Class 3A Division II

Region II Semifinals

Howe Bulldogs (7-5)

Vs.

Waskom Wildcats (11-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday
Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium, Tyler

 

Coaches
  • Howe: Zack Hudson
  • Waskom: Whtiney Keeling

 

Last week

 

Next week
  • Winner plays Gunter-S&S Consolidated winner, Region II championship

 

Playmakers

Howe

  • RB Anthony Hawthorne, Sr., 5-11, 175 (5 TDs, 229 rushing yards, 29 carries vs. Hughes Springs, 26 total TDs)
  • RB Brandon Wall, Fr. (2 TDs, 150 yards, 10 carries vs. Hughes Springs)

 

Waskom

  • RB/DB Kevin Johnson, Sr., 5-10, 160
  • RB June Bug Johnson, Sr., 5-7, 135
  • QB Trace Carter, Sr., 6-3, 175
  • FB Dillon Benton, Sr., 5-10, 170
  • LB Mike Reason, Jr., 5-9, 170
  • DB Eric Stephens, Jr., 5-6, 140
  • LB Chan Amie, Jr., 5-11, 160
  • OL Kyle Adams, Sr., 6-4, 285
  • OL John Lumpkin, Sr., 6-0, 205
  • DB Keilon Johnson, Jr., 5-8, 140

 

Just the facts
  • Waskom is seeking its second straight appearance in a regional championship game. The program finished 4-6 two years ago and has only lost three games since.
  • Howe has not reached a regional semifinal game since the 1990 season and finished last year 3-7.
  • The Class 3A Division II Region II playoffs have played out uniquely. Only District 5-3A Division II teams and District 8-3A Division II teams reached the area round.
  • If Waskom beats Howe, that trend will continue for another week. If Howe gets the win, it will rematch either Gunter or S&S Consolidated from its own district.
  • District 5-3A Division II, Howe's league, has three of the four teams still alive in the Region II chace. The Bulldogs eliminated Waskom's district mate Hughes Springs last week.
  • Arp and Elysian Fields, teams from Waskom's District 8-3A Division II, were alive and lost to Gunter and S&S Consolidated, respectively, in the last round by a combined eight points.
  • Waskom defeated Arp and Elysian Fields in the regular season by 33 points combined.
  • Howe played Leonard as part of its district schedule. It lost, 27-21.
  • Two weeks later, last Friday, Waskom beat Leonard by 20 points.
  • Waskom has not lost to a Class 3A team all season. Its only defeat came in the season opener to Center of Class 4A by a 28-20 score.

 

Waskom defensive back Eric Stephens III will have a role backing up the defensive front for runs that break through the first two levels. Howe attempted just two passes for no yards last week against Hughes Springs. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Waskom defense versus Howe's ground game. The Wildcats' regional semifinal opponent almost never throws the ball and works out of a slot-T formation. Offenses don't get more run-oriented than Howe's, but it has worked out extremely well through two playoff games behind a strong offensive line and cast of lead blockers. The team attempted two passes against Hughes Springs, both incomplete, in its 50-32 win.

Bulldogs running backs Anthony Hawthorne, a senior, and Brandon Wall, a freshman, cut up Hughes Springs last week. Hughes Springs had a 16-7 lead after one quarter and got taken for 30 points in the second period.

Middle linebacker Chan Amie, the ETSN.fm/Dairy Queen Defensive Player of the Week, and a defensive unit that allows about 20.5 points per game should be the pure run offense's biggest challenge yet. With an excellent defensive backfield for the level, Howe should not be able to break many long runs.

Waskom has pretty much seen it all. It did a decent job containing Arp's star running back Marcalas Johnson in a 34-24 win, worked through more balanced offenses in district play and kept Frankston's pass-heavy offense in check while nearly doubling it up.

Waskom running back Kevin Johnson is one of four players in the Wildcats backfield that recorded more than 1,000 rushing yards last season. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

The Wildcats are on a different level offensively at the skill positions. Junebug Johsnon, the ETSN.fm/Dairy Queen Offensive Player of the Week, scored on four of his six carries in last week's win and added a 60-yard receiving touchdown. Fellow running back, and Junebug Johnson's cousin, Kevin Johnson as well as fullback Dillon Benton and quarterback Trace Carter all broke 1,000 yards rushing in last season's 15-game campaign.

The Bulldogs' defense averages about 23 points per game. Leonard's defense gave up 17.75 points until last week and allowed a season-worst 52 points to Waskom last week. Howe put up 21 points on Leonard in the regular season two weeks beforehand.

If Waskom slows down Howe's run, the score could get very ugly.

Don't be surprised if: the bi-district battle continues on to the next round. Waskom has an extremely experienced team that is hungry for a state title after reaching the state semifinals last season.

Howe will have to hang onto the ball, play at a slow pace and manage to score touchdowns to limit the Wildcats' offensive impact. If Waskom's defense shuts down the Bulldogs' offense early, it's going to be a long night in Tyler.

Waskom quarterback Trace Carter. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)