Redwater Running Game Faces White Oak Spread Attack in Friday’s Season Opener
White Oak Roughnecks
7:30 p.m. Friday
Buckeye Stadium, Gilmer
- Redwater: Tommy Graf
- White Oak: Gerry Stanford
- White Oak 10, Redwater 8 (season opener at Gilmer's Buckeye Stadium)
- RB/LB Neo Hudson, Jr., 6-0, 180
- RB/LB Dalton White, Sr., 5-10, 180
- DB Kolby Browning, Sr.
- LB Matthew Candelaria, Sr.
- QB Michael Cochran, Jr., 5-10, 175
- RB Dionte Hudson, Soph., 5-9, 165
- OL Braven Smith, Sr., 5-10, 200
- OL Spencer Long, Sr., 5-10, 180
- QB Dylan Gale, Sr., 5-8, 165
- WR/DB Jansen McCurdy, Sr., 6-0, 165
- WR/DE Hayden Nichols, 6-3, 215
- WR/S Gabe Michael, Sr., 6-1, 175
- OL/DL Jason Heim, Sr., 6-1, 260
- DT D’Quantis Sutton, Sr., 5-11, 260
- DT Kris Layman, Sr., 5-9, 245
- DB Jake Pullen, Jr.
- DB Cass Carr, Sr.
- OL Mickey McFall, Sr.
- RB/LB Riley Lakin, Sr.
Just the facts
- Redwater went 5-6 in 2012, reaching the Class 2A Division I Region II first round, where the Dragons fell 28-22 to Malakoff.
- Redwater's current five-season streak of at least five wins per year is the best in school history. The Dragons are 28-25 in that span.
- Redwater's 8-4 season in 2011 is the best single-season campaign in school history. The Dragons were 8-3 in 2003, but did not win a playoff game, whereas the 2011 season includes their only playoff win in program history.
- After a 1-1 start to the 2012 season, White Oak won eight of its next nine games before falling 47-32 to Grandview in a Class 2A Division I Region III area playoff.
- Like Redwater, White Oak has won at least five games five consecutive years, compiling a 36-19 record since 2008.
- Redwater's Neo Hudson and Dalton White combined for 1,664 rushing yards last season.
- White Oak's Dylan Gale threw for 2,281 yards and 24 touchdowns as a junior. He also ran for two scores.
- White Oak's Jansen McCurdy averaged an eye-opening 25.9 yards per catch as a junior.
- McCurdy combined with classmates Gabe Michael and Hayden Nichols to catch 92 passes in 2012.
- Redwater's Kolby Browning and Matthew Candelaria combined for 157 tackles as juniors.
Key matchup: Redwater's secondary vs. White Oak's receiving corps. Maybe the more obvious matchup to watch is White Oak's defensive front against Redwater's run-heavy offense, but there's little doubt that White Oak's passing attack could provide the type of game-impacting plays that tilt this battle in the Roughnecks' favor.
With another offseason in head coach Gerry Stanford's spread offense, seven returning offensive starters should be especially dangerous this fall. Those returning starters include trigger man Dylan Gale and three proven targets in big-play receiver Jansen McCurdy, dependable option Gabe Michael, and the red-zone mismatch Hayden Nichols, whose bigger than 6-foot-3 frame give him a huge advantage against smaller defensive backs.
Perhaps the most interesting part of this matchup is where Redwater's Kolby Browning lines up. He's back for the Dragons after being maybe their best defensive player in 2012, when he had almost 80 tackles and picked off five passes. Gale and company will certainly know pre-snap where he's setting up.
Don't be surprised if: Redwater combats the White Oak passing game by playing keep-away with its run-first attack. Don't let last year's 18-point output fool you; there's a very good chance that this year's game won't be anywhere near as low-scoring, especially on from White Oak's perspective.
The Roughnecks had a great summer of 7-on-7, performing well in the June league in Longview before reaching the first round of the Division II championship bracket at July's state tournament. Those reps gave Gale and his receivers that many more chances to familiarize themselves with each other.
Redwater definitely has a strong running game and should get some licks in Friday night in Gilmer. But White Oak enters the contest as the favorite in a season opener that could be a harbinger of what's to come for the Roughnecks this fall. They have District 9-2A Division I aspirations, and facing a physical, run-heavy team in a neutral site opener should give the 'Necks a good feel for what important, away-from-home contests will present later in the schedule.