TAPPS Preview: Grace, Gorman, TC-CH battling in 2nd

Crusader Daniel Schmitt carries the ball over the goal line to turn a block extra point kick into a two-point conversion during the first quarter against Brook Hill on Friday at Bishop T.K. Gorman High School in Tyler. Andrew D. Brosig/Tyler Morning Telegraph via AP

With three weeks to play, there's a three-way tie for second in TAPPS D-II District 2.

Grace Community (4-3), Trinity Christian-Cedar Hill (4-3) and Bishop Gorman (3-4) are locked at 2-1 behind league leader Dallas Christian (8-0, 4-0).

The top four teams make the playoffs, with the top two earning a home playoff game in the first round.

Bullard Brook Hill (5-2, 1-2) is still in the hunt for a playoff spot as the Guard have three games left against teams in front of them.

This week sets up what should be a thrilling finish to the season as Gorman and TC-CH face off during homecoming at McCallum Stadium, Brook Hill hosts Dallas Christian and Grace Community visits Carrollton Prince of Peace (4-3, 1-3).

"From this point forward they're all big," Gorman coach Coby Gipson said. "Every win counts the same; every loss counts the same."

All Saints (2-6, 0-4) is off this week.

 

TRINITY CHRISTIAN-CEDAR HILL AT BISHOP GORMAN

The district's two best passing teams battle at McCallum Stadium during homecoming for Gorman.

The Crusaders average 413.6 yards per game through the air while the Tigers throw for 245.0 per game.

Gorman sophomore quarterback Jake Smith leads the league with 2,669 yards, going for 24 touchdowns with six interceptions.

Trinity Christian junior Calab Powers has 1,685 yards passing, with 19 touchdowns to 10 interceptions.

The Crusader defense hasn't faced too many pass-oriented teams this year but it sees one every day on the practice field.

"I think in practice we get to see a passing game very similar to Trinity Christian-Cedar Hill," Gipson said. "We need to do a good job in secondary and also in the box of getting a little pressure on the quarterback and make him get the ball out before he wants to."

Of course, the matchup of passing teams also features plenty of receivers.

Crusaders senior Judah Bell is the area's top pass catcher with 61 receptions for 1,394 yards and 10 touchdowns while Tyler Hobbs has 33 grabs, 688 yards and eight TDs.

Trenton Chambers leads the Tigers with 584 yards and seven scores on 34 catches while Camiron Smith adds 583 yards and five touchdowns on 26 receptions.

"(They're) very speedy, very athletic and they have a new coach that's really got them playing at a high level," Gipson said of TC-CH. "Everywhere you look you see a threat that could take a short pass and go score at any point."

With a homecoming crowd in the stands to watch a vital district game, the Crusaders will have every reason to fight for the win.

"Our players really want to do well for them and give them a great reason to come back and enjoy the game," Gipson said.

 

GRACE COMMUNITY AT CARROLLTON PRINCE OF PEACE

Prince of Peace is the fourth Grace opponent to run some version of the triple-option.

The Eagles might be one of the best at it - they're certainly the biggest.

"This team has the most size and probably the most physical team running the ball and blocking that we will have faced up to this point," Cougars coach Mike Maddox said.

Prince of Peace has run for 1,939 yards this year compared to 130 yards through the air.

Grace, meanwhile, has run for 2,017 yards while adding in 1,271 yards passing.

Running back Uchenna Uduma has 873 yards and 11 touchdowns to lead the Cougars while quarterback Jackson Garrett leads the Eagles with 612 yards and six touchdowns.

Grace is coming off its largest win of the year, a 56-0 victory over All Saints, its second straight win.

Prince of Peace has lost two straight, including last week's 70-26 defeat to TC-CH, its worst defeat of the year.

However the Eagles still have an outside shot of making the playoffs if they win out.

Grace, meanwhile, still has to play local rivals Gorman and Brook Hill to close out the season with a possible home playoff game on the line.

"It's big for all of us; Prince of Peace is right in there," Maddox said. "This adds a little more pressure for them to play well in front of their home crowd. We know we're going to get their best effort. We're going to have to give our best effort."

 

DALLAS CHRISTIAN AT BULLARD BROOK HILL

Brook Hill tries to snap a two-game skid by upsetting No. 1 Dallas Christian at Herrington Stadium.

The Guard have had two weeks to prepare for the Chargers and needed the rest following a disheartening 63-32 loss to Gorman on Oct. 7, after which coach Scott Ryle simply stated his team did not play well.

"We had some protection busts," Ryle said of Gorman's constant presence in Brook Hill's backfield. "They did a good job but we made a lot of mental mistakes. We got back to basics and focused on ourselves last week (during the bye).

"The kids are fired up (to play Dallas Christian). They know they have a tough task, but you rarely have the opportunity to play the No. 1 team in the state and that's what we get on Friday."

Brook Hill welcomed junior quarterback Hood Taylor back to practice this week. The Guard are 0-2 since Taylor suffered an injury. Ryle said it will be a game-time decision on whether he plays against DC.

The Guard lost 55-7 to Dallas Christian last year but are only two years removed from stunning the Chargers 23-20 on the road, DC's most recent district defeat.

"We have to start out fast and continue to move the ball," Ryle said. "You have to take some chances and hope you get some turnovers. You can't make mistakes. You can't have botched special teams and you have to continue to move the chains."

- Chris Parry

TWITTER: @TYoestingETFS

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