Undefeated Athens Draws Tough First-Round Challenge With Chapel Hill
Class 3A Division I Region II Bi-District Playoff
Chapel Hill Bulldogs (6-4)
Athens Hornets (10-0)
7:30 p.m. Friday
Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium, Tyler
- Chapel Hill: Thomas Sitton
- Athens: Paul Essary
- Chapel Hill: idle
- Athens: won 56-13 vs. Brownsboro
- Winner plays Paris or Crandall in a 3A Division I area-round playoff
- RB/LB Wesley Thompson, Sr., 6-1, 185 (84 carries, 707 yards, 10 TDs; 7 catches, 41 yards; 90 tackles, 11 for loss, 1 sack, 2 QB pressures, 1 forced fumble, 3 pass break-ups)
- QB Andrew Black, Sr., 6-1, 180 (145 of 263, 2,070 yards, 21 TDs, 11 INTs; 97 carries, 777 yards, 13 TDs)
- WR/DB Gabriel Robinson, Sr., 5-8, 160 (42 catches, 863 yards, 11 TDs; 45 tackles, 4 INTs, 3 pass break-ups, 1 forced fumble)
- WR Jeffery Minor, Jr., 6-0, 170 (29 catches, 332 yards, 3 TDs; 7 carries, 81 yards, TD)
- OL/DL Keith Minor, Sr., 6-3, 237 (97 tackles, 13 for loss, 4 sacks, 1 QB pressure, 2 forced fumbles, 2 recoveries)
- OL/DL Shaquille Warren, Sr., 6-3, 235 (69 tackles, 15 for loss, 7 sacks, 2 QB pressures, 2 fumble recoveries)
- DL Kevone Kennedy, Sr., 6-2, 230 (61 tackles, 11 for loss, 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble)
- DB Deundre Phillips, Soph. (77 tackles, 2 for loss, 2 INTs, 6 pass break-ups, 3 forced fumbles)
- RB/LB Jesse Mumphrey, Sr., 5-9, 175 (60 carries, 451 yards, 8 TDs; 52 tackles, 7 for loss, 1 sack, 2 forced fumbles, 3 recoveries, 1 pass break-up)
- LB Caleb Bragg, Sr., 5-11, 190 (87 tackles, 4 for loss, 3 sacks, 1 QB pressure, 1 INT, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovery)
- WR/LB Chris Jefferson, Sr., 6-2, 200 (committed to SMU; 9 catches, 147 yards, 4 TDs; 31 tackles, 7 sacks, 1 forced fumble)
- LB K.J. Cumby, Sr., 6-1, 215 (90 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 INTs, 3 forced fumbles, 2 recoveries)
- FB Logan Fuller, Soph. (215 carries, 1,540 yards, 25 TDs)
- RB Devin Hall, Jr. (167 carries, 1,180 yards, 13 TDs)
- QB/DB Anthony Sanders, Sr., 6-0, 185 (25 of 58, 440 yards, 8 TDs, 0 INTs; 61 carries, 528 yards, 5 TDs; 42 tackles, 1 sack, 2 INTs, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovery)
- WR/DB Travon Fuller, Soph. (11 catches, 248 yards, 2 TDs; 48 tackles, 7 INTs, 1 forced fumble)
- LB Adam Stallings, Sr., 5-9, 220 (67 tackles, 3 sacks, 3 fumble recoveries)
- DL Chris Prox, Jr., 6-2, 200 (66 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble)
- RB LaDarius Jordan, Jr., 5-6, 165 (51 carries, 440 yards, 3 TDs)
- LB Tim Tanner, Jr., 6-1, 180 (56 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 2 recoveries, 1 INT)
Just the facts
- The last two times Chapel Hill made the playoffs, the Bulldogs ultimately reached the state championship game.
- Chapel Hill and Athens have met 31 times, dating back to 1971. Chapel Hill leads the all-time series, 17-12-2.
- The Bulldogs are averaging 43.2 points and 491.1 yards per game.
- Chapel Hill's defense has 78 tackles for loss and 23 sacks on the season.
- The Bulldogs have run 626 plays from scrimmage with an average of 7.8 yards per snap.
- Chapel Hill's losses have to teams with a cumulative record of 37-2 -- Whitehouse (No. 4 in 4A), Carthage (No. 7 in 3A), Gilmer (No. 4 in 3A) and Kilgore (No. 2 in 3A).
- Chapel Hill has outscored the opposition by an average score of 54-22 in its six wins.
- Athens is 10-0 for the first time in school history. The Hornets are one win away from tying the school for wins in a season; Athens was 11-3 in 2010.
- Under head coach Paul Essary, Athens is 34-22. In the previous five years, the Hornets were just 16-35.
- Athens is averaging 44.4 points and 448.5 yards per game -- 402.5 on the ground.
- The Hornets have run 616 plays from scrimmage for an average of 7.3 yards per snap.
- The cumulative record of Athens' opponents is 40-60. The Hornets beat two teams -- Kaufman and Palestine -- with a winning record.
Key matchup: Athens running game vs. Chapel Hill defensive front. The Hornets feature one of the area's most productive rushing attacks, led by the trio of sophomore fullback Logan Fuller, junior tailback Devin Hall and senior quarterback Anthony Sanders. The three of them have accounted for 81 percent of Athens' rushing yardage and scored 43 of the team's 49 rushing touchdowns. Athens runs the ball 90 percent of time, so there's no secret what the Hornets' game plan will be Friday night.
The fewest amount of yards Athens rushed for in a game this season was 283 in its season-opening win over Kaufman, so the Chapel Hill defense will have its hands full in slowing down a running game that's yet to be stopped this season. The Hornets enter Friday's game coming off their best rushing performance of the season -- a 527-yard effort in a 56-13 win over Brownsboro last Friday. Hall and Fuller each went over 200 yards in the big win, which capped the first undefeated regular season in school history.
The strength of Chapel Hill's defense all season long has been its line play, led by the senior trio of Keith Minor, Shaquille Warren and Kevone Kennedy. Winning the battle up front will be a huge key for Chapel Hill, whose defense has struggled at times against the run -- most notably in losses to Gilmer and Kilgore. As a team, Chapel Hill has registered 78 tackles for loss. Expect linebackers Wesley Thompson, Caleb Bragg and Jesse Mumphrey to creep up to the line of scrimmage in run support. Athens' scheme on offense is based out of the Wing-T formation, an offense rarely seen in this day and age in Texas. The offense puts pressure on opposing defenses by forcing defenders to remain disciplined in their gap assignments. One missed assignment can lead to big plays for the ball carrier. Chapel Hill's defense has been classified as aggressive, but remaining disciplined will be key for the Bulldogs defensively. Chapel Hill, which was off last week, has had an extra week to prepare for Athens, which can only help.
Don't be surprised if: Chapel Hill tries to hit a couple of big passing plays down the field early. The longer the game remains close, the more likely Athens' ground-and-pound attack will begin wearing on the Chapel Hill defense, which features a handful of two-way starters. Bulldogs quarterback Andrew Black is averaging 258 passing yards over his last five games, and 15 of his 21 touchdown passes have come in Chapel Hill's last five contests. Senior receiver Gabriel Robinson has developed into a major threat in the Chapel Hill passing game, having eclipsed the 100-yard mark in three of his last four games. If Black and Robinson are on their game again Friday, it could make for a long night for the Athens defense, which also must contend with a rushing attack that's averaging 284 yards per game.