White Oak Hopes to Continue Impressive Run When ‘Necks Face Unbeaten Franklin in Regional Final
Class 2A Division I Region III
White Oak Roughnecks (12-1)
No. 6 Franklin Lions (13-0)
7:30 p.m. Friday
Wildcat Stadium, Palestine
- White Oak: Gerry Stanford
- Franklin: Mike Hedrick
- White Oak: won 55-36 vs. Newton
- Franklin: won 28-14 vs. Godley
- Winner plays Cameron Yoe or Hallettsville in a 2A Division I state semifinal.
- QB Dylan Gale, Sr., 5-8, 165 (181 of 306, 3,192 yards, 33 TDs, 2 INTs; 78 carries, 94 yards, 7 TDs; )
- RB/LB Riley Lakin, Sr. (242 carries, 1,503 yards, 22 TDs; 8 catches, 56 yards, 2 TDs)
- WR/DB Jansen McCurdy, Sr., 6-0, 165 (50 catches, 1,465 yards, 19 TDs; 22 tackles, 4 INTs, 6 PBU, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovery)
- WR Gabe Michael, Sr., 6-1, 175 (48 catches, 682 yards, 6 TDs)
- WR/DB Cass Carr, Sr. (40 catches, 470 yards, 2 TDs; 65 tackles, 3 for loss, 3 INTs, 1 PBU, 2 forced fumble, 3 recoveries)
- S Jake Pullen, Jr. (171 tackles, 3 for loss, 2 forced fumbles, 9 PBU)
- WR/DE Hayden Nichols, Sr., 6-3, 215 (22 catches, 367 yards, 5 TDs; 40 tackles, 20 for loss, 7 sacks, 3 PBU)
- WR/DB Josh Benson, Sr. (14 catches, 239 yards, 1 TD; 20 tackles, 2 for loss, 3 INTs, 8 PBU, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovery)
- OL/DL Jason Heim, Sr., 6-1, 260 (71 tackles, 11 for loss, 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 4 recoveries, 1 PBU)
- DT Dee Sutton, Sr., 5-11, 260 (66 tackles, 4 for loss, 1 sack)
- RB Morgan Brewer, Jr. (228 carries, 2,416 yards, 28 TDs)
- RB/LB Adam Lopez, Jr. (94 carries, 862 yards, 12 TDs; 57 tackles, 4 for loss, 4 QB pressures, 1 forced fumble, 3 recoveries, 2 INTs, 5 PBU, 3 def. TDs)
- RB Stephen Commander, Soph. (126 carries, 722 yards, 13 TDs)
- RB Tyler Henson, Sr. (65 carries, 427 yards, 3 TDs)
- RB Todd Johnson, Jr. (71 carries, 466 yards, 7 TDs)
- WR/DB Will Phillips, Soph. (62 carries, 360 yards, 8 TDs; 9 catches, 200 yards, 3 TDs; 80 tackles, 7 for loss, 3 sacks, 13 QB pressures, 2 forced fumbles, 2 recoveries, 3 INTs, 2 PBU, 3 def. TDs)
- QB Dillon Smitherman, Jr. (19 of 36, 423 yards, 7 TDs, 0 INT)
- OL/DL Zac Short, Sr. (114 tackles, 10 for loss, 3 sacks, 12 QB pressures, 1 forced fumble, 2 recoveries, 2 INTs, 5 PBU)
- DB Seth Kissinger, Sr. (53 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 3 INTs, 7 PBU)
- DB Jared Burnett, Jr. (70 tackles, 4 INTs, 5 PBU)
Just the facts
- White Oak averages 42.1 points and 406.5 yards per game -- 152 rushing and 254.5 passing.
- For the season, White Oak has run 731 plays from scrimmage for an average of 7.2 yards per snap.
- Since a 42-21 loss to Tatum on Oct 11, White Oak has outscored opponents by an average score of 47-16.
