DISTRICT 7-4A DIVISION I

Pittsburg Pirates (7-1, 2-1)

vs.

Princeton Panthers (7-1, 3-0)

7 p.m. Thursday

Jackie Hendrix Stadium, Princeton

Coaches
  • Pittsburg: Brad Baca
  • Princeton: Lee Wilkins
Last week
Next week
  • Pittsburg: vs. Quinlan Ford, Nov. 6
  • Princeton: at Liberty-Eylau, Nov. 6

Playmakers

Pittsburg

 

  • RB/LB Fre’Zarian Harrison, Sr., 6-0, 220 (94 tackles, 29 for loss, 6 sacks for -39 yards, 3 forced fumbles)
  • QB Brian Baca, Sr., 5-10, 181 (77-133, 1,351 yards, 12 TDs, 5 INTs, 62 carries, 431 yards, 2 TDs)
  • WR Damien Porter, Sr., 5-10, 145 (33 catches, 628 yards, 7 TDs, long of 93 yards)
  • OL/DL Nathan Capers, Sr., 6-4, 250
  • RB/DB Tray Walker, Sr., 5-5, 156 (152 carries, 1,037 yards, 9 TDs)
  • WR/DL Quinton Edney, Sr. (36 tackles, 12 for loss, 1 sack,  3 fumble recoveries)

 

Princeton

 

  • RB/LB George Flores, Sr., 5-11, 180 (196 carries, 1,317 yards, 14 TDs)
  • QB/LB Colt Collins, Sr., 6-1, 205 (79-132, 1,277 yards, 17 TDs, 4 INTs, 85 carries, 547 yards, 8 TDs)
  • WR/TE/DL Brandon Talley, Sr., 6-3, 205 (25 catches, 378 yards, 5 TDs)
  • WR/DB Sandavion Matthews, Sr., 6-0, 155 (18 catches, 325 yards, 5 TDs)

 

Just the facts
  • The game was originally scheduled for Friday, but it was moved to a 7 p.m. kick Thursday to avoid a second consecutive week of weather issues. Rain is expected to move into the all-encompassing region Friday.
  • Both teams won their respective games by three possessions last week.
  • Princeton is entering the gauntlet portion of its District 7-4A Division I schedule. Its league competition thus far has combined for a 1-8 record, and it visits fellow league leader Liberty-Eylau next week.
  • Pittsburg's district opponents face have gone 4-5 in their other games. The Pirates' regular season finale next week will be against Quinlan Ford, which is 1-7 overall.
  • Princeton is currently tied for first place within the district alongside Liberty-Eylau.
  • Pittsburg owns third place with a 2-1 district record -- the loss coming against Liberty-Eylau.
  • A Pirates win elevates the team into at least a tie for second place with Princeton. If Liberty-Eylau is upset by Paris North Lamar, Pittsburg will be tied with Princeton and Liberty-Eylau for first place.
  • Each district team will have one more game after this week's slate to break any ties.
  • Pittsburg, Liberty-Eylau and Princeton all appear to be safe bets for the playoffs. Paris and Quinlan Ford are still looking for their first district wins at the bottom of the standings. Paris North Lamar has a one-game advantage against the bottom tier, good enough to currently be in the playoff picture.
  • Princeton defeated the Pirates, 35-7, in Pittsburg last season.
Pittsburg defensive lineman Quinton Edney is part of a defensive front responsible for 104 tackles for loss. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Pittsburg's defensive front versus Princeton's high-octane offense.

Princeton is very two-dimensional on offense, so the Pirates will have to choose a defensive point to emphasize and try to force the opponent to become predictable on offense.

Senior linebacker Fre'zarrian Harrison is a great place for the Pirates to start. He's the No. 1 player within East Texas in tackles for loss with 29 on the season and he's tied for 13th in sheer tackles with 96 through eight games.

Harrison also trails the area's five sacks co-leaders by just one entering the game. He has six sacks.

The linebacker is exactly what the doctor ordered to disrupt Princeton's objectives, but Pittsburg's opposition has ways to work around the key defender and a handful of other standouts up front.

The Pirates can expect zone read options between running back Greg Flores, who has 1,317 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns, and 205-pound quarterback Colt Collins. The signal caller has 547 ground yards of his own.

Play action also will probably be utilized to confuse defenders.

Princeton has three receivers past the 300-yard mark while Collins has thrown for 1,277 yards this season.

But if Pittsburg can get a good pass rush and disrupt that phase of the offense, Princeton will probably be willing to let Flores try to win the game. It's still not the greatest situation for the East Texas team, Flores is a great high school player, but the Pirates should be in good position if the opposing offense is forced to downplay its passing game.

The Pirates have recorded 104 tackles for loss through eight games. Defensive tackles John Warrick and Oryan Fisher, defensive end Quinton Edney and middle linebacker Bobby Stroud also have double-digit tackles for loss numbers.

Don't be surprised if: The game lives up to the hype. There are some strong teams in the adjacent District 8-4A Division I. Finishing with the higher two seeds from District 7-4A Division I obviously increases the odds of finding a favorable matchup in the bi-district round of the playoffs. Pittsburg and Princeton know what's on the line in this game.

Pittsburg senior quarterback Brian Baca. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)