Winona Tries To Keep Season Of A Lifetime Going Against Whitewright
CLASS 3A DIVISION II
Region II Semifinal
Winona Wildcats (7-5)
Whitewright Tigers (8-4)
7:30 p.m. Friday
City Bank Stadium, Forney
- Winona: Keylon Kincade
- Whitewright: Joe Williams
- Winona: def. Leonard, 51-12
- Whitewright: def. Edgewood, 56-28
- Winner plays Gunter or Henrietta, Class 3A Division II, Region II championship game
- RB Dee Wheeler, Sr., 5-10, 210 (eight games played, 158 carries, 1,245 yards, 22 TDs)
- ATH Keylon Kincade Jr., Soph., 5-10, 170 (93 carries. 658 yards, 6 TDs, 39 of 88 passing, 538 yards, 3 TDs, 5 INTs)
- RB/DB Quinn Johnson, Soph., 5-7, 149 (113 carries, 961 yards, 16 TDs)
- ATH Braxton Kincade, Sr., 6-2, 172 (23 catches, 367 yards, 3 TDs, 4 carries, 42 yards, 1 rushing TD)
- LB Chase Boyd, Sr.
- DB Earl McNown, Sr.
- OL/DL Tee Simmons, Sr., 6-1, 320
- QB Payton Jones, Sr., 6-2, 185 (117 carries, 943 yards, 19 TDs, 27 of 58 passing, 530 yards, 5 TDs, 3 INTs)
- ATH/LB Connor Henderson, Sr., 5-6, 145 (102 carries, 689 yards, 9 TDs)
- ATH Kendall Shaw, Sr., 5-7, 130 (91 carries, 603 yards, 8 TDs)
- RB/DL Neal Taylor, Jr. (89 carries, 603 yards, 3 TDs)
Just the facts
- Winona is enjoying its first multi-round trip in the playoffs since 1987.
- Senior Wildcats running back Dee Wheeler broke the school record for most rushing yards in a game last week with 340 yards on 30 carries.
- Wheeler missed four games earlier in the season with a leg injury. He has 1,245 yards and 22 scores on 150 carries through eight games.
- Whitewright and Winona share three common opponents -- Edgewood, Leonard and Lone Oak.
- The Wildcats beat Edgewood and Leonard. Whitewright only took out Edgewood.
- Winona beat Leonard, 51-12, last week. Whitewright lost to Leonard in District 6-3A Division II by a score of 53-14 on Sept. 30.
- The Wildcats topped Edgewood in District 8-3A Division II by a score of 39-35 three weeks ago. Whitewright beat Edgewood, 56-28, last week.
- Winona drew the fourth and final playoff berth from its district and is the last team standing from the league.
- Whitewright was a third-place team. Gunter also is alive from its district and is playing in the other Region II semifinal game.
- Winona will travel 84 miles to Forney's City Bank Stadium. Whitewright, about 20 minutes southeast of Sherman, has a 62-mile trip to make.
Key matchup: Winona's offense versus Whitewright's defense.
It's hard to find a particularly important matchup for Friday's game because they're all inter-related in this game. But the Wildcats can really do a number to their playoff opponent if they score against a team that has just a plus-30 margin between its offensive and defensive point totals.
With running back Dee Wheeler at his best, and off a career night last week against Leonard, there's potential for the Wildcats to open the game up. And that's before looking at other talented players in senior Braxton Kincade, sophomore Keylon Kincade Jr. and sophomore Quinn Johnson.
If Winona scores at will, they're going to make things tough on Whitewright's offense.
Whitewright has been good for five touchdowns per game plus a few loose points whether by field goals or two-point conversions down the stretch, but its offensive unit has only hit above 39 points three times in 12 contests.
Expect Wheeler to get another heavy load off 30 carries in last week's beatdown of Leonard.
Braxton Kincade, Keylon Kincade Jr. and Johnson can supplement Wheeler in the running game, but the trio also performs well in open space. They have the potential to spread Whitewright's defense out a bit, which makes the running lanes that much bigger for Wheeler.
Winona absolutely can't afford to fall behind, however. It has completed 47 percent of its 149 pass attempts all season for eight touchdowns to six interceptions.
The Wildcats' defense will need a couple of stands to supplement their offense. It's good for a few stops a game, averaging a little less than five touchdowns per contest.
Don't be surprised if: Friday's game is a high-scoring affair.
Winona and Whitewright are very similar teams in terms of offensive production to defensive liability. It won't come as a surprise whatsoever if the two teams keep pace with each other through the meeting.
Think of this game as a race to 45 points.