DISTRICT 8-3A DIVISION II

Waskom Wildcats (7-0, 4-0)

vs.

West Rusk Raiders (7-0, 4-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Bruce Bradshaw Stadium, New London

Coaches
  • Waskom: Whitney Keeling
  • West Rusk: John Frazier
Last week
  • Waskom: def. Winona, 59-21
  • West Rusk: def. Elysian Fields, 53-49
Next week
  • Waskom: at Troup, Oct. 30
  • West Rusk: at Frankston, Oct. 30

Playmakers

Waskom

 

  • RB/LB Chan Amie, Sr., 5-11, 175
  • LB Mike Reason, Sr., 5-8, 170
  • DB Eric Stephens III, Sr., 5-8, 150
  • RB/DB Keileon Johnson, Sr., 5-10, 165
  • QB Dylan Harkrider, Sr., 6-3, 180
  • QB/DB Logan Hughes, Jr., 6-1, 185
  • DB Kaleb Haynes, Sr., 5-9, 170
  • LB Lucas Norton, Sr., 5-8, 160

 

West Rusk

 

  • QB Dee Starling, Sr., 6-2, 190 (56-92, 1,007 passing yards, 17 TDs, 7 INTs, 28 carries, 207 yards,)
  • RB Nick Ballard, Sr., 5-10, 220 (133 carries, 1,131 yards, 10 TDs)
  • WR/DB Breyon Thurman, Sr., 6-4, 165 (13 catches, 397 yards, 6 TDs; 32 tackles, 1 INT)
  • WR/DB D.J. Hicks, Sr., 5-9, 160 (19 catches, 397 yards, 5 TDs, 27 carries, 239 yards, 2 TDs; 27 tackles, 1 INT)
  • LB Joe Wright, Sr., 6-0, 225 (99 tackles, 10 for loss, 3 sacks, 1 INT)
  • LB Jacob Waller, Jr., 5-11, 190 (72 tackles, 8 for loss, 1 fumble recovery)
  • WR/DB Kevin Jones, Jr., 6-3, 175 (20 catches, 287 yards, 7 TDs; 50 tackles, 7 INTs, 2 forced fumbles)
  • DL Matthew Davidson, Soph., 5-6, 220 (36 tackles, 10 for loss, 1 INT)

 

Just the facts
  • Friday's game pits the final unbeaten District 8-3A Division II teams together.
  • Waskom is on an active 22-game winning streak.
  • West Rusk was 1-6 this time last season.
  • The Wildcats enter the meeting ranked No. 6 in the Associated Press' Class 3A poll.
  • The Raiders received one vote and could be considered the Associated Press' No. 16 team alongside Cisco from West Texas.
  • West Rusk defensive back Kevin Jones leads all of East Texas with seven interceptions in seven games. He recorded three in the Raiders' five-point win against Elysian Fields last week for ETSN.fm + Dairy Queen Defensive Player of the Week.
  • Waskom is averaging 52.5 points per game against district competition while the Raiders' defense has allowed an average 24.5 points in the same span.
  • The Wildcats and Raiders share two common opponents, Elysian Fields and Winona.
  • Waskom defeated Elysian Fields on the road, 45-0, on Sept. 25. It defeated Winona, 59-21 last week at home.
  • West Rusk topped Winona in New London, 28-21, on Oct. 9 and defeated Elysian Fields, 53-48, last week on the road.
  • Bring an umbrella to Bruce Bradshaw Stadium. There's an 80 percent chance of rain Friday evening. Lightning isn't out of the question.
  • Keep an eye out for a date change. A few East Texas schools preemptively moved their upcoming games to Thursday. Saturday is also an option for these two teams.
  • The last time West Rusk managed its way to an 8-0 start, in 2011, the team reached the regional semifinals.
Waskom's Chan Amie, an All-State linebacker, has also softened the blow of losing star running backs Kevin Johnson and June Bug Johnson from last year's state championship team. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Waskom's ground game against Wesk Rusk's defense. Strength against strength.

The Raiders' defense came up with critical plays last week against a good Elysian Fields team for their narrow win. Namely, safety Kevin Jones recorded three interceptions against an opposing offensive unit that is better built to pass than most of the other teams in the district.

Waskom will be hesitant to throw regularly, especially if it does indeed rain Friday evening. The Wildcats' absolute offensive strength is their stable of running backs -- headlined by senior Chan Amie.

West Rusk's defense should feel more at home against Waskom. The Raiders have 61 tackles for loss through seven games in addition to seven sacks. Not to mention 13 forced fumbles as part of 25 takeaways.

Senior linebacker Joe Wright headlines the defensive front for West Rusk. His first tackle against Waskom will be his 100th of the season.

Jones anchors the secondary.

Yet Waskom has the ability to win the game even if it has to lean exclusively on one side of the ball.

The Wildcats lead their league against district opponents in points per game and points allowed per game. West Rusk ranks third on both sides of the ball, albeit trailing Arp by just one point on offense.

Don't be surprised if: Turnovers play a role in determining the winner. West Rusk's turnover margin, plus-11, is outstanding. But Waskom is opportunistic as well. Additionally, Mother Nature might have a trick up her sleeve with a storm system barreling toward East Texas. Taking care of a slick ball could be the biggest difference maker in this game.

West Rusk quarterback Dee Starling. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)