- White Oak's defense, which allows just 13.8 points per game, has allowed more than 20 points in a game twice all season -- its loss to Tatum and its 55-36 playoff win over Newton last week.
- The cumulative record of White Oak's 13 opponents is 74-68.
- White Oak is one win from tying the school record for victories in a season, set by the 1970 team.
- The Roughnecks have won at least 12 games in a season nine times in their history -- 1942, 1946, 1947, 1957 (state finalist), 1960, 1969, 1970, 1971 and 2013.
- Franklin averages 48.5 points and 463.9 yards per game -- 431.2 rushing and 32.7 passing.
- For the season, Franklin has run 762 plays from scrimmage for an average of 7.9 yards per snap.
- During the playoffs, Franklin is averaging 37.3 points and 407.7 yards per game -- 361 rushing and 46.6 passing.
- Since the postseason began, Franklin has run 157 plays from scrimmage for an average of 7.8 yards per snap.
- The cumulative record of Franklin's 13 opponents is 60-79.
- Newton defeated Franklin in last year's 2A D-I Region III final, 49-13.
- Franklin is in the playoffs for the sixth consecutive year, having compiled a 55-16 record since 2008.
Key matchup: Franklin offensive line vs. White Oak defensive front. For the third consecutive week, White Oak's defense will face a stern test from an offense known for piling up the points in bunches. Two weeks ago, the Roughnecks held a high-powered Grandview offense that came in averaging 54.5 points to just 14. And last week, White Oak contained a Newton offense that was coming off a 74-point outburst to only 36 points. Franklin's offense is similar to Newton's in that the Lions get their production almost exclusively on the ground. Franklin has attempted just 36 passes all season and 93 percent of its total yardage comes on the ground. White Oak's run 'D' faired well against Grandview by holding the Zebras to just 120 rushing yards, but allowed more than 400 yards to Newton. White Oak will probably need a better defensive performance this week to come out on top.
Junior running back Michael Brewer is the primary ball carrier for Franklin with more than 2,400 yards and 28 touchdowns on the season. Brewer has two 300-yard games and five 200-yard performances to his credit this year. In the playoffs, he has rushed for 653 yards and six touchdowns. Brewer is one of six rushers with at least 360 yards on the year for a Franklin rushing attack that has not been held to less than 300 rushing yards in a game all season long. The Lions have eclipsed the 500-yard mark in three games in 2013, including their 693-yard performance against Crockett during district play. Franklin has not attempted more than five passes in a game all year, including a 55-0 win over Riesel on Sept. 6 in which the Lions did not attempt a single pass.
Obviously, a big key will be how well White Oak's defensive front holds up against the Franklin offensive line and powerful running game. Much like its offense, White Oak's defense, which has accumulated 97 tackles for loss, is full of playmakers. Hayden Nichols, Kris Layman and Jason Heim anchor a big and athletic defensive line, while leading tackler Jake Pullen provides excellent run support from his safety position. If Franklin's offensive line is able to get solid push up front, it will be important for the Roughnecks' group of linebackers to crash down and not let Franklin's backs loose into the secondary.
Don't be surprised if: White Oak's defense sells out against the run. It's quite apparent that Franklin has no intention of throwing the ball, so if the Roughnecks can keep Franklin from consistently moving the chains with its ground-and-pound offensive approach, that will provide more opportunities for quarterback Dylan Gale and the White Oak offense to do what it does best: move the ball with remarkable efficiency and score with big plays in the passing game. Not many quarterbacks can lay claim to Gale's touchdown-to-interception ratio of 33-to-2. More than half of Gale's touchdown passes have gone to big-play receiver Jansen McCurdy, who's averaging 29.3 yards per catch. When Gale isn't taking to the air, he's handing off to running back Riley Lakin, who has rushed for more than 1,500 yards and 22 touchdowns on the year. But in order for White Oak to take advantage of its offensive weapons, its defense must do the job of keeping Franklin from doing what it does best: dominating time of possession.