Undefeated Newton Next Test for Franklin Running Game in 2A D-I Region III Final
Class 2A Division I Region III
Newton Eagles (12-0)
Franklin Lions (10-2)
7:30 p.m. Friday
John Outlaw Memorial Field at Abe Martin Stadium, Lufkin
Newton: W.T. Johnston
Franklin: Mike Hedrick
Road To Regional Final
- Bi-district: bye
- Area: def. Teague, 68-17
- Regional semifinal: def. Grandview, 82-35
- Bi-district: bye
- Area: def. Winnie East Chambers, 34-14
- Regional semifinal: def. Tatum, 49-30
Next week: Winner plays Cameron Yoe (12-0) or Hallettsville (12-0) in a 2A Division I state semifinal.
- RB/DB Kevin Shorter, Jr. (121 carries, 1,485 yards, 27 TDs; 11 catches, 274 yards, 5 TDs; 51 tackles, 3 INTs, 1 fumble recovery)
- QB/DB D.J. Dean, Sr., 5-11, 180 (41 of 80, 932 yards, 10 TDs, 0 INTs; 72 carries, 953 yards, 18 TDs; 32 tackles, 4 INTs, 1 forced fumble; committed to Utah)
- RB Brandon Johnson, Jr. (143 carries, 1,030 yards, 16 TDs)
- LB Corey Jenkins, Sr. (141 tackles, 6 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovery)
- DE Anthony Hadnot, Jr. (92 tackles, 11 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, 2 recoveries, 1 kick block, 1 punt block)
- DB Roney Elam, Soph. (49 tackles, 5 INTs, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovery)
- OL/DL Zach Belcher, Sr. (100 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovery)
- RB Darius Floyd (29 carries, 250 yards, 3 TDs last week vs. Tatum)
- QB Dylan Smitherman
- DB Jacob Dorsett
- RB Morgan Brewer
- ATH Hayden Luhn (20 carries, 108 yards, 2 TDs last week vs. Tatum)
- DB Eric Hawkins
- RB Adam Lopez
Just the facts
- Newton averages 56.1 points and allows 12.1.
- Franklin averages averages 52.0 points and allows 28.9.
- Newton averages 381.2 rushing yards per game (83.3 passing).
- Franklin ran for almost 400 yards in last week's 49-30 win vs. Tatum.
- Newton has outscored its first two playoff opponents 150-52.
- Franklin has outscored its first two playoff opponents 83-44.
- Newton and Franklin have beaten Winnie East Chambers and Teague.
- Newton beat East Chambers (74-7) and Teague (68-17) by a combined 142-24.
- Franklin beat East Chambers (34-14) and Teague (64-50) by a combined 98-64.
Key matchup: Newton's defensive front vs. Franklin's running game. Both teams have potent ground games that have produced eye-popping statistics. Since Newton appears to be the favorite in this contest, Franklin's ability to sustain and finish drives to keep Newton's offense off the field is perhaps the most important aspect of this game. Newton will score points; there's no doubt about that. The Eagles have averaged 75 points in two playoff games. Therefore, Franklin must be able to match scores with the Eagles. Franklin bullied a strong Tatum defense last week, rushing for almost four bills to win by 19 points. Darius Floyd and Hayden Luhn have been the key ball carriers for the Lions. Floyd is the go-to guy and his 250 rushing yards against a stout Tatum defensive front are proof. Newton will rely on Anthony Hadnot, Zach Belcher, Corey Jenkins, and the rest of the front seven to contain Floyd at the first level. Even with athletes such as D.J. Dean and Kevin Shorter in the secondary, it's not smart to allow a speedster like Floyd into the second level. Can Franklin match scores with Newton? It'll be tough. But limiting the Eagles' possessions and maybe winning the turnover battle are Franklin's best bets at derailing the Newton train, which has been unstoppable to this point.
Don't be surprised if: Both teams have some success running the ball. These are two of the best ground games in Class 2A, and with players such as Dean, Shorter, Brandon Johnson, and Floyd toting the rock, there will be some big plays. But until anyone proves that Newton can be contained, it's hard to think the Eagles will fall. Franklin has already knocked off one East Texas power, but based on the scores we've seen, Newton is a different story. The scores from the two common opponents are interesting; Newton outscored Teague and East Chambers by 118 points, while Franklin outscored them by 34 points. That's a telling statistic. If Newton doesn't turn the ball over and continues to get the offensive execution it's had so far, containing Floyd and Luhn may not matter -- Franklin likely won't be able to match scores with the Eagles if that's the case.