Gladewater Faces Pleasant Grove Team Hoping To Give It Taste Of Own Hard-Hitting Medicine
DISTRICT 7-4A DIVISION II
Pleasant Grove Hawks (3-6, 2-2)
Gladewater Bears (7-1, 3-1)
7:30 p.m. Friday
Jack V. Murphy Stadium, Gladewater
- Pleasant Grove: Josh Gibson
- Gladewater: John Berry
- Pleasant Grove: def. Spring Hill, 47-14
- Gladewater: def. Pittsburg, 26-15
- Pleasant Grove: TBD
- Gladewater: Opponent TBD, Class 4A Division II bi-district round
- OL Angel Mejia, Sr., 6-0, 250
- TE Jackson Pace, Sr., 6-4, 220 (plays in a Wing-T system, 2 catches, 18 yards, 1 TDs; offer from Prairie View A&M)
- WR Keshawn Jones, Sr., 5-9, 161 (67 carries, 439 yards, 4 TDs, 6 catches, 128 yards, 1 TD)
- RB Logan Wesley, Sr., 5-7, 190 (149 carries, 631 yards, 7 TDs, 7 catches, 103 yards, 1 TD)
- QB T.J. Cole, Jr., 6-0, 200 (28 of 72, 429 yards, 7 TDs, 5 INTs, 86 carries, 372 yards, 8 TDs)
- OL Nick Gavriel, Jr., 6-3, 301
- OL Ryan Forbes, Sr.
- LB Xavier Benson, Jr., 6-3, 200 (74 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries)
- RB Darnell McKnight, Sr., 5-11, 235 (125 carries, 728 yards, 4 TDs)
- DB Austin Hawley, Sr., 6-1, 210 (51 tackles, 9 for loss, 1 INT, 10 PBUs, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery; committed to Louisiana-Monroe)
- RB/DB Isaiah Davis, Jr., 5-11, 210 (145 carries, 943 yards, 15 TDs)
- QB Cameron Callaway, Sr., (54 carries, 701 yards, 13 TDs)
- LB Bryston Oliver, Sr., 5-9, 185 (70 tackles, 20 for loss, 7 sacks, 4 PBUs)
- DL Isiah Tiner, Sr. (51 tackles, 15 for loss)
Just the facts
- Gladewater has clinched a spot in the Class 4A Division II playoffs.
- The only way Pleasant Grove will miss the postseason is if it loses to Gladewater and Pittsburg defeats Pleasant Grove and Atlanta beats Spring Hill.
- Pleasant Grove will win second place in the district if it beats Gladewater and Pittsburg beats Gilmer and Atlanta loses to Spring Hill.
- Pleasant Grove will most likely be the district's third place finisher and a third seed in the postseason.
- Gilmer has secured at least a majority share of the District 7-4A Division II championship and will win it outright with a win against Pittsburg or a Pleasant Grove win against Gladewater.
- Pleasant Grove is fighting for its third straight playoff appearance. Gladewater has not missed the postseason since 2012.
- Gladewater is 3-0 at home.
- Pleasant Grove is 1-3 on the road.
- The Hawks will travel 94 miles to Gladewater.
Key matchup: Gladewater's defensive front versus Pleasant Grove's Wing-T offense.
The Hawks have a simple game plan. They want to dictate the time of possession and keep the dangerous opposing offenses of District 7-4A Division II off the field for as long as possible.
Head coach Josh Gibson's Wing-T offense and slow tempo serves the plan very well.
Pleasant Grove's simple run plays are hard to defend because there are 10 offensive players compacted tightly, nine of which will eventually set up blocks of the ball carrier. And with four players in the backfield at any given moment, there are opportunities to fake the ball to one running back, make the defense flinch and then hand the ball away to a back moving a different direction.
The Wing-T formation also requires the defensive secondary to play closer to the line of scrimmage and gets that unit accustomed to coming down to stop the run. Eventually, there are opportunities for surprise passes against an out-of-position defense.
Logan Wesley is Pleasant Grove's most productive back. He has 631 yards and seven touchdowns on 149 carries. Receiver Keshawn Jones is the team's second-leading rusher with 439 yards and six touchdown on 67 sweeps. Big quarterback T.J. Cole, he's 6-feet and 200 pounds, is a bruiser who frequently takes the ball himself.
But Gladewater loves to play physical teams like the Hawks. It's a throwback to its fall camp days against its own I-formation offense.
This is the defense that produced Texas A&M defensive line standout Daylon Mack and countless quality high school defenders under head coach John Berry. The Bears' tradition of strong fronts is not slacking this year.
Defensive lineman Isiah Tiner is a big part of the initial push. He has 51 tackles, and 15 of those have been for loss. Those are big numbers for a lineman constantly having to shed at least one blocker.
Gladewater's real defensive strength this season is its linebacking corps. Bryston Oliver has 20 tackles for negative yardage and 70 takedowns in total.
Louisiana-Monroe safety commitment Austin Hawley is the last line of defense. It's never a bad thing to have an NCAA Division I FBS caliber player in that position.
The team that can be the most physical when Pleasant Grove has the ball will win this game.
Don't be surprised if: Friday's game is a low-scoring affair.
Both teams take their time marching downfield and are comfortable playing in relatively close games. Late-game heroics are probably on the table in this contest.