White Oak Faces Powerful Sunnyvale Offense In Next Playoff Challenge
CLASS 3A DIVISION I REGIONAL
White Oak Roughnecks (10-2)
Sunnyvale Raiders (11-1)
7:30 p.m. Friday
Memorial Stadium, Van
- White Oak: Kris Iske
- Sunnyvale: John Settle
- Winner faces winner between Mineola and Callisburg, state quarterfinals
- WR/LB Swade Smith, Sr., 5-11, 190 (23 catches, 349 yards, 5 TDs; 108 tackles, 32 for loss, 4 sacks, 1 forced fumble)
- DL Austin Iske, Sr., 6-1, 186 (54 tackles, 19 for loss, 6 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 2 PBUs)
- OL/DL Chris Bloyd, Sr., 5-10, 230
- QB/DB Cade Palmer, Sr., 6-0, 135 (136 of 231, 1,708 yards, 20 TDs, 5 INTs)
- LB Antonio Castiglione, Jr., 5-10, 180 (84 tackles, 11 for loss, 3 forced fumbles, 2 INTs, 7 PBUs)
- QB/WR Heath Hood, Soph., 5-9, 150 (1 start at QB, 30 of 56, 467 yards, 18 catches, 231 yards, 2 TDs)
- WR/DB Dax Davis, Sr. (43 catches, 694 yards, 6 TDs; 19 tackles, 4 INTs)
- RB/LB Connor Hearron, 6-0, 185 (199 carries, 1,001 yards, 21 TDs)
- QB Caleb McDill, Jr., 6-0, 180 (147 of 200, 2,827 yards, 37 TDs, 5 INTs; questionable for Friday)
- QB Patrick Spera, Sr., 6-0, 170 (28 of 42, 497 yards, 7 TDs, 1 INT)
- WR Lawson Ayo, Sr., 6-2, 185 (74 catches, 1,493 yards, 22 TDs)
- WR Cash Goodhart, Jr., 6-4, 190 (56 catches, 1,147 yards, 17 TDs)
- RB Jonathan Ennin, Sr., 6-0, 170 (126 yards, 733 carries, 8 TDs)
- DB Trey Sterling, Jr., 6-0, 180 (178 tackles, 3 for loss, 5 INTs)
- LB Garrett Ferguson, Sr., 5-10, 185 (176 tackles, 3 for loss)
Just the facts
- Sunnyvale starting quarterback Caleb McDill, who has about a 75 percent completion rating, is questionable for Friday. He missed last week's 38-13 win against Daingerfield.
- Aside from Daingerfield, Sunnyvale has played Eustace and Redwater from the East Texas region.
- Eustace handed Sunnyvale its only loss, 45-28, on Sept. 4 in Sunnyvale.
- Sunnyvale went 5-0 in District 6-3A Division I, but all other three teams that advanced to the playoffs from that league lost in the bi-district round. Each by multiple possessions.
- Sunnyvale receiver Lawson Ayo has 1,147 yards and 22 touchdowns on 74 catches. If he was an East Texan, he would rank second overall in receiving yardage.
- White Oak's two losses came in back-to-back weeks to a larger Bullard school and then to Mineola in its first district game. Mineola is alive on the other side of the Region II bracket.
- The Roughnecks are on a six-game winning streak and convincingly beat a Pottsboro team last week that some experts favored to win the entire region.
- White Oak will travel 55 miles to Van. Sunnyvale will go 61 miles one-way.
Key matchup: White Oak's pass rush versus Sunnyvale's aerial assault.
Whether star quarterback Caleb McDill is available for the game or not, Sunnyvale isn't trying to hide its M.O. It's an offense that leans on its passing abilities to set up the run. However, it's good in the running game as well with 2,369 ground yards of 5,693 total yards -- roughly 42 percent of the total output.
If the Roughnecks can reduce Sunnyvale into a one-dimensional offense, they're going to be in good position to win the game. And White Oak has the defensive front players to go right after Sunnyvale's absolute strength in the passing game.
Defensive lineman Austin Iske's six sacks lead the Roughnecks' 25 sacks as a team. The East Texas side also has 109 tackles for loss, indicating that the front is getting good penetration against opposing offensive lines.
This is a big game for Iske and fellow defensive front strongpoint Swade Smith, who leads the Roughnecks defense in negative plays with 36 total tackles behind the line of scrimmage as a middle linebacker. If the two can get to the quarterback, they're going to force inaccurate throws and put White Oak in position to win late down battles through the game.
Dax Davis is a threat in White Oak's secondary with four interceptions through 12 games, but the defensive backs unit as a whole will have to shoulder the load with two Sunnyvale receivers above six feet tall well past 1,000 yards on the season.
Don't be surprised if: White Oak turns to running back Connor Hearron to help it fend off Sunnyvale's offensive attack. The absolute best defense is keeping the opposing offense off the field. At six feet and 185 pounds, Hearron is a load to bring down and has sustained a lot of Roughnecks offensive drives this season with intermediate runs on third down. If Hearron is on his game Friday, White Oak will be in position to answer Sunnyvale's offense without having to get out of its own comfort zone.