East Texas High School Football Semifinal Preview Capsules

Arp football players celebrate their win over Newton Friday Dec. 2, 2016 at Dragon Stadium in Nacogdoches. (Sarah A. Miller/Tyler Morning Telegraph)

MINEOLA YELLOWJACKETS vs. WALL HAWKS

What: Class 3A Division I Semifinals

Where: Waco ISD Stadium

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Records: Mineola 12-2; Wall 11-3

Last Week’s Results: Mineola 46, Pottsboro 3; Wall 28, Brock 17

2015 Result: Did not play

Quick Slant: These two teams both have the distinction of losing to Cameron Yoe in recent state championship games. Mineola was stopped 70-40 in 2014 with Wall losing 35-14 in 2013. Mineola enters this game on a 12-game winning streak after dismantling Pottsboro last week. Wall’s last loss was Oct. 21 at Midland Christian (reached the TAPPS Division II semifinals). The Hawks avenged their regional round loss to Brock last week. In so doing Wall denied Mineola a chance to avenge its semifinal loss to the eventual state champs. Mineola is seeking its second trip to the state championship game in three years with Wall in the semifinals for the third time in five years. The winner of this game faces the winner of Malakoff and Yoakum in the 3A Division II state title game at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 15, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

What to know about Mineola: The Yellowjackets are firing on all cylinders and roll into this state semifinal averaging 45.9 points per game. Thus far in the playoffs, Mineola has outscored its four opponents 172-57. Mineola is doing it with a relentless high-powered rushing attack piloted by quarterback Jeremiah Crawford. The senior is in the state semifinals for a third time and leads the Yellowjackets with 2,338 yards rushing and 37 touchdowns. When asked to put the ball in the air, Crawford is completing 45 of 96 passes for 815 yards and 15 scores. Crawford is one half of a veteran backfield with senior Chantz Perkins averaging 8.1 yards per carry. He has rushed 139 times for 1,132 yards and 16 TDs. In the 2014 state semifinals, Perkins rushed for 360 yards and scored three touchdowns. Also, seven different Mineola players have receiving touchdowns, led by senior Kourtland Sinches, who leads with five, averaging 17.5 yards per catch. The defense has been impenetrable, except for the first half in a 50-33 area playoff win over Pottsboro. Take that game out and Mineola has allowed 17 points or less in nine games. Junior free safety Cameron Sorenson leads the ’Jackets with 123 tackles to go with nine pass breakups, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and four tackles for loss. Sinches, also a defensive end, has a team-leading 19 quarterback hurries and eight sacks. Junior Michael Drennon (82 tackles , 5 forced fumbles) returned from injury near the end of the regular season and has led Mineola in the playoffs, along with senior safety Aaron Stanford. The two combined last week for 25 tackles, three tackles for loss, three quarterback hurries and one pass breakup.

What to know about Wall: The Hawks have been knocking on the door in pursuit of the program’s first state title, first reaching the quarterfinals in 2010. Wall was denied in the 2012 semifinals by Breckenridge, lost in the championship to Yoe in 2013 and was stopped by Brock in the third round in 2014 and 2015. Wall brings an explosive offense to this contest that averages 45.8 points per game. In the playoffs the Hawks are surrendering 19.2 points per game. Like the Yellowjackets, Wall prefers to keep the ball on the ground with senior Thomas Halfmann averaging 14.6 yards per carry for 1,257 yards and 16 touchdowns. He is one of five ball carriers to have 400 yards or more with junior Brock Rosenquist (134-888, 17 TDs), Casey Braden (90-798, 11 TDs) and Tymber Carr (63-624, 7 TDs) all ones to watch. Rosenquist is Wall’s leading passer with 15 completions for 428 yards and three touchdowns. On defense Wall has four players with 100 or more tackles, led by junior Lucas Garcia (135 tackles). The Hawks have 19 sacks, recovered 15 fumbles and intercepted 21 passes. Last week against Brock, Wall held the defending state champs to 244 yards rushing and had two interceptions.

