CLASS 2A DIVISION I QUARTERFINAL

Lovelady Lions (13-0)

vs.

Shelbyville Dragons (12-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Dragon Stadium, Nacogdoches

Coaches
  • Lovelady: Kerry Therwhanger
  • Shelbyville: Jason Ferguson
Last week
Next week
  • Winner faces winner between Refugio and Shiner, state semifinals
Playmakers

Lovelady

  • QB Lee Holsey, Jr., 6-0, 160
  • RB/DB Emanuel Williams, Sr., 5-10, 163
  • WR/DB Jacob Jeffus, Sr., 5-10, 165
  • WR/LB Hunter Murray, Sr., 6-0, 175
  • WR/DE Petey Little, Jr., 6-2, 192

Shelbyville

 

  • RB Octavian Burrell, Sr., 5-7, 200
  • DL Kal Metcalf, Sr., 6-0, 240
  • DL Riheam Jenkins, Sr.
  • RB/DB Terrell Cartwright, Jr.
  • DB Isaiah Stansberry, Sr.
  • QB Ta’Vion Barnes, Jr., 6-0, 170
  • OL Kawon McCowin, Soph.
  • OL Logan Jefferson, Soph.

 

Just the facts
  • Shelbyville has improved in each of head coach Jason Ferguson's three seasons as the program leader and finds itself in the state quarterfinals two years removed from a 3-7 season.
  • Lovelady reached the state quarterfinals round by knocking out the Dragons' District 10-2A Division I rival, Beckville, last week on the final play of the game for a 27-26 win.
  • Shelbyville and Lovelady share four common opponents. The teams were Beckville, Centerville, Colmesneil and San Augustine.
  • The Dragons defeated the competition by a combined score of 193-59. Lovelady won the four comparable games, 196-68.
  • Refugio and Shiner, which the winner of Friday's game will meet, have combined for three state championship appearances since 2010.
  • Shelbyville will travel 57 miles to Nacogdoches' Dragon Stadium. Lovelady's drive will be 73 miles.

Key matchup: Shelbyville's defense versus Lovelady's multi-threat offense.

Lovelady ran the rock at Beckville about 66 percent of the time in last week's Class 2A Division I regional semifinal game, but quarterback Lee Holsey and the receiving corps created explosive plays to the tune of 146 yards and two touchdowns on 11 catches.

The Dragons' defense, which has never allowed more than 26 points in a game this season, will put the team in a position to win if it can make Lovelady more one-dimmensional. Especially if the dimension Lovelady has to fall back on is the pass.

Throwing plays are much more complex because they require a good throw, a good route by the receiver and a catch to finish it off. Any failure results in an incomplete pass or, in a worst-case scenario, an interception. Running plays are simply taking the football and finding open space and are much more likely to generate positive yardage on any given play, increasing the percentage of extending drives.

Shelbyville is in good position across its defense to compete with Lovelady. With defensive linemen the size of Kal Metcalf and Riheam Jenkins, however, it's worth a shot to go right after Lovelady's running game and persuade its offense to lean on its second option -- the pass.

Most of Lovelady's offensive linemen are under 200 pounds. Those guys will probably have to double-team the two big Shelbyville defensive linemen, which frees up other players in the defensive front to make a play on the ball carrier.

Dragons defensive backs Terrell Cartwright and Isaiah Stanberry are favorable matchups against Lovelady's passing game.

 

Don't be surprised if: Friday's game is a classic. There's not a great deal of depth at the Class 2A Division I level across the state and the playoffs help the absolute best teams find each other for the best games of the season. Shelbyville has only had two games decided by one possession. Lovelady had never been pushed until last week. But since both teams have now faced a little adversity, they both should have the fortitude to hang in the game if they catch a few bad breaks.