PREVIEW: Pine Tree + Whitehouse Clash in Crucial Late-Season Battle
DISTRICT 9-5A DIVISION II
Pine Tree Pirates (4-3, 2-2)
Whitehouse Wildcats (5-2, 3-1)
7:30 p.m. Friday
Wildcat Stadium, Whitehouse
- Pine Tree: Kerry Lane
- Whitehouse: Marcus Gold
- Pine Tree: at Lindale, Nov. 2
- Whitehouse: at Marshall, Nov. 2
Players to watch
- WR JJ Sparkman, Jr., 6-5, 205 (21 catches, 508 yards, 7 TDs; 2 carries, 13 yards)
- HB Keshon Williams, Sr., 6-3, 240 (14 carries, 110 yards, 3 TDs; 8 catches, 169 yards; committed to Texas State)
- RB Gabe Nelson, Sr., 5-11, 157 (150 carries, 1,233 yards, 9 TDs; 5 catches, 33 yards, 1 TD)
- QB DJ Freeman, Soph., 5-8, 140 (47 of 98, 897 yards, 13 TDs, 3 INTs; 63 caries, 542 yards, 8 TDs)
- WR Gabe Adams, Jr., 6-0, 175 (12 catches, 196 yards, 3 TDs; 4 carries, 87 yards, 1 TD)
- WR/DB Davon Coleman, Sr., 5-10, 165 (16 catches, 273 yards, 5 TDs; 5 carries, 41 yards; 16 tackles, 1 for loss, 3 INTs, 9 PBUs, 1 forced fumble)
- DL Rashaud Livingston, Soph., 5-8, 205 (27 tackles, 4.5 for loss, 0.5 sacks, 2 QB pressures)
- DB Keith Wright, Jr., 6-0, 155 (43 tackles, 1 INT, 1 PBU)
- WR Cameron Cantrell, Sr., 6-1, 175 (22 catches, 378 yards, 4 TDs; 9 carries, 58 yards, 2 TDs; committed to Texas Tech)
- WR Kendrion Johnson, Sr., 6-3, 195 (37 catches, 739 yards, 8 TDs)
- LB Michael Raabe, Sr., 5-11, 210 (68 tackles, 10.5 for loss, 3.5 sacks, 2 QB pressures, 2 INTs)
- QB Flint Herrington, Sr., 6-0, 165 (124 of 201, 1,770 yards, 17 TDs, 6 INTs; 35 carries, 31 yards, 1 TD)
- DB Chaez Spurlock, Sr., 5-10, 185 (42 tackles, 1.5 for loss, 0.5 sacks, 3 PBUs, 1 forced fumble)
- DB Jermone Bowser, Jr., 5-9, 175 (25 tackles, 2 INTs, 4 PBUs, 1 forced fumble)
- DE Ty Ward, Jr., 5-9, 175 (24 tackles, 8 for loss, 3 sacks, 4 QB pressures, 1 PBU, 1 forced fumble)
- LB Trevon Coleman, Sr., 5-7, 175 (28 tackles, 8 for loss, 3 sacks, 7 QB pressures)
Just the facts
- Pine Tree's two district losses to Jacksonville and Nacogdoches have been decided in the final minute.
- Pine Tree is averaging 43.9 points and 484.3 yards per game -- 315.9 rushing and 168.4 passing.
- Pirates junior receiver JJ Sparkman is averaging 24.2 yards per catch.
- Pine Tree is allowing 37.9 points per game, has seven sacks, and has forced eight turnovers -- six interceptions and two fumbles.
- Whitehouse's two losses this season to Melissa and Lindale have come by a combined nine points.
- Whitehouse is averaging 28.9 points and 362.4 yards per game -- 108 rushing and 254.4 passing.
- Wildcats senior receiver Kendrion Johnson is averaging 105.6 yards per game.
- Whitehouse is allowing 16 points per game, has 24 sacks, and has forced 10 turnovers -- eight interceptions and two fumbles.
Key matchup: Pine Tree rushing attack vs. Whitehouse defensive front. The Pirates have one of the most productive running games in East Texas as they come into Friday's district clash averaging more than 315 rushing yards per game. Pine Tree senior running back Gabe Nelson ranks fifth in the area in rushing this season, and third among backs with seven games to their credit, with 1,233 yards and nine touchdowns. Nelson averages an impressive 8.2 yards per carry, but he is not the only reason for Pine Tree's success on the ground. Sophomore quarterback DJ Freeman has run for 542 yards and eight touchdowns as well. The Pirates' biggest problem this season has been on the defensive side of the ball as opponents are putting up almost 38 points per game. A ball-control offense might be the best way to keep the Pine Tree defense off the field Friday.
For most of the season, Whitehouse's backbone on defense has been its front. But a couple injuries to two of their key contributors have made the job of controlling the line of scrimmage a tougher one for the Wildcats' defense. Whitehouse missed the physicality of both defensive tackle Darius Trimble and linebacker Peyton Kennedy in last week's loss to Lindale. Whitehouse allowed Eagles sophomore running back Jordan Jenkins 128 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner in the fourth quarter. Whitehouse cannot afford to let Pine Tree's ground game take control.
Don't be surprised if: Whitehouse tries to establish a running game. One of the biggest reasons for the Wildcats' struggles on offense last week was their lack of a rushing attack. Leading rusher Jayden Haskins missed the game and his status for Friday is uncertain, but regardless, Whitehouse must improve upon last week's performance that netted just 44 yards on 29 rushing attempts. Quarterback Flint Herrington has led the offense for most of the season, but if Whitehouse wants to take the next step the rest of the season, a relevant running game needs to be discovered.