- Chris Parry

ARP TIGERS vs. BOLING BULLDOGS

What: Class 3A Division II Semifinals

Where: Texan Drive Stadium, New Caney

When: 7:30 p.m. p.m. Friday

Records: Arp 12-2; Boling 12-2

Last Week’s Results: Arp 13, Newton 7; Boling 34,

Lexington 29

2015 Result: Did not play

Quick Slant: The last time Arp and Boling played in respective semifinals, bellbottoms were in style. Boling reached the semifinals and won in 1972 before bowing out in the in the championship to Rockwall. Arp last played in the semifinals 1977. Arp is aiming to advance to its program’s first state championship game. The teams reached this point in different ways, too. Arp has smothered its opposition, the most recent victim being unbeaten Newton, while Boling has used its offense to outscore teams with the Bulldogs averaging 46.7 points in their four postseason outings. The winner of this gets the winner of Canadian and Gunter in the 3A Division II championship at 5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 15, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

What to know about Arp: The Arp Tigers, coached by Dale Irwin in his 14th season, are not fancy and aren’t going to wow you with 300-yard passing games. What Arp is going to do is make every snap, every play count when it has the ball and make sure the opposition has as little time as possible to do something when it finally gets possession. Irwin has a goal of holding teams to six possessions or less in a game. The Tigers accomplish this with a methodical, successful power rushing attack that has accounted for 4,113 yards and 57 touchdowns. Kayce Medlock leads Arp with 1,125 yards and 16 scores with Demontre Wade delivering 977 yards and 11 TDs. Quarterback Tyler Stewart has completed 36 passes for 784 yards and 9 TDs while carrying the ball 151 times for 749 yards and 12 scores. Rounding out the top rushers for Arp is Skyler Hotaling, who has 619 yards and nine touchdowns. JaCoby Hawkins leads the Tigers in receiving with 20 catches for 417 yards and three TDs, averaging 20.9 yards per catch. The other half of Arp’s ball-control strategy is spearheaded by an unforgiving defense, led by junior free safety Demarvion Overshown, who has 153 tackles and three interceptions. Senior middle linebacker Terry Nance has 100 tackles. All told, Arp has 59 tackles for loss, 11 interceptions and 12 fumble recoveries. The Tigers have held opponents this season to 14 points or less nine times.

What to know about Boling: The Bulldogs begin with their junior quarterback Vernon Jackson, who is listed at 6-3, 235 pounds. He has already been offered by TCU and it’s easy to see why based on his performance in last week’s state quarterfinal win over Lexington. Jackson rushed for 281 yards and scored five touchdowns on runs of 69, 81, 65, 13 and 14 yards. Boling trailed 14-0 in the game before Jackson took over, first converting a third-and-long with a 69-yard scoring run. That was followed up by an 81-yard take to the house. All of this despite Lexington putting nine and sometimes 10 in the box to try to force Boling to pass, which it did just twice in its victory. In its quarterfinal win a week earlier Jackson rushed for 497 yards and seven touchdowns on 23 carries. The junior all-everything player for Boling is averaging 14.2 yards per run and 151 yards per game. He has 32 touchdowns this season. When asked to throw, Jackson has completed 54 of 90 for 795 yards and 6 TDs. The Boling defense was stout during the regular season, holding opposing teams to 14 points or less seven times. In the playoffs, Jackson’s scoring has overcome Boling allowing 28 points per game.

- Chris Parry

MALAKOFF TIGERS vs. YOAKUM BULLDOGS

What: Class 3A Division I Semifinals

Where: Darrel K. Royal Stadium, Austin

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Records: Malakoff 14-0; Yoakum 10-4

Last Week’s Results: Malakoff 37, Cameron Yoe 34 (OT); Yoakum 27, Hallettsville 23

2015 Result: Did not play

Quick Slant: Prior to this season, the furthest Malakoff had ventured into the playoffs was the second round, so for a school that made its first playoff appearance in 1939 to be one win away from reaching the program’s first state final shows a lot about how far Malakoff has come. The unbeaten Tigers avenged last year’s heartbreaking 45-45 playoff loss to Cameron Yoe by defeating the three-time state champion Yoeman in overtime. The last time Yoakum was in the state semifinals was 1952 and that team went on to lose in the championship. The winner of this game gets the winner of Mineola-Wall in the 3A Division II state title game at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 15 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

What to know about Malakoff: The Tigers trailed twice against Yoe before rallying back to win the game last week. The game-tying play in regulation was a 14-yard TD pass from Judd Miller to Tyler Russell. Malakoff still trailed by two points, 34-32, but got the two-point conversion on another Miller to Russell pass. The Tigers eventually won the game on a field goal in overtime from Everado Garcia. Malakoff’s defense played a big role in being able to come back and win. The Tigers stop unit is allowing just 14.7 points per game. Malakoff running back Bre’shawn Williams leads the Tigers with 1,200 yards rushing.

