PREVIEW: Winona Set to Face High-Flying New Diana Offense
CLASS 3A DIVISION II
Region II Bi-District Playoff
New Diana Eagles (7-3)
Winona Wildcats (4-6)
7:30 p.m. Thursday
Panther Stadium, Longview
- New Diana: Robbie Coplin
- Winona: Keylon Kincade
- New Diana: def. Paul Pewitt, 42-39
- Winona: lost to Edgewood, 49-14
- Winner faces either Leonard or Nocona, area playoffs
- QB Jackson Sampson, Sr., 5-11, 165 (207 of 320, 3,630 yards, 47 TDs, 10 INTs; 35 carries, 11 yards, 0 TDs)
- WR TJ Rogers, Sr., 6-2, 185 (75 catches, 1,320 yards, 17 TDs)
- WR Cody Payton, Sr., 5-10, 150 (37 catches, 1,107 yards, 16 TDs; 22 carries, 178 yards, 1 TD)
- RB/LB Aron Jahr, Sr., 6-0, 199 (24 carries, 323 yards, 3 TDs; 8 catches, 211 yards, 3 TDs; 53 tackles, 14 for loss, 2 sacks, 11 QB pressures, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovery)
- DL Dakota Manes, Sr., 5-11, 203 (84 tackles, 9 for loss, 3 sacks, 3 QB pressures, 1 forced fumble)
- DB Jacob Choyce, Jr., 6-0, 172 (77 tackles, 3 for loss, 1 QB pressure, 1 INT, 6 PBUs, 3 blocked kicks)
- RB Marquice Wilkerson, Sr., 5-6, 149 (54 carries, 375 yards, 3 TDs; 17 catches, 164 yards, 0 TDs)
- LB Cole Willeford, Sr., 5-11, 205 (74 tackles, 13 for loss, 1 QB pressure, 1 INT, 1 fumble recovery)
- RB Quindarius Johnson, Jr., 5-7, 149 (132 carries, 1,159 yards, 10 TDs; 7 catches, 84 yards, 0 TDs)
- WR Dakota Pullum, Jr., 6-1, 180 (50 catches, 911 yards, 11 TDs)
- ATH KJ Kincade, Jr., 5-10, 170 (42 of 74, 568 yards, 4 TDs, 5 INTs; 78 carries, 194 yards, 3 TDs; 15 catches, 267 yards, 1 TD)
- ATH Keenan Crawford, Jr., 5-8, 125 (49 of 123, 927 yards, 12 TDs, 6 INTs; 48 carries, 326 yards, 4 TDs; 4 catches, 20 yards, 1 TD)
- RB Zack Bradford, Jr., 6-2, 195 (33 carries, 192 yards, 3 TDs; 4 catches, 44 yards, 0 TDs)
- WR Pablo Tarango, Sr., 5-7, 170 (8 catches, 145 yards, 2 TDs)
- OL Brandon Henson, Jr., 5-8, 300
- LB Zachary Francis, Sr., 6-0, 185
Just the facts
- New Diana's 2017 opponents have a cumulative record of 51-48 (.515).
- Winona's 2017 opponents have a cumulative record of 51-49 (.510).
- New Diana is averaging 47 points and 501.1 yards per game -- 138.1 rushing and 363 passing.
- Eagles quarterback Jackson Sampson is averaging 17.5 yards per completion.
- New Diana is allowing 32.9 points per game, and has forced 16 turnovers -- nine interceptions and seven fumbles.
- Winona is averaging 24.9 points and 338.6 yards per game -- 189.1 rushing and 149.5 passing.
- Wildcats running back Quindarius Johnson has gone four-straight games without eclipsing the 100-yard mark.
- Winona is allowing 33.9 points per game.
Key matchup: New Diana passing attack vs. Winona secondary. There's not a more productive passing offense anywhere in East Texas than New Diana, which brings in the area's most prolific passer and two of its top three receivers. Quarterback Jackson Sampson and receivers TJ Rogers and Cody Payton have torched opposing defenses all season, and have their sights set on Winona's secondary this Thursday.
Sampson has not only thrown for more than 3,600 yards in 10 games, but he's passed for 47 touchdowns. If New Diana were to reach the state championship round in six weeks, and Sampson remains on his current pace, his yardage total would be a single-season record. He has three games of more than 400 passing yards, and he's thrown at least six touchdown passes in a game four times.
New Diana has nine players with at least one reception for the year, but the bulk of the production belongs to the duo of Rogers and Payton. Rogers leads the team in catches (75), yards (1,320), and touchdowns (17). But Payton has 16 scoring receptions, and his 1,107 yards have come on just 37 catches -- an average of nearly 30 yards per reception.
Winona's defense should have its hands full, but turnovers are always the great equalizer. Sampson does have average one interception per game this season, and the Wildcats came away with three interceptions against a similarly skilled Elysian Fields offense back in Week 2. Winona won't be able to win a shootout with New Diana, but if it can win the turnover battle, the Wildcats will have a fighting chance.
Don't be surprised if: Winona features junior running back Quindarius Johnson extensively. Aside from creating extra possessions by forcing turnovers, Winona could employ another weapon. Johnson, despite a drop in production in recent weeks, has rushed for more than 1,100 yards on the season. And if Winona can establish a strong running attack and shorten the game with long drives, the less opportunities New Diana's explosive offense has to shine.
If there is a glaring weakness for New Diana it's on the defensive side of the ball. The Eagles allow almost 33 points per game, which suggests Winona should be able to move the ball with at least some effectiveness. If the Wildcats need a big play, they have junior receiver Dakota Pullum to rely on. Winona's passing numbers aren't anything special, but Pullum has had a major impact on just about every Winona game this season. He is closing in on 1,000 yards and has 11 touchdown receptions on the year.