 yards, 8 TDs; 48 tackles, 9 for loss, 2 forced fumbles, 3 recoveries, 2 PBUs)
  • RB/LB Marcello Jackson, Sr., 6-0, 190 (120 carries, 897 yards, 13 TDs; 28 tackles, 1 for loss, 1 INT)
  • WR Cameron Callaway, Sr., 5-11, 165 (27 catches, 557 yards, 7 TDs)
  • DL Quanterius Turner, Sr., 6-4, 275 (52 tackles, 14 for loss, 3 sacks)
  • FB/DB Isaiah Davis, Soph., 5-11, 195 (43 carries, 310 yards, 3 TDs; 43 tackles, 2 INTs, 5 PBUs)
  • QB Blake Guthrie, Sr., 6-0, 165 (32 of 67, 577 yards, 8 TDs, 2 INTs; 20 carries, 116 yards, 2 TDs)
  • FB Justice Centers, Sr., 6-0, 215 (104 carries, 589 yards, 3 TDs; 3 catches, 80 yards)
  • DB Austin Hawley, Jr., 6-1, 195 (65 tackles, 1 for loss, 3 forced fumbles, 1 recovery, 1 INT, 7 PBUs, 1 blocked kick)

 

Just the facts
  • Since 1954, Gladewater and Center have met 13 times. Gladewater leads the series over that span, 11-2.
  • With a win, Center will clinch the No. 1 seed from 6-4A in the Division II playoffs. If Gladewater wins and Atlanta is also victorious, there will be a three-way tie for first place.
  • Center is averaging 35.9 points and 357.8 yards per game -- 187.7 rushing and 170.1 passing.
  • The Roughriders' defense is allowing an average of 14.8 points per game.
  • Center's eight wins in the regular season are its most since 2012. It has not won nine or more games in a season since 1996.
  • Gladewater is averaging 34.4 points and 361.7 yards per game -- 275.1 rushing and 86.6 passing.
  • The Bears' defense is allowing an average of 28.6 points per game.
  • Gladewater is in the playoffs for a third consecutive season for the first time since 2004-06.

 

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

Key matchup: Gladewater rushing attack vs. Center defensive front. Don't let Gladewater's sub-.500 record fool you; the Bears are still a quality football team. Gladewater's five losses on the year have come to Pittsburg, Bossier City (La.) Parkway, Carthage, Kilgore and Atlanta, which have a cumulative season record of 34-11. And three of those defeats were by seven points or less. The Bears have also dealt with adversity, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. Gladewater had a change at quarterback early in the season, and then lost 2014's leading receiver for the season to a serious head injury in Week 4. One thing that has not been affected is Gladewater's deep and productive collection of running backs.

The Bears enter Friday night's regular-season finale with four ball carriers that have each logged at least 37 rushing attempts and 310 rushing yards. Gladewater rotates two tailbacks -- senior and leading rusher Marcello Jackson, and junior Darnell McKnight -- and two fullbacks, senior Justice Centers and sophomore Isaiah Davis. The four of them have accounted for 2,236 of the team's rushing yards, and roughly 70 percent of the Bears' total offense. While Gladewater's passing offense should not be the primary concern of opposing defenses, it is still effective enough to be the difference in a game if success in the running game can open up downfield strikes.

Center DL LaMarcus Goodwin. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

To prevent that from happening, a stout Center defense must do what it can to keep Gladewater's rushing attack from dictating the game's tempo. The Roughriders enter Friday with one of East Texas' stingiest defensive units, allowing opponents an average of less than 15 points per game. Center has limited six of its nine foes to 10 points or less this season, and that has helped the 'Riders to an eight-game winning streak. Since a Week 1 loss to defending 3A Division II state champion and undefeated Waskom (34-22), Center is outscoring teams by an average of more than 25 points per game. A strong defensive front anchored by senior tackle LaMarcus Goodwin, and one of East Texas' top linebacking corps featuring seniors DaCorey McGee and Sayoddrick Barnes, has transformed Center into a team defined by its defense.

Don't be surprised if: Gladewater is forced into throwing the football more than it's accustomed. The Bears average less than 10 passing attempts per game, and against a few of its opponents this season, that has not mattered much. Gladewater puts up 275 rushing yards per game on average, and that's been against some of the toughest competition any 4A team in East Texas has faced in 2015. However, the Bears could be facing one of their biggest challenges offensively all year with Center's defensive front. If the Bears struggle early to find traction with their running game, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Gladewater begin calling a few more pass plays early in the down-and-distance to keep the 'Riders' defense honest. Center's offensive balance will be a chore for Gladewater's defense to corral, and if the Bears' offense isn't getting what it needs on the ground within the first few series of the game, it will be up to Gladewater quarterback Blake Guthrie and speedy receiver Cameron Callaway (20.6 yards per catch) to make Center think twice about loading the box against the run.