Natchitoches Central Chiefs (3-1)

vs.

Texas High Tigers (3-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Tiger Stadium at Grim Park, Texarkana

 

Coach
  • Natchitoches Central: Brandon Helms
  • Texas High: Barry Norton

 

Last week
  • Natchitoches Central: won 25-6 vs. Shreveport Southwood
  • Texas High: won 27-7 vs. Kennedale (at Royse City ISD Stadium)

 

Next week
  • Natchitoches Central: at Ruston, La.
  • Texas High: at Pine Tree

 

Playmakers

Natchitoches Central

  • FS Conner Collins, Sr.
  • ILB Ryan DeMattie, Sr.
  • DL Jamal Joseph, Sr.
  • ILB Devonte Pier, Sr.
  • TE Deshon Ficklin, Jr.
  • WR Darian Raymond, Jr.
  • WR Reginald Turner, Jr.
  • QB Austin Guy, Soph.

 

Texas High

  • LB Anthony Rhone, Sr., 6-0, 210 (committed to SMU; 55 tackles)
  • RB Tre Walker, Sr., 5-9, 175 (80 carries, 395 yards, 2 TDs; 9 catches, 41 yards)
  • QB Kody Hunter (33 of 61, 467 yards, 6 TDs, 3 INTs; 6 rushing TDs)
  • WR/CB Kevin Harris, Sr., 6-1, 180 (3 catches, 108 yards, 2 TDs; 14 tackles 1 INT)
  • WR Jarion Anderson (5 catches, 111 yards, 1 TD)
  • WR Taylor Jackson, Sr. (6 catches, 92 yards, 2 TDs)
  • RB Javon Thomas (117 total yards, 1 TD)
  • DL Will Brown, Jr., 6-3, 285 (15 tackles)
  • OL Justin Lewis, Sr., 5-11, 275

 

Just the facts
  • Texas High and Natchitoches Central did not play last season.
  • Natchitoches Central is a Class 5A team in Louisiana with an enrollment of 1,361, which would be on the smaller end of Texas' Class 4A.
  • To compare, Texas High's enrollment is 1,956, making THS a large Texas 4A.
  • Texas High averages 27.5 points per game and allows 13.3.
  • Natchitoches Central averages 24.3 points per game and allows 13.5.
  • Texas High's only loss was 38-37 at home to Class 5A Tyler Lee on Sept. 21.
  • Natchitoches Central's lone loss was 28-19 at DeRidder on Sept. 13. DeRidder is a Louisiana Class 4A school with an enrollment of 793, which would be in the middle of Texas' Class 3A.
  • Outside of the loss to Tyler Lee, Texas High has outscored three other opponents 73-15.
  • Outside of the loss to DeRidder, Natchitoches Central has outscored three other foes 78-26.
  • Texas High is 3-1 for the first time since 2008, when the Tigers started the season 9-1 before a 35-10 second-round playoff loss to Waco Midway.

 

Key matchup: The defenses. Texas High and Natchitoches Central have proven in their first four games that they can play some serious defense. Which unit will get the upper hand Friday night?

Natchitoches Central features a veteran-laden defensive group that has scored three touchdowns in addition to limiting opponents to 13.5 points per game. The strength of the unit appears to be up the middle with several seniors in defensive tackle Jamal Joseph, linebackers Ryan DeMattie and Devonte Pier, and free safety Conner Collins.

Texas High LB Anthony Rhone. (Courtesy Texarkana Gazette)

Texas High has held its first four foes to slightly less than Central at 13.3 points per game. In the Tigers' three wins, they haven't yielded more than eights points.

Senior linebacker Anthony Rhone, who is committed to SMU, is the Tigers' defensive stalwart. He enters Friday's game averaging 13.8 tackles per game. Kevin Harris gives veteran head coach Barry Norton the type of big, athletic, and experienced defensive back that it's good to have on the perimeter.

Don't be surprised if: Friday's contest is not very high-scoring. Neither team averages more than 27 points per game and both feature strong defenses.

The game could come down to which team runs the ball better. If that's the case, Texas High probably likes its chances with senior Tre Walker, who's averaging about five yards per carry and 98.8 rushing yards per game.

Another strong performance from the Tiger defense would be a good sign considering Texas High's next four games in District 14-4A against spread opponents: at Pine Tree, vs. Sulphur Springs, at Mount Pleasant, at Marshall.