Wide-Open Mount Pleasant Offense Faces No. 5 Kilgore’s Vaunted Defense
Mount Pleasant Tigers (3-0)
No. 5 Kilgore Bulldogs (2-0)
7:30 p.m. Friday
R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium, Kilgore
- Mount Pleasant: Mart Graham
- Kilgore: Mike Wood
- Mount Pleasant: vs. Atlanta
- Kilgore: at Spring Hill
- WR K.D. Cannon, Sr., 6-0, 160 (committed to Baylor; 20 catches, 397 yards, 8 TDs)
- RB T.L. Taylor, Sr., 5-10, 155 (72 carries, 545 yards, 5 TDs)
- QB Cullen Grubbs, Sr., 6-0, 200 (55 of 87, 883 yards, 13 TDs, 3 INTs)
- WR Andrew Flanagan, Sr., 6-0, 196 (14 catches, 240 yards, 2 TDs)
- CB Ladarius Craddock, Sr., 5-9, 175 (2 INTs)
- WR Jaquille Rodgers, Jr.
- DE T'Nheous Smith, Sr., 6-1, 224
- ATH Aaron Foy, Sr., 5-11, 165 (4 carries, 154 yards, 2 TDs; 2 catches, 99 yards, 2 TDs; 7 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT)
- QB Benny Colbert, Sr., 5-9, 175 (6 of 11, 138 yards, 2 TDs; 8 carries, 25 yards)
- RB Davieonta "JuJu" Brown, Sr. (24 carries, 192 yards, 4 TDs)
- RB Kevrin Justice, Jr., 5-11, 170 (13 carries, 166 yards, 3 TDs)
- RB Jacobie Vidal (15 carries, 108 yards, 1 TD)
- LB Kris Haynes, Jr. (20 tackles, 1 for loss)
- DT LaDarrin Anthony, Sr., 6-0, 257 (15 tackles, 4 for loss, 1 sack)
- DB Jeffrey Sanders (14 tackles, 1 for loss, 1 INT)
- S Jake Brantley, Sr., 5-10, 185 (17 tackles, 1 for loss)
- OL Clay Wiley, Sr., 6-2, 285
Just the facts
- Kilgore holds a 15-8-1 advantage against Mount Pleasant since 1980.
- The Bulldogs, who won last year's meeting 38-6 at Mount Pleasant, have won 11 of the last 12 encounters.
- Kilgore is ranked No. 5 in the latest Associated Press Class 3A poll.
- Kilgore senior Aaron Foy has touched the ball six times on offense and scored on four of those touches.
- Foy enters Friday's game against Mount Pleasant averaging 42.2 yards per touch.
- Foy's touchdown runs are each 70 yards, while his touchdown receptions covered 48 and 41 yards, respectively.
- Foy, JuJu Brown, Kevrin Justice, and Jacobie Vidal have combined for 719 yards from scrimmage and 12 total touchdowns on only 58 touches in Kilgore's first two games. That's an average of 12.4 yards per touch.
- Kilgore averages 325.5 rushing yards per game (71.0 passing yards, 396.5 total).
- Kilgore averages 9.3 yards per rush, while the Bulldogs have held their first two opponents to 2.8 yards per rush (65.0 rushing yards per game).
- Kilgore has held its first two opponents to 236.5 total yards per game.
- Mount Pleasant senior receiver K.D. Cannon, who is committed to Baylor and holds about 30 college offers, enters Friday's game averaging 19.9 yards per reception.
- Mount Pleasant senior quarterback Cullen Grubbs threw nine touchdown passes in last week's 77-34 road rout of Terrell, which tied him for second place in single-game touchdown passes in state history.
- Mount Pleasant senior running bak T.L. Taylor, who accounted for 1,006 total yards last season, already has a 258-yard rushing performance under his belt as a senior and averages 7.6 yards per carry.
- Kilgore has outscored its first two opponents 98-14.
- Mount Pleasant has outscored its first three opponents 151-71.
Key matchup: Mount Pleasant defensive front vs. Kilgore running game. Mount Pleasant possesses one of the most explosive offensive attacks in East Texas. Cullen Grubbs has taken to the starting quarterback job with no ill effects after replacing standout Montravious James. Grubbs' nine touchdown passes a week in a 43-point blowout of Terrell are enough evidence of that.
But to give that offense, which features a bevy of veteran playmakers such as Baylor-bound K.D. Cannon, running back T.L. Taylor, and receiver Andrew Flanagan, the opportunities it needs to put points on the board, it must have the ball.
That's where Kilgore's offense comes in. Kilgore is renowned for its smothering defense, which through two games is living up the high expectations placed upon it entering the season. In last week's 56-7 rout, Kilgore stifled a Pine Tree offense averaging 53.0 points in its first two games. But sometimes the best defense is a good offense, and Kilgore definitely has an offense that reflects its physical, punishing, defense-first attitude. The Bulldogs average 325.5 rushing yards per game with a stable of capable ball carriers.
Mount Pleasant must get a stellar performance from its defensive line and linebackers, who will need to get Kilgore off the field on third downs. The fewer third-down conversions for Kilgore, the more chances for the Tigers' potent offense. If Kilgore maintains drives and gets downhill with its running game, that will definitely put Mount Pleasant behind the 8-ball.
Don't be surprised if: The contrast in styles from these two teams gives fans plenty of entertainment Friday night at R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium.
The old cliche of a game being a "battle of wills" probably applies in this case. Which team will dictate the tempo of the game? Can Kilgore push around another opponent with its quality line play on both sides of the ball, disrupting Mount Pleasant's offensive timing with an aggressive front four and preventing the Tigers' offense from getting in rhythm with the Bulldogs' running game? Or will Mount Pleasant get Kilgore's offense off the field and give the Tigers as many snaps as possible to find a weak spot in the Kilgore defense -- something that's very hard to find -- enough times to give Mount Pleasant a shot at the road upset of a top five Class 3A team?