PREVIEW: West Rusk + Newton Collide in East Texas Regional Game
CLASS 3A DIVISION II
REGION III SEMIFINAL
West Rusk Raiders (10-1)
Newton Eagles (11-0)
7 p.m. Friday
Eagle Stadium, Tatum
- West Rusk: John Frazier
- Newton: W.T. Johnston
- West Rusk: def. Buffalo, 35-0
- Newton: def. Rice, 65-11
- Winner faces either Garrison or Waskom, regional championship
- DL/LB Tyree Wilson, Sr., 6-5, 235 (112 tackles, 37 for loss, 5 sacks, 27 QB hurries, 5 fumble recoveries, 5 forced fumbles; committed to Texas A&M)
- RB Jaylon Garland, Jr., 5-8, 167 (123 carries, 1,098 yards, 20 TDs)
- QB/DB LaJavius Harper, Jr., 5-8, 145 (89-of-158, 1,215 yards, 14 TDs,31 INT; 76 carries, 730 yards, 13 TDs; 44 tackles, 2 INTs, 8 PBUs)
- WR Dylan Walker, Sr., 5-11, 165 (30 catches, 576 yards, 10 TDs)
- OL/LB Diego Molina, Jr., 5-11, 180 (119 tackles, 32 for loss, 5 sacks, 6 QB hurries, 1 PBU, 1 forced fumble)
- TE/DL Darius Richardson, Jr., 6-3, 268 (68 tackles, 11 for loss, 1 sack, 6 QB hurries, 1 INT, 2 forced fumbles)
- DL Darrien Johnson, Sr., 5-10, 191 (76 tackles, 29 for loss, 7 sacks, 6 QB hurries, 6 forced fumbles, 3 recoveries)
- DB Talon Winings, So., 5-10, 165 (25 tackles, 7 INTs, 6 PBUs)
- WR/DB Tamauzia Brown, Jr., 6-1, 170 (40 catches, 627 yards, 10 TDs; 33 carries, 356 yards, 4 TDs; 31 tackles, 1 for loss, 11 INTs)
- RB Darwin Barlow, Jr., 6-0, 190 (136 carries, 1,578 yards, 32 TDs; 11 catches, 111 yards, 3 TDs)
- LB Corbin Foster, Sr., 6-0, 220 (161 tackles, 7 for loss, 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 3 recoveries)
- QB/DB Josh Foster, Jr., 6-1, 160 (85-of-130, 1,335, 21 TDs, 4 INTs; 51 carries, 446 yards, 10 TDs; 36 tackles)
- DL/LB Jadrian McGraw, Jr., 6-0, 185 (83 tackles, 5 for loss, 7 sacks, 2 INTs, 2 fumble recoveries)
- DL James Sylvester, So., 6-5, 215 (58 tackles, 7 for loss, 7 sacks)
- OL Caiden Walker, Jr., 6-4, 276
Just the facts
- Both teams are allowing only 7.9 points per game.
- Between interceptions and forced fumbles, West Rusk has forced 40 turnovers this season for an average of 3.63 per game.
- Raider running back Jaylon Garland rushed for at least 100 yards in the first six games of the season, but hasn't passed that mark since.
- West Rusk is averaging 14 tackles per loss and 2 sacks per game.
- Newton is outscoring its opponents 355-11 in the past six games.
- The Eagles have a 64-37-2 record in the playoffs all-time.
- Tamauzia Brown leads East Texas with 11 interceptions this season and boasts offers from Oklahoma State and Baylor.
Key matchup: Both team's ability to score on offense. Newton and West Rusk both boast some of the best defense in East Texas. The teams have pitched a combined 11 shutouts this season and are both giving up only 7.9 points per game.
Needless to say, points will not be easy to come by in this game.
Newton is perhaps best equipped to score on a stout defense. The Eagles have Tamauzia Brown, who in addition to being a lockdown defensive back has also been a go-to target for quarterback Josh Foster. Brown has 627 yards to go with 356 on the ground. He has company in running back Darwin Barlow, who has been one of the most impressive backs in East Texas. Barlow leads the team with 32 touchdowns on the ground and averaged 143.5 yards per game.
West Rusk is not lacking on offense, either. Raiders quarterback LJ Harper is nearing 2,000 yards combined rushing and passing. He also has 27 total touchdowns. Jaylon Garland is the biggest factor for West Rusk, though. He went down near the end of the season with a knee injury. Prior to his injury, he never failed to rush for more than 100 yards. In the three games since his return, he has not rushed for more than 65.
Perhaps coaches are taking it easy as he continues to get healthy, but now would be as good a time as any for him to return to his early season form.
If he can do that and West Rusk moves the ball at least somewhat on this tough defense, we could see an upset in this regional game.
Don't be surprised if: West Rusk forces a turnover. Teams playing the Raiders have been turnover prone this season. West Rusk is forcing 3.63 turnovers per game on average.
Talon Winings is high on the interceptions leaderboard with seven, while Tyree Wilson and Darrien Johnson have combined for 11 forced fumbles. Its ability to force turnovers is one of the many reasons the West Rusk defense has been dominant this season.
Foster is normally savvy with the ball, having throw only four interceptions this season. However, he'll face a tougher task, as will Barlow. Ball security and smart decisions from both players with be crucial against this stingy defense.