Class 2A Division I Region II
Final

Daingerfield Tigers (10-3)

vs.

New Boston Lions (12-1)

2 p.m. Saturday

Sam Parker Field, Mount Pleasant

Coaches
  • Daingerfield: Aric Sardinea
  • New Boston: Jamey Thomas

 

Last week

 

Next week
  • Winner faces Wall (13-0) or Eastland (13-0) in a 2A D-I state semifinal.

 

Playmakers

Daingerfield

  • DT Kelshin Neal, Sr., 5-10, 185 (169 tackles, 56 for loss, 23 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries, 9 QB pressures)
  • LB Calvin Bryant, Sr., 5-10, 175 (112 tackles, 14 for loss, 1 INT, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery)
  • QB Keris Alexander, Sr., 6-0, 166 (90 of 166, 1,186 yards, 13 TDs, 8 INTs; 74 carries, 283 yards, 5 TDs)
  • DB Cory Smith, Sr., 5-9, 155 (72 tackles, 12 for loss, 5 sacks, 1 INT, 2 fumble recoveries)
  • RB Cordarius Anderson, Sr., 5-6, 160 (174 carries, 1,432 yards, 27 TDs; 13 catches, 130 yards, 1 TD)
  • WR Keaton Key, Sr., 5-10, 165 (50 catches, 800 yards, 11 TDs)
  • DB Jordan Miles, Sr., 5-5, 175 (88 tackles, 18 for loss, 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 4 fumble recoveries)
  • DE Domonique Allen, Soph., 5-11, 195 (76 tackles, 24 for loss, 7 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries, 11 QB pressures)
  • LB Spencer Alexander, Sr. 6-0, 190 (80 tackles, 12 for loss, 4 sacks, 2 INTs, 3 fumble recoveries; returned fumble for TD last week vs. Pottsboro)
  • DB Cedarion Hopkins, Sr., 5-10, 170 (78 tackles, 2 INTs, 2 forced fumbles)

 

New Boston

  • RB Quinn Dedmon, Jr., 5-10, 165 (145 carries, 1,283 yards, 12 TDs)
  • QB Aaron Conkleton, Sr. (47 of 86, 976 yards, 17 TDs, 2 INTs; 53 carries, 212 yards, 5 TDs)
  • WR/DB Jawuan Johnson, Sr., 6-0, 190 (committed to Northern Illinois; 23 catches, 447 yards, 7 TDs)
  • RB Davontae Wade (76 carries, 993 yards, 13 TDs)
  • ATH Jeff Gladney, Jr., 5-10, 180 (20 carries, 238 yards, 3 TDs; 19 catches, 551 yards, 9 TDs)
  • RB Keith Baldwin (93 carries, 568 yards, 5 TDs)
  • OL/DL Wesley Holmes, Sr., 6-3, 280
  • RB/DB T.Q. Dedmon, Jr. (27 carries, 170 yards, 4 TDs)
  • DE/LB Dedric Draggoo, Jr.

 

Just the facts
  • This state quarterfinal marks the seventh meeting between Daingerfield and New Boston in the last four years.
  • The teams played twice in 2010, once in 2011, twice in 2012, and this game will be the second between them this season.
  • Daingerfield won 40-16 at home vs. New Boston on Oct. 4.
  • Daingerfield has reached the regional finals for the sixth consecutive season.
  • Daingerfield has played in four state championship games in the last five years, winning championships three years in a row from 2008-10 before losing to Cameron Yoe in last year's 2A D-I title game.
  • New Boston is 23-0 against teams not named Daingerfield since the start of the 2012 season.
  • In that same span, the Lions are 1-2 against the Tigers, winning 38-37 in last year's regular-season meeting.
  • Daingerfield avenged that loss with a 35-28 regional final victory against New Boston on its way to a state runner-up finish.
  • New Boston's 2012 regular-season, one-point win against Daingerfield is the Lions' only victory vs. the Tigers in this seven-meeting span.
  • Daingerfield averages 37.8 points per game and yields 15.8.
  • New Boston averages 36.3 points per game and allows 16.4.
  • Daingerfield has won nine consecutive games after starting 1-3.
  • New Boston has won seven consecutive games after the 24-point loss at Daingerfield on Oct. 4.
  • Daingerfield is 10-0 vs. 2A opponents and 0-3 vs. 3A opponents, all three of which reached the playoffs, including two that played at least three rounds deep in the postseason (Gladewater, Atlanta, Gilmer).
  • New Boston is 9-1 vs. 2A opponents and 3-0 vs. 3A opponents, only one of which reached the playoffs (Pleasant Grove, Pittsburg, and Paris North Lamar).

 

Daingerfield DL Kelshin Neal. (Courtesy Daingerfield-Lone Star ISD)

Key matchup: Daingerfield's defensive front vs. New Boston's running game. New Boston, as usual, is at its best when the Lions can run the ball at will, something they have done against the vast majority of opponents this season.

Head coach Jamey Thomas has several capable ball-carrying options at his disposal, including Quinn Dedmon, Keith Baldwin, Aaron Conkleton, and Jeff Gladney. That quartet helped New Boston deal with the offseason graduation of all-everything tailback Damien Haskins, who ran for more than 3,000 yards and 52 touchdowns during last year's run to the regional final.

That's where the Lions' 2012 season ended at the hands of Daingerfield, which has made a habit of going at least four rounds deep. Friday's matchup with New Boston marks Daingerfield's sixth consecutive appearance in the regional finals, and the Tigers boast a thrilling 35-28 victory against the Lions in last year's fourth round.

To achieve that again, Daingerfield needs a big performance from its players in the box on defense. Senior Kelshin Neal is undersized, but cat quick and leads East Texas in tackles for loss and sacks with staggering numbers of 59 and 23, respectively. Calvin Bryant anchors an experienced linebacking corps that is well-acquainted with this rushing attack from rival New Boston.

But if New Boston's seven-point win against Malakoff in last week's regional semifinal is any indication, Daingerfield must be prepared to stop the pass if it's successful in shutting down the Lions' ground attack. Malakoff contained the New Boston running game, but the Lions threw for 180 yards and three touchdowns to get the win. That was similar to Daingerfield's offensive performance in its 40-16 regular-season win vs. New Boston, which shut down the Tigers on the ground, but yielded 200 yards and six touchdowns through the air.

New Boston's Keith Baldwin scores during a Sept. 6 win at Pleasant Grove. (Evan Lewis, ETSN.fm)

In other words, the ground game matchup is definitely the key entering this game, but it will be interesting to see how these well-coached teams adjust if the game plan isn't going their way.

Don't be surprised if: Like virtually all of the East Texas football playoff games this weekend, the weather has an impact. The Texarkana Gazette confirmed Thursday afternoon that the kickoff had indeed been pushed up from 7:30 to 6 p.m. Further changes could be coming if the forecasts worsen by midday Friday.

UPDATE: The game has been moved to 2 p.m. Saturday because of weather. A decision will be made Saturday morning to play or not play. If the teams can't play Saturday, they will play in Mount Pleasant at 6 p.m. Monday.

Whenever this game happens, fans of both teams who brave the cold temperatures should be in for a treat. New Boston and Daingerfield meet for the seventh time in four years to once again decide the 2A D-I Region II champion.

Which team will be better equipped to beat its opponent and the weather? Turnovers, as always, could have a major impact on the outcome. Regardless of the winner, we at least know that East Texas will have a team in the 2A D-I state semifinals playing for a spot in Arlington in two weeks.

Daingerfield DB Cory Smith. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)