Tatum Faces Bullard In Class 4A D-II Playoff Opener
Class 4A Division II
Region II Bi-District Playoff
Tatum Eagles (5-5)
Bullard Panthers (7-3)
5:30 p.m. Saturday
Pine Tree's Pirate Stadium, Longview
- Tatum: Andy Evans
- Bullard: Shannon Wilson
- Winner plays Coldspring-Oakhurst vs. Lorena winner in Class 4A Division II area round.
- LB Kyshaun Smith, Sr., 6-1, 180 (94 tackles, 2 for loss)
- LB/RB Devon Boyd, Sr., 5-10, 180 (62 carries, 395 yards, 5 TDs, 10 catches, 135 yards, 1 TD; 54 tackles, 3 for loss, 2 PBU, 2 FF, 1 INT, 1 sack)
- WR Deyanta Roberson, Sr., 6-2, 190 (26 catches, 419 yards, 8 TDs)
- ATH Chaston Brooks, Sr., 6-0, 190 (42 of 77, 657 passing yards, 11 TDs, 5 INTs, 40 carries, 140 yards; 55 tackles, 1 for loss, 1 INT, 3 PBU)
- ATH J.D. Taylor, Jr., 6-2, 180 (40 of 79, 576 yards, 3 TDs, 4 INTs)
- DB Jordan Nelson, Sr., 6-0, 170 (70 tackles 1 INT)
- QB Connor Mebane, Sr., 6-0, 175 (69 of 134, 1,170 passing yards, 13 TDs, 5 INTs, 121 carries, 876 yards, 11 TDs)
- RB Brentavian Henderson, Sr., 5-11, 190 (103 carries, 862 yards, 10 TDs)
- WR Major Tennison, Soph., 6-5, 220 (24 catches, 453 yards, 6 TDs)
- FS Tray Crayton, Soph., 5-8, 170 (73 tackles, 2 INTs)
- DL Brandon Mullican, Jr., 6-2, 198 (30 tackles, 9 for loss, 1 sack)
Just the facts
- Bullard is back in the playoffs for the first time since the 2011 season.
- Tatum is a perennial playoff team, but the Eagles are trying advance in a higher classification this year. The team jumped from Class 2A to the new Class 4A whereas most teams in the division were 3A teams last season.
- Bullard is the No. 2 seed from District 5-4A Division II. Tatum finished league play as the third place team in District 6-4A Division II behind very strong Gladewater and Atlanta teams.
- Don't overlook Tatum's 5-5 overall record. The team gave Gilmer, by far, its best game of the season and won three of its last four games.
- Bullard has improved dramatically over the course of the season as its offense diversifies from all quarterback Connor Mebane brings to the table.
- The two teams share one common opponent, Gilmer. Tatum fell 41-35 in non-district play and Bullard lost to the Buckeyes 49-7 in league play. The Gilmer games were played seven weeks apart with Tatum getting the first shot.
- Pirate Stadium is 23 miles from Tatum's campus and 55 miles from Bullard High School.
Key matchup: Bullard's offense versus Tatum's defense. The Panthers will certainly want to get senior quarterback Connor Mebane going in order to back off an always athletic Eagles defense. Bullard's signal caller has 2,046 total yards and 24 scores this season. He leads the team in both passing and running.
Tatum entered the season with a handful of high-profile athletes on defense, but they have not jumped out on the stat sheet as much as anticipated. That being said, the Eagles could turn the corner any given week. Linebacker Kyshaun Smith, who holds offers from Houston, North Texas, Texas State and Memphis, leads the unit with 94 tackles.
The Eagles' defense will be best served by trying to force Mebane to lean toward one side of his skill set more than the other. He has completed 51.5 percent of his passes, so look for Tatum to give Bullard the pass versus guaranteed yardage running the ball.
Major Tennison has emerged for the Panthers as a go-to receiver. He has 24 receptions for six touchdowns and 453 yards to headline a group of three players with more than 200 receiving yards apiece. Jared Alsobrook and Drake Daly round out the top performers.
Don't be surprised if: Saturday's game is one of the best played in the region. Both teams have plenty of motivation. On the opposite side of the Region II bracket from Gilmer, the road to the regional championship game is wide open. With some momentum, who knows?
Both teams are athletic and fundamentally sound. There's not a lot that separates the two programs this season.