Mineola Needs Another Big Game Out Of Its Defense To Reach Title Game
CLASS 3A DIVISION I
Wall Hawks (11-3)
Mineola Yellowjackets (12-2)
7 p.m. Friday
Waco ISD Stadium, Waco
- Wall: Houston Guy
- Mineola: Joe Drennon
- Wall: def. Brock, 28-17
- Mineola: def. Pottsboro, 46-3
- Winner plays Malakoff or Yoakum, Class 3A Division I state championship game, 8 p.m. Thursday (Dec.15) at the Dallas Cowboys' AT&T Stadium in Arlington
- RB/DB Thomas Halfmann, Sr., 6-0, 175 (86 carries, 1,257 yards, 16 TDs; 11 tackles, 1 for loss)
- QB Brock Rosenquist, Jr., 5-9, 145 (134 carries, 888 yards, 17 TDs, 15 of 36, 428 passing yards, 3 passing TDs, 2 INTs)
- LB/FB Lucas Garcia, Jr., 5-6, 170 (135 tackles, 2 sacks, 5 QB pressures, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries)
- LB Sterling Guy, Jr. (116 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 2 recoveries)
- LB Steven Watts, Jr. (108 tackles, 3 for loss, 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery)
- QB Ryan Walling, Sr., 6-2, 180 (78 carries, 651 yards, 13 TDs, 15 of 27, 242 passing yards, 3 TDs, 4 INTs)
- FB/DL Casey Braden, Jr., 6-1, 195 (90 carries, 798 rushing yards, 11 TDs; 5 tackles)
- RB Tymber Carr, Jr., 5-10, 175 (63 carries, 624 yards, 7 TDs, 6 receptions, 216 receiving yards, 4 TDs)
- QB Jeremiah Crawford, Sr., 5-10, 185 (202 carries, 2,338 yards, 37 TDs, 45 of 96, 815 passing yards, 15 passing TDs, 7 INTs)
- RB Chantz Perkins, Sr., 5-6, 155 (139 carries, 1,132 yards, 16 TDs)
- DB/WR Cameron Sorenson, Jr., 6-2, 170 (101 tackles, 4 for loss, 2 INTs, 9 PBUs, 2 forced fumbles)
- DB Noah Sneed, Sr., 6-0, 195 (101 tackles, 2 for loss, 3 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries, 1 INT, 5 PBUs)
- LB/WR Kartney Hampton, Sr., 5-8, 165 (71 tackles, 5 for loss)
- DL Drason Tenner, Sr., 5-9, 255 (93 tackles, 21 for loss, 2 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 12 QB hurries)
- LB/TE Michael Drennon, Jr., 6-1, 210 (82 tackles, 7 for loss, 2 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries)
- DL Devon Goguen, Sr., 6-4, 190 (85 tackles, 28 for loss, 10 sacks, 17 QB pressures, 5 fumble recoveries)
- ATH Kourtland Sinches, Sr., 5-10, 165 (68 tackles, 23 for loss, 8 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 19 QB hurries)
Just the facts
- Friday's game will be Mineola's third consecutive state semifinals appearance. The Yellowjackets are tied with Gilmer for the best active streak in East Texas.
- Mineola is trying to make its way back to the Class 3A Division I state championship game after losing to Cameron Yoe in 2014 and bowing out to Brock in the semifinals last season.
- Wall lost to Yoe in the 2013 championship game.
- About half of the Yellowjackets' starters were serious contributors on the state runner-up team, and more than half played on last year's state semifinalist squad.
- Neither Mineola or Wall have lost to Class 3A Division I opponents this season.
- Mineola's two losses came to programs from the Class 4A levels. Wall has two losses against 4A Division II schools and a third against a TAPPS Division II program.
- An all-East Texas state championship game is a possibility. Malakoff will be squaring off with Yoakum while the Yellowjackets simultaneously play Wall.
- The town of Wall is near the San Angelo area.
- Mineola will travel 143 miles to Waco ISD Stadium. Wall travels 213 miles.
- Bring a good coat. The high Friday in Waco is forecasted to be 47 degrees and the low is expected to be 34 degrees.
Key matchup: Mineola's run defense versus Wall's triple-option attack.
The Yellowjackets and Wall share similar views on what a good Class 3A Division I offense should look like on the stat sheet. Both teams have more than four times as many yards on the ground as they do through the air.
But that's where the offensive comparisons stop.
Mineola leans on its two best athletes -- quarterback Jeremiah Crawford and running back Chantz Perkins -- to run the ball out of the shotgun formation. Wall is more diversified with five players past the 600-yard mark and no player beyond the 1,300-yard mark out of its triple-option look.
Without going into all the parameters of defending a triple-option attack with competent runners all the way around, just keep in mind Wall is banking on Mineola making mistakes.
When the quarterback takes off running and there's a running back following him up the field, the quarterback is ultimately going to pitch the ball back to the trailing player unless he sees an opportunity for more yardage himself.
Meanwhile, the Yellowjackets' defenders near the ball are divided in two groups. One group charges toward the quarterback for the tackle, but at least one defender has to go toward the running bak to stop the back if the ball gets pitched backward.
That degrades the odds Mineola will make the tackle against either player.
With all the option responsibilities running through Mineola's mind, the defense also has to be ready for a lot of conventional running plays.
The absolute best thing the Yellowjackets can do is win individual position battles near the line of scrimmage. Good pressure could box the quarterback in as well as trap the running backs from getting much momentum before going down.
Mineola's defense did a great job in last week's regional championship game against Pottsboro. It recorded 11 tackles for loss and pressured the quarterback 24 times, which had a lot to do with recording one interception in a 46-3 victory.
So, the indicators are there that the Yellowjackets can cut off Wall's offense at the source before the opposing unit has a chance confuse and thin out the defense.
Defensive end Devon Goguen is having a phenomenal senior season with 28 tackles for loss as part of 85 tackles in total. That should be a win on one edge of the line of scrimmage.
Kourtland Sinches can play the other end position. He has 23 tackles for negative yardage.
Drason Tenner has 21 tackles for loss from his spot in the middle of the defensive line.
Assuming the defensive tackles can't provide any resistance whatsoever, and they have in the past, 6-foot-2 and 210-pound middle linebacker Michael Drennon is a big obstacle.
Kartney Hampton and Preston Lankford will be at the outside linebackers spots. They have combined for 139 tackles, of which 10 have been for loss. Those numbers have been eaten into by the defensive line.
Don't be surprised if: Turnovers dictate the outcome of the game.
Despite Mineola's strong indications it can compete with such a run-oriented team right at the line of scrimmage, Wall will inevitably break free and be able to successfully run at least a few option plays.
The downside of the triple-option is simply that the ball has to trade hands through the air in open space. A running back tripping and not being there for the pitch, a flat out drop by the running back, or a Mineola defender in between the quarterback and the running back would all result in a fumble.
When the plan to contain all aspects of the triple-option doesn't work, sometimes these teams do the dirty work against themselves.
Recovering a fumble puts the ball back in the hands of East Texas' leading rusher, Jeremiah Crawford, and 1,000-yard runner Chantz Perkins.