Tatum Eagles (1-1)

vs.

Liberty-Eylau Leopards (1-2)

7:30 p.m. Friday
Harris Field, Texarkana

Coaches
  • Tatum: Andy Evans
  • Liberty-Eylau: Steve Wells

 

Last week

 

Next week
  • Tatum: at Chapel Hill, Sept. 26
  • Liberty-Eylau: at Atlanta, Sept. 26

 

Playmakers

Tatum

  • RB/LB Kyshaun Smith, Sr., 6-1, 180 (1 carry, 13 yards; 26 tackles, 1 for loss)
  • RB/LB Devon Boyd, Sr., 5-10, 180 (11 carries, 95 yards; 26 tackles, 2 for loss, 2 forced fumbles)
  • QB J.D. Taylor, Jr., 6-2, 185 (7 of 12, 111 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs; 17 carries, 69 yards, 2 TDs)
  • ATH Chaston Brooks, Sr., 6-0, 190 (16 of 27, 240 yards, 4 TDs, 2 INTs; 13 carries, 50 yards, 1 TD; 9 tackles, 1 PBU)
  • WR Deyanta Roberson, Sr., 6-2, 190 (6 catches, 70 yards, 2 TDs)
  • WR Martin Williams, Sr., 6-3, 190 (8 catches, 102 yards)
  • DB Jordan Nelson, Sr., 6-0,  170 (24 tackles, 1 for loss, 1 INT, 3 PBU)
  • RB Denarius Earl, Jr., 5-6, 150 (7 carries, 68 yards; 2 catches, 70 yards)

 

Liberty-Eylau

  • RB Donelle Hoof, Sr., 5-5, 163
  • LB RIcky Jackson, Sr., 5-11, 232
  • DB Corey Braxton, Sr., 6-0, 160
  • WR Malcolm Gant, Sr., 6-0, 175
  • RB D.Q. Steels, Sr., 5-7, 165
  • LB Ricardo Lockett, Sr., 5-8, 185
  • QB Ke'mon Freeman, Jr., 5-10, 180
  • DB Thurman Morbley, Jr., 5-10, 150

 

Just the facts
  • This is the first-ever meeting between Tatum and Liberty-Eylau.
  • Tatum and Liberty-Eylau have each won two state championships since 1999. Tatum won titles in 2005 and 2006, while L-E won it all in 1999 and 2006.
  • Through two games Tatum is averaging 37 points and 355.5 yards per game -- 180 rushing and 175.5 passing.
  • After falling behind Gilmer 27-7 at halftime of last week's game, Tatum went on a 28-8 run to tie the game at 35-35 with 11:26 remaining in the fourth quarter.
  • Tatum finishes off its non-district schedule with games at Chapel Hill and at home against Hardin-Jefferson.
  • Through three games, Liberty-Eylau is averaging 24 points per game against Gilmer, Mount Pleasant and Arkansas High.
  • Liberty-Eylau finishes its non-district schedule next Friday at Atlanta.
  • Since allowing 55 points in its season to Gilmer, L-E has surrendered just 23 total in the last two weeks.

 

Tatum LB Devon Boyd. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Liberty-Eylau running game vs. Tatum defensive front. On paper, Friday night's matchup of these two teams may seem like a mismatch. Given the one common opponent, Gilmer, Tatum should be heavily favored. Liberty-Eylau suffered an ugly 55-16 loss to Gilmer in Week 1, while Tatum had to be put away in the final seconds by the Buckeyes last week. However, the Leopards have enjoyed marked improvement since the opener. L-E captured a convincing 43-7 win over Class 5A Mount Pleasant a week later, then came within three points of Arkansas High, which needed overtime to dispose of Texas High two weeks ago. In L-E's loss to Gilmer, the Leopards still managed to find success on the ground, finishing the night with 249 yards rushing. Four early turnovers proved costly, leading to a 42-0 Gilmer lead in the early stages of the second quarter. L-E not only lost two fumbles in the loss, it put the ball on the ground five other times, resulting in negative plays that often caused drives to stall. If the Leopards are able to take better care of the ball this week against Tatum, L-E's collection of backs -- led by running back Donelle Hoof and quarterback Ke'mon Freeman, might make the difference.

Liberty-Eylau's Donelle Hoof (right) tries to avoid the tackle of Gilmer's Kelton Collier (22) during the second half of their game Aug. 28 in Tyler. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

Tatum must guard against the Leoaprds' rushing prowess in order to come away with a big road victory. So far, the Eagles have allowed 448 rushing yards in two games with teams averaging 5.5 yards per attempt. Tatum will most likely need a better effort this week against an L-E offense that has struggled to have success through the air. In the Leopards' loss to Gilmer, Freeman completed just 2 of 13 passes and threw two interceptions. If Tatum can force L-E away from running the ball with regularity, the Eagles' defense stands a much better chance to have success. One thing is for sure: L-E's backs will have to contend with one of the best linebacking duos in the area. Tatum seniors Kyshaun Smith and Devon Boyd are tied for the team lead in tackles with 26, and have proven over the course of their high school careers to be disruptive forces against opposing offenses. Stopping L-E ball carriers before they reach the secondary will be a huge priority for Smith, Boyd and the entire Tatum defensive front.

Tatum QB J.D. Taylor. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Don't be surprised if: Friday night's game comes down to the fourth quarter. Liberty-Eylau will be energized by playing in front of its home crowd for the second time this season, while Tatum is away from home for the first time on the year. Despite last week's loss, L-E performed well and could use the last two weeks as confidence heading into the big non-district test. Tatum put up a valiant effort against mighty Gilmer last Friday night, only to come up short at the every end. Time will tell how the emotional loss will affect the Eagles. Some teams use the negative outcome as motivation for the next week, while some teams get caught in a funk hanging over from the previous game. Each team will be aiming for a strong start, one that they can use to springboard them for the rest of the contest. Another interesting element to the game will be how Tatum plans on using its quarterbacks Chaston Brooks and J.D. Taylor. Brooks got the start in the opener for the injured Taylor, and threw four touchdown passes in the Eagles' resounding defeat of Newton. Taylor got the call last week, and neither signal-caller was terribly effective as the two combined to go 7 of 16 passing for 112 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. It remains to be seen how Taylor and Brooks will be used this week, but Tatum coaches are hoping turnovers do not play a role in their line of thinking Friday night.