PREVIEW: No. 8 Gilmer Hosts Unbeaten Pleasant Grove in District Opener
DISTRICT 7-4A DIVISION II
Pleasant Grove Hawks (5-0)
No. 8 Gilmer Buckeyes (4-1)
7:30 p.m. Friday
Jeff Traylor Stadium, Gilmer
- Pleasant Grove: Josh Gibson
- Gilmer: Matt Turner
- Pleasant Grove: def. Krum, 63-0
- Gilmer: idle
- Pleasant Grove: vs. Atlanta, Oct. 20
- Gilmer: at Gladewater, Oct. 20
- ATH Xavier Benson, Sr., 6-3, 200 (4 catches, 94 yards, 1 TD; 31 tackles, 4 for loss, 2 sacks, 4 QB pressures, 1 forced fumble, 2 recoveries, 1 blocked kick; committed to Texas Tech)
- RB TJ Cole, Sr., 6-0, 200 (80 carries, 576 yards, 7 TDs; 6 catches, 89 yards, 1 TD)
- RB Bruce Garrett, Soph., 5-10, 178 (27 carries, 277 yards, 5 TDs; 2 catches, 17 yards, 0 TDs)
- LB Caleb Porchia, Sr., 6-0, 210 (53 tackles, 1 for loss, 3 QB pressures, 1 forced fumble, 1 PBU)
- RB/DB Chauncey Martin, Sr., 6-0, 192 (20 carries, 176 yards, 3 TDs; 27 tackles, 1 for loss, 2 INTs, 1 PBU, 2 fumble recoveries)
- DB Caleb Hemphill, Jr. (34 tackles, 5 for loss, 2 sacks, 2 QB pressures, 1 forced fumble)
- QB Ben Harmon, Soph., 6-1, 170 (27 of 47, 586 yards, 8 TDs, 2 INTs; 17 carries, 34 yards, 1 TD)
- WR Carson Cox, Sr., 6-3, 185 (8 catches, 245 yards, 3 TDs)
- QB Aaron "Poppy" Brown, Sr., 5-9, 180 (102 of 165, 1,649 yards, 15 TDs, 8 INTs; 36 carries, 190 yards, 5 TDs)
- RB/DB Brannon Webb, Jr., 5-10, 175 (49 carries, 423 yards, 6 TDs; 4 catches, 39 yards, 0 TDs; 6 tackles, 1 INT, 2 PBUs)
- WR/DB Red Jones, Sr., 5-11, 150 (28 catches, 398 yards, 2 TDs; 7 carries, 34 yards, 0 TDs; 6 tackles, 2 INTs, 6 PBUs)
- WR/DB Morgan Lusty, Sr., 5-9, 150 (21 catches, 544 yards, 7 TDs; 12 tackles, 2 PBUs)
- WR/DB Qua Heath, Sr., 6-2, 175 (14 catches, 263 yards, 4 TDs; 8 tackles, 2 for loss, 1 PBU)
- WR/DB Tra Fluellen, Jr. (12 catches, 167 yards, 1 TD; 4 carries, 24 yards, 0 TDs; 17 tackles, 2 INTs, 5 PBUs, 1 forced fumble)
- LB Dain Goudarzi, Sr. (53 tackles, 3 for loss, 1 sack)
- LB Garry Orr, Sr., 6-1, 190 (36 tackles)
Just the facts
- Pleasant Grove and Gilmer share one common opponent this season: Liberty-Eylau. Gilmer defeated the Leopards, 58-57, in Week 1, while Pleasant Grove rolled to a 51-14 rout in Week 5.
- Gilmer won last year's meeting in Texarkana, 31-10.
- Pleasant Grove is averaging 45.8 points and 414.2 yards per game -- 297 rushing and 117.2 passing.
- The Hawks are one victory from equaling their win total in each of the previous three seasons.
- Pleasant Grove is allowing 12 points per game, and has forced 14 turnovers in five games -- five interceptions and nine fumbles.
- Gilmer is averaging 50.6 points and 576 yards per game -- 243.6 rushing and 332.4 passing.
- The Buckeyes haven't lost two regular-season games since 2010.
- Gilmer is allowing 35.6 points per game, and has forced just six turnovers through five games.
Key matchup: Pleasant Grove rushing attack vs. Gilmer defensive front. The Hawks' offense has been operating at an extremely high level through the first half of the season. Pleasant Grove put up a season-high 63 points in its shutout of Krum last week, and for the season, the Hawks are averaging more than 45 points and 400 yards per game. And while PG is making more plays through the air than in the past, its offense is still heavily reliant on the running game.
Through five weeks, Pleasant Grove is putting up almost 300 rushing yards per game, and the Hawks are getting contributions from several different sources. TJ Cole is the leading rusher, and he is averaging 115 yards per game and 7.2 yards per carry. But there are four other players on the roster with at least 174 yards on the season, and seven players in total have rushed for a touchdown. And the Hawks will need the ground attack to be at its best Friday night against Gilmer, which has one of the most explosive offenses in East Texas.
The Buckeyes average more than 50 points and 570 yards per game, but if Pleasant Grove can shorten the game by grinding down the clock with success on the ground, there will be fewer opportunities for Gilmer's offense, which averages 68 offensive plays per game. In contrast, Pleasant Grove only runs 53 plays from scrimmage on average.
Gilmer's defense has had its issues in the early going. The Buckeyes come into this week's game having allowed more than 35 points per game, but most of that damage has come in their three games against Liberty-Eylau, Carthage, and Nacogdoches. In those games, Gilmer surrendered an average of more than 220 rushing yards.
Don't be surprised if: Turnovers play a big role in the outcome of Friday's game. And through the first half of the regular season, Pleasant Grove has the clear edge in turnover margin. One of the biggest reasons for the Hawks defense's scoring average of 12 points has been the takeaways. Pleasant Grove has forced 14 turnovers in just five games, almost three per game. Gilmer, meanwhile, has struggled with ball security this season.
Buckeyes quarterback Aaron "Poppy" Brown might be the catalyst for Gilmer's scoring machine, but he's also been turnover-prone this season. He's thrown at least one interception in four of his team's five games, and he's been picked off at least twice in a game on three occasions. For the most part, Gilmer has found ways to win despite those miscues. The Buckeyes might not be as fortunate this week against a team that's turned defense into offense all season.