Center Roughriders (4-0)
vs.
No. 4 Tatum Eagles (3-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday
Eagle Stadium, Tatum

Coaches
Center: Kevin Goodwin
Tatum: Andy Evans

Last week
Center: def. Fairfield, 26-23 (OT)
Tatum: idle

Next week
Center: vs. Corrigan-Camden
Tatum: at Diboll

Playmakers
Center

  • RB K.J. Garrett, Sr., 5-9, 178 (68 carries, 513 yards, 4 TDs; 15 catches, 138 yards, 2 TDs)
  • QB Dalton Horton, Soph., 6-3, 190 (44 of 71, 698 yards, 6 TDs, 5 INTs; 1 rush TD)
  • LB Kiounis Williams, Jr., 5-10, 215 (59 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT, 2 forced fumbles, 1 recovery)
  • LB Derrick Thomas, Sr., 6-0, 222 (51 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 2 recoveries)
  • DB Johnny Shaw, Soph. (39 tackles, 2 INTs, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovery)
  • WR/DB DeJalen Preston, Jr., 6-0, 168 (6 catches, 113 yards, 1 TD; 26 tackles, 2 INTs, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovery)
  • LB Miquel Johnson III, Sr. (33 tackles, 2 fumble recoveries)

Tatum

  • QB Darian Brooks, Sr., 6-2, 200 (24 of 28, 435 yards, 4 TDs, 2 INTs)
  • RB Shaquille Johnson, Sr., 5-5, 155
  • LB Kiano Lucas, Sr., 6-0, 210
  • WR/DB Toby Henderson, Sr., 5-9, 180
  • ATH Javolick Garrett, Sr., 6-0, 180
  • OL/DL Darius Whiting, Sr., 6-0, 265
  • OL/DL Tristan Durden, Sr., 6-4, 292

Just the facts

  • Two of Center's four wins have come by three points -- a 33-30 season-opening victory against Buna and last week's 26-23 OT win against Fairfield
  • Center's average victory margin is 11.3 points
  • Tatum's average victory margin is 13.3 points
  • Center averages 32.0 points per game and allows 20.8
  • Tatum averages 34.3 points per game and allows 21.0
  • Running back K.J. Garrett has accounted for 42.1 percent of Center's offense (651 of 1,545 yards)
  • Since 1988, Tatum is 15-4-1 against Center, including a 10-game winning streak from 1997-2007
  • Center won the last meeting 42-21 in a 2009 Class 3A Division II Region III bi-district playoff

Key matchup: Center's linebackers vs. Tatum's skill position players. Center has one of the best groups of linebackers in East Texas and possibly in all of Class 3A. Tatum has quality, proven talent across the board at the skill positions, from QB Darian Brooks, to running back Shaq Johnson, to receivers/athletes C.J. Whitaker, Javolick Garrett, Toby Henderson, Klifton Willis and others. Center linebackers Derrick Thomas and Kiounis Williams, who leads East Texas in tackles, will be charged with stopping that group, which won't be an easy task.

Don't be surprised if: This game goes down to the fourth quarter. Center has proven it can win close games thanks to its pair of three-point victories, and Tatum has done the same, holding off Winnsboro and Pleasant Grove for its last two wins. Thomas and Williams aren't the only linebackers facing tough matchups in this game, though; Center tailback K.J. Garrett will be a difficult task to tackle for Tatum standout linebacker Kiano Lucas and company. It's hard to tell if this will be a high- or low-scoring game, so it'll probably land somewhere in the middle considering both teams average in the low 30's and hold their opponents to about three touchowns per game. Line play, as always, will be a huge factor, and Tatum may have the size edge in the trenches thanks to Darius Whiting, Tristan Durden, and others.