Aledo vs. Ennis
Time: 3:30 p.m., Saturday
Site: Don Floyd Field (Midlothian ISD Multi-purpose Stadium)
US-287 & S 14th St -- Midlothian
Type: Class 4A, Division II, Semifinal playoff
Last year: Did not play
Ennis Lions (14-0)
Season: First seed from District 15-4A (7-0)
Last week: Beat Mesquite Poteet, 43-21
Players to watch: RB Terrence Williams (6-3, 215, 4.6); FS Jah’Shawn Johnson (5-10, 175, 4.5); DE James Lockhart (6-3, 255, 4.8); QB Devin Smith; RB Nick Gabriel; DB Taylor Thompson.
Aledo Bearcats (14-0)
Season: Winner of District 7-4A (7-0)
Last week: Beat Wichita Falls, 69-14
Players to watch: LB Jordan Mittie (6-2, 210, 4.8), OT Cory Stitle (6-2, 265, 5.0), QB Luke Bishop (5-10, 170, 4.7), ATH Ryan Newsome (5-8, 168, 4.5), FB Daythan Davis (6-2. 218, 4.7), WR Taco Anderson.
Game notes: If Aledo’s schedule throughout the 2013 season had mandated that the starting lineups remain on the field for the entire game, including Monday’s win over Wichita Falls, the fact that the Ennis’ last game gave the Lions four “extra” days of rest might mean something. Since a week ago Thursday, which seems like an “ice age” ago, Ennis has been in rest-and-heal mode.
But very often this season, and unfortunately at the cost of a sufficient number of game-play reps, the Bearcats first lineups have gotten plenty of rest. With most of the starting offense taking a seat after the first series of the third quarter on Monday, the abbreviated week was probably not short enough for the Aledo players.
The Lions, who were down to Poteet in the 4A quarterfinal by a failed extra point at the end of the half, pulled ahead in the third, then took advantage of the Pirates’ hampered passing game, pulling away with three-straight pick-six interceptions in the final period.
Ennis has formidable offensive weapons, and is a bit deeper in skill players than most teams Aledo has faced this season. Starting with quarterback Devin Smith, who has thrown for more than 2,000 yards through 14 games and is the third-leading rusher for the Lions.
Ennis’ two leading rushers, Terrence Williams and Nick Gabriel, are both 1,000+ rushers who provide a nice contrast (big-bruiser vs. fleet footed) for the Lions’ running game. Williams is also Smith’s favorite target out of the backfield. The Lions have been on a very productive streak through their last five contests at a 55 PPG clip.
The Ennis defense stepped up in the second half against Poteet and, while not showing the shut-down capacity that Aledo has displayed, have also not been compromised by more than 28 points in any game this season.
While Ennis has decent depth on both sides of the ball, it is not an overstatement that Aledo’s squad is deep — and wide. The distribution of offensive players included in the weekly mix is beyond impressive, with starting running back Jess Anders topping the yardage producers, the “headache” stat for opposing defenses is that Aledo’s top five rushers carry the ball a combined average of 9.8 yards per touch.
But with Aledo’s offense and special teams breaking new ground with a national record of points scored in a season, the daunting presence of the Bearcat defense is the thing opposing offensive coordinator nightmares are made of. Even if the Aledo offense was not quite so prolific, the defense will keep them in the game.
The other semifinal match in Class 4A’s Division II playoffs pits semi-familiar past foe Brenham (2009 final) against Port Lavaca-based Calhoun. Both teams sit at 13-1, and will meet in Houston’s Reliant Stadium. Aledo and Ennis will likely know who their prospective state final opponent will be (if the coaches let them in on the news), with a noon start in Houston.