West Rusk’s Defense Can Make Another Statement Against Strong Arp Program
West Rusk Raiders (3-0)
Arp Tigers (1-2)
7:30 p.m. Friday
Bill Herrington Tiger Stadium, Arp
- West Rusk: John Frazier
- Arp: Dale Irwin
- West Rusk: idle
- Arp: idle
- West Rusk: vs. New Diana, Oct. 2
- Arp: at Winona, Oct. 2
- OL Corey Brister, Sr., 6-2, 280
- QB Dee Starling, Sr., 6-2, 185 (23-42, 350 yards, 4 TDs, 3 INTs, 15 carries, 94 yards)
- LB Joe Wright, Sr., 6-0, 225 (43 tackles, 3 TFL, 2 sacks, 21 tackles in last game vs. Sabine)
- WR D.J. Hicks, Sr., 5-9, 160 (9 catches, 102 yards, 1 TD)
- OL Cameron Richmond, Jr., 6-5, 280
- HB Nick Ballard, Sr., 5-10, 220 (30 carries, 210 yards, 5 TDs)
- DL Hayden Sims, Jr. (18 tackles, 4 TFL)
- DB Kevin Jones, Jr., 6-3, 175 (24 tackles, 2 INTs)
- RB Jullian Herndon, Sr., 6-0, 195 (55 carries, 358 yards, 3 TDs)
- QB Kayce Medlock, Jr., 6-0, 180 (25 carries, 244 yards, 2 TDs, 15-39, 176 yards, 0 TDs, 5 INTs)
- OL Mack Stroupe, Jr.
- WR/DB Tommy Reese, Sr., 6-1, 185 (5 catches, 70 yards; 41 tackles)
- RB/LB Isaiah Baker, Sr., 5-8, 165 (34 carries, 284 yards, 3 TDs; 11 tackles, 1 sack)
Just the facts
- Friday's game is the District 8-3A Division II opener for both teams. All other league competitors will be playing their first district games simultaneously.
- The meeting could go a long way toward determining who makes the playoffs. Waskom and Elysian Fields are strong teams while Frankston and West Rusk, which both missed the playoffs last season, improved in the non-district schedule from last year's results.
- Arp turned in a 1-2 non-district record with a shutout win against Paul Pewitt and losses to tough Hughes Springs and Franklin teams.
- West Rusk dramatically improved against its non-district competition from a season ago. The offense outproduced last season's point total through three games by 73 points while the defense shed 57 points.
- The overall result for the Raiders was an 0-3, non-district season last year to a 3-0 record entering district competition this year.
- No surprise, Arp is a run-oriented team. It has 999 total yards on the ground to 200 through the air.
- West Rusk is just slightly more dynamic. Its ground game has about a 2:1 ratio in production compared to its passing attack.
- The Raiders missed the playoffs last season due to a head-to-head tiebreaker with New Diana.
- Arp went 6-1 in the district with its sole loss to eventual Class 3A Division II state champion Waskom.
- The Tigers have an 0-2 record at home through the early campaign.
- West Rusk has a three-game winning streak outside of New London dating back to Week 10 of the 2014 season.
Key matchup: Arp's running game versus West Rusk's defense. Strength against strength.
Junior quarterback Kayce Medlock is a great asset for the Tigers as a dual-threat quarterback. He keeps defenses on their heels. Add to that a strong supporting running game and the threat of big plays through the passing game, you've got yourself a party.
Medlock has a team-second best 244 yards and two touchdowns on just 25 carries. He also has thrown for 176 yards, although he has thrown five interceptions to zero touchdowns. Running back Jullian Herndon is the workhorse with 55 carries for 358 yards and three scores on the ground.
Don't discount the Arp passing game. It could go off on a moment's notice.
Tray Baker has 101 yards, and it has taken just six receptions.
The Raiders will counter with one of the region's most impressive defenses. It allowed 19 points through its three non-district games and shut out Sabine along the way. Sabine had scored 90 points in its first two games.
Senior linebacker Joe Wright is enjoying a great start to his final high school season. He has 43 tackles through three games.
The unit as a whole has forced eight fumbles, recorded three interceptions and has 24 tackles for loss .
Don't be surprised if: A turnover decides the game. West Rusk is awfully good at jarring the ball loose with eight forced fumbles and Arp has forced four total turnovers of its own. Both teams love to run, so possessions will be limited. Neither team can afford to give the opposition good field position while also sacrificing a scoring opportunity.