What to know about Yoakum: The Bulldogs are pretty much run-first team head coach Bo Robinson, who is in his second year at Yoakum. Robinson has been here before, as head coach of Bangs, which he led twice to the state championship game. Yoakum has combined for 3,670 yards rushing with senior Henry Enoch the leading ground gainer with 156 carries for 1,071 yards and 16 touchdowns. Junior Tyron Brooks is averaging 8.2 yards per carry for 613 yards and seven scores. Yoakum has had success in its passing game, mainly out of play-action, with sophomore Holden Lauer leading the team with 54 completions n 99 attempts for 809 yards and eight touchdowns. On defense, Yoakum is giving up 22.7 points per game.

- Chris Parry

SWEETWATER MUSTANGS vs. GILMER BUCKEYES

What: Class 4A Division II Semifinals

Where: Baylor’s McLane Stadium, Waco

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Records: Sweetwater 12-1; Gilmer 13-1

Last Week’s Results: Sweetwater 38, Seminole 14; Gilmer 43, Celina 17

2015 Result: Did not play

Quick Slant: This marks the first meeting between Sweetwater and Gilmer, and it comes in the 2016 Division II State Semifinals. This is also the Buckeyes’ first game at Baylor’s McLane Stadium on the banks of the Brazos River in Waco. This marks Gilmer’s third appearance in the state semifinals in the last three years. The Buckeyes are 1-1 in their two previous semifinal appearances. If averages are true to form this should be a high-scoring contest. The winner faces either West Orange-Stark (14-0) or Geronimo Navarro (14-0) on Friday, Dec. 16 at noon in the Division II Championship Game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

What to know about Sweetwater: The Mustangs enter the matchup averaging a hefty 45.5 points per game for the season and 42.5 in four playoff games. Sweetwater has scored as many as 80 in an 80-38 win over Pecos, and 60 against Big Spring, and as few as 16 in their only loss to Monahans (19-16) on Oct. 28. The Mustangs have won five in a row since then. Junior QB Chris Thompson and RB Jacoby Hunt have accounted for almost 5,000 yards (4,838). Thompson is 197 of 292 passing for 2,750 yards and 32 touchdowns. He has also rushed for 973 yards and 20 touchdowns while Hunt leads all rushers with 1,115 yards and 11 TDs on 171 carries. Thompson’s primary receiver has been Kobe Clark, who has 64 receptions for 1,104 yards and 12 touchdowns. Following close behind is Jordan McGee with 55 catches for 836 yards and 13 touchdowns. Defensively, Sweetwater is allowing 16 ppg for the season and 15.7 for the playoffs. The Mustangs’ leading tacklers have been LBs Hunter Mobley with 142 tackles and 15 TFL, and Kiante McCoy with 110 tackles and 9 TFL, and Keenan Cox with 4 sacks and 5 hurries. The Sweetwater defense has 32 takeaways (19 interceptions and 13 fumble recoveries).

What to know about Gilmer: The Buckeyes stretched their current win streak to 10, following a 55-37 loss to Carthage on Sept. 17 with last week’s victory. The Buckeyes are averaging 49.2 for the season and 49.5 in the postseason, while allowing 27.2 over the course of the season, but just 18 per playoff game. Any opposition has the formidable task of slowing a potent Gilmer offense led by QB Aaron ‘Poppy’ Brown. Brown is coming off a 345-yard passing performance with four touchdowns against Celina a week ago. Brown, who set the school’s single-season record for passing yardage two weeks ago, completed 15 of 31 attempts against the Bobcats. For the season the junior is 327 of 494 passing for 4,659 yards and 46 touchdowns with 10 INTs. LaMarcus Morton (an Oklahoma State verbal commit) leads the team in receiving with 63 catches for 1,291 yards and 14 touchdowns, and WR Red Jones (56 for 837, 9 TDs) also needs to be accounted for. Tailback Qua Heath has 51 receptions for 697 yards and eight TDs and RB Kelton Collier is the teams’ leading rusher with 866 yards and 17 touchdowns. Gilmer’s defense is allowing an average of 129.6 passing yards and 188.5 rushing yards per game. The Buckeyes have 46 sacks and 24 takeaways (11 interceptions and 13 fumble recoveries). S Kollin Hurt, a Division I commit to Louisiana Tech, and LB Jeremy Kelly have been the Buckeyes’ leading tacklers. Hurt has 136 tackles, 2 TFL and 3 INT, while Kelly has 126 stops, 14 TFL, 1 FF, 4 FR, 2 INT and 5 sacks.

