PREVIEW: Pine Tree Faces Must-Win Situation At Lindale
DISTRICT 9-5A DIVISION II
Pine Tree Pirates (4-4, 2-3)
Lindale Eagles (5-3, 4-1)
7:30 p.m. Friday
Eagle Stadium, Lindale
- Pine Tree: Kerry Lane
- Lindale: Chris Cochran
- Pine Tree: lost to Whitehouse, 45-43
- Lindale: def. Mount Pleasant, 45-35
- Pine Tree: vs Marshall, Nov. 9
- Lindale: vs. Jacksonville, Nov. 9
Players to watch
- RB Gabe Nelson, Sr., 5-11, 157 (165 carries, 1,362 yards, 9 TDs; 6 catches, 39 yards, 1 TD)
- WR JJ Sparkman, Jr., 6-5, 205 (26 catches, 636 yards, 9 TDs; 2 carries, 13 yards)
- HB Keshon Williams, Sr., 6-3, 240 (22 carries, 212 yards, 4 TDs; 10 catches, 253 yards, 1 TD)
- WR/DB Da'Von Coleman, Sr., 5-10, 165 (17 catches, 291 yards, 6 TDs; 6 carries, 59 yards; 19 tackles, 1 for loss, 3 INTs, 9 PBUs, 1 forced fumble)
- QB DJ Freeman, Soph., 5-8, 140 (57 of 116, 1,102 yards, 16 TDs, 3 INTs; 72 carries, 612 yards, 9 TDs)
- DB Nichlous Williams, Sr., 5-11, 165 (48 tackles, 5 for loss, 1 sack, 3 QB pressures, 2 INTs, 1 PBU, 1 fumble recovery)
- DL Tim Short, Sr., 6-4, 210 (40 tackles, 2.5 for loss, 1 sack, 2 QB pressures, 3 forced fumbles)
- WR Gabe Adams, Jr., 6-0, 175 (15 catches, 211 yards, 3 TDs; 4 carries, 87 yards, 1 TD)
- RB Jordan Jenkins, Soph., 6-2, 195 (185 carries, 1,101 yards, 14 TDs)
- QB Dillon Heinaman, Sr., 6-1, 230 (159 of 227, 1,998 yards, 19 TDs, 7 INTs)
- WR Conner Boyette, Jr., 5-9, 150 (53 catches, 516 yards, 3 TDs)
- WR Colton Brown, Sr., 6-1, 180 (29 catches, 356 yards, 5 TDs)
- DB Airik Williams, Soph., 5-9, 140 (48 tackles, 3 for loss, 3 INTs, 2 forced fumbles, 1 recovery, 1 defensive TD)
- LB Kolton Primeaux, Jr., 6-0, 180 (51 tackles, 3.5 for loss, 2.5 sacks, 2 PBUs)
- WR/DE Jaymond Jackson, Soph., 6-2, 196 (7 catches, 79 yards, 2 TDs; 36 tackles, 7 for loss, 6 sacks, 1 PBU)
- LB Jaron Covey, Sr., 6-0, 165 (45 tackles, 1 for loss, 1 INT)
Just the facts
- Pine Tree has lost three consecutive games by a total of seven points.
- Lindale has won four consecutive games by an average of 10.3 points.
- Pine Tree is averaging 43.8 points and 494.7 yards per game -- 315.9 rushing and 178.8 passing.
- Pirates junior receiver JJ Sparkman is averaging 24.5 yards per catch.
- Pine Tree is allowing 38.8 points per game, has seven sacks, and has forced 12 turnovers -- seven interceptions and five fumbles.
- Lindale is averaging 32.6 points per game.
- Eagles sophomore running back Jordan Jenkins is averaging 137.6 rushing yards per game.
- Lindale is allowing 35.4 points per game.
Key matchup: Pine Tree rushing attack vs. Lindale defensive front. The Pirates have been among the best teams in East Texas at running the football, as evidenced by their average of more than 315 rushing yards per game. Pine Tree senior running back Gabe Nelson ranks seventh in the area with 1,369 yards in addition to nine rushing touchdowns. But Nelson isn't the only weapon in the Pirates' backfield. Sophomore quarterback DJ Freeman is among the top running signal-callers in the region as he enters Friday's game with 612 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground. That combo must be at the forefront of what Pine Tree does offensively this Friday night, because when it is running the ball successfully, big plays in the passing game usually follow. Standout junior receiver JJ Sparkman had 636 yards and nine touchdowns on only 26 catches.
Lindale must play well up front defensively in order for the Eagles to keep its winning streak going. Lindale has played solid defense since a district-opening loss to Marshall, but opponents have averaged almost 27 points per game during the Eagles' four-game winning streak. Pine Tree possesses one of the most productive offenses in East Texas, averaging more than 43 points and almost 500 yards per game. Lindale would like to avoid a shootout with the Pirates, which means containing Pine Tree's ground game is a must.
Don't be surprised if: Pine Tree pulls out all the stops to snap its three-game losing streak. Just a few short weeks ago, the Pirates were the talk of District 9-5A Division II after opening league play with back-to-back wins. But not only has Pine Tree failed to reach the win column in each of its last three tries, the losses have been especially difficult. Pine Tree's defeats to Jacksonville, Nacogdoches, and Whitehouse have come by a combined seven points. And all three contests were decided in the final minute of play. Pine Tree, which now finds itself on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff race, is no longer in control of its own postseason destiny. The Pirates will need help from the rest of the district in order to make it. But first thing's first: Pine Tree must find a way to end Lindale's hot streak and come away with a key road win Friday.