- Joe Hale

CARTHAGE BULLDOGS vs. CHINA SPRING COUGARS

What: Class 4A Division I Semifinals

Where: Ford Center at The Star, Frisco

When: 4 p.m. Saturday

Records: Carthage (11-2); China Spring (13-1)

Last Week’s Results: Carthage 27, Stafford 26; China Spring 21, Waco La Vega 10

2015 Result: Did not play

Quick Slant: Carthage has won eight in a row since back-to-back district losses to Henderson (Sept. 30) and Kilgore (Oct. 7). Coach Scott Surratt is in his 10th season as the head coach of the Bulldogs, and Carthage is 39-5 in the playoffs with four state championships. … China Spring won the 1978 state championship and finished as the 1979 and 2007 state runners up. Like Carthage, the Cougars have won eight in a row since a 17-10 loss to defending state champion Waco La Vega on Oct. 14. China Spring avenged that loss with a 21-10 victory over La Vega in last week’s Regional Final (state quarterfinal). The win snapped La Vega’s 29-game winning streak. The winner faces either Abilene Wylie (11-1) or Kennedale (11-3) on Friday in the Division I Championship Game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

What to know about China Spring: The Cougars are averaging 40.0 ppg in the playoffs and allowing just 12. For the season those numbers are 45.6 and 14.0. Scoring points has not been a problem for China Spring. The Cougars have scored as many as 70 against Troy, and 63 a week earlier against Cameron Yoe. They have scored 50 or more points in two of their four playoff games thus far. … QB Cutter Haigood was a wide receiver last season. He led last week’s win with 133 rushing yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. WR Cayden Johnson and RB Keaton Dudik also scored in the game. Haigood and Dudik have provided the Cougars a potent 1-2 rushing attack. Dudik has rushed for more than 654 yards in four playoff games. TE Tyrick James. OL Tre Harris. Ten China Spring opponents have scored two touchdowns or less on the Cougars defense. OLB Kody Fulp is a verbal commit to the University of North Texas. OLB, Traveler Surley, had an interception in last week’s victory over La Vega. LBs Brayden Mathis and Shannon Beaman along with Fulp and Surley make a formidable linebacking crew. Mathis was the Waco Tribune’s SuperCentex Defensive Newcomer of the Year last season as a sophomore with 173 tackles.

What to know about Carthage: Carthage enters this showdown against China Spring, averaging 32.2 points per game for the season, and 24.2 in the playoffs. Carthage QB Kason Davis was 19 of 39 against Stafford for 200 yards and two touchdowns. For the season, Davis, a senior, is 209 of 355 passing the football for 2,986 yards with 28 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Once again, Keaontay Ingram proved himself invaluable as the go-to back in the Bulldogs’ offense, rushing for 106 yards and a touchdown on a 39-yard run in the third quarter. Ingram also caught nine passes for 84 yards. The Bulldogs’ leading receivers are WRs Dee Bowens (52-796) and Dewaylon Ingram (51-825), along with Keaontay Ingram with 43 receptions for 475 yards. The Carthage defense should take a bow for last week’s victory over Stafford. Why? The ’Dawgs shut the Spartans out in the second half, enabling the Carthage offense to rally from a 26-14 halftime deficit to secure the victory. To accomplish what the Bulldogs did, recover a couple of fumbles and come away with two interceptions was significant in limiting the Spartans to 316 yards of total offense (32-144 rushing; 9 of 28 for 172 passing). Leading the way were DE Montario Wilson with 13 tackles, MLB Mikael Gates with 11 and LB Jase Dixon with 10 tackles. For the season, Gates leads with 136 tackles. He also has 16 TFL, 3 CF, 2 FR and 2 INT. Dixon is next in line with 133 tackles, 14 TFL, 4 CF, 3 FR, 1 Sk and 2 scores. Other leaders on the stop unit are Wilson and DE Trey Gatlin. Wilson has 87 tackles, 14 TFL to go along with 11 pressures, 1 CF, 1 FR and 3 Sk, while Gatlin has 88 tackles, 14 TFL, 21 pressures, 3 CF, 1 FR and 3 Sk.

- Joe Hale

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