Heidi Dutcher/WD Sports

Aledo’s defense has allowed an average 17 points per game this season, while Red Oak’s offense has scored an average 57 points per game.

Both the Aledo Bearcats and Red Oak Hawks enter Friday’s Class 5A, D-II regional semifinals game at AT&T Stadium with 11-1 records, just as both squads are in the midst of 11-game win-streaks.

Aledo, in the midst of a chase for the program’s ninth state football championship, will look to make it 12 in a row, however, the road to the next round will be no cakewalk, Bearcats’ Head Coach Tim Buchanan said.

“Red Oak is a well-coached football team,” Buchanan said.

“Coach [Chris] Ross  is one of the better high school football coaches in Texas and they’re not gonna lay down. It’s gonna be a fight to the end. 

Aledo has won big throughout 2019, owning a positive point differential of 665-206, averaging 55 points per game while allowing only an average 17 points per game.

Over the course of its first two playoff games, Aledo has won by a combined margin of 129-31.

At the same time, Red Oak’s own offense had done its share of lighting up scoreboards, actually scoring more points on the season (680) than Aledo.

Buchanan said the Hawks’ offense thrives on chunk plays and will look to hit quick scoring strikes.

“Offensively, they’re a big play team,” Buchanan said.

“They’ve got two, really three wide receivers who can take it to the house on any play. But they also have a really big, strong running back that can ground and pound. If you start dropping seven or eight guys kind of like you teams do against us, they’re gonna hand it to No. 15, C.J. Palmer You’ve got to get more than one guy to him, one guy is not going to tackle their running back consistently. 

“They’re a well-balanced football team.”

Palmer, Red Oak’s leading rusher, has exemplified that big-play ability, having accrued 1,438 rushing yards and 21 TDs on 130 carries, with the tailback averaging a monster 11.1 yards per carry.

The Hawks’ propensity for chunk plays, as Buchanan noted, is also present in Red Oaks’ passing game, led by quarterback Joshua Ervin, who has completed 125 of 178 pass attempts for 2,599 yards and a 38:4 touchdown to interception ratio, averaging 20.8 yards per attempt.

Wide out Coby Cavil has proven Ervin’s biggest target, hauling in 59 receptions for 1,228 yards and 16 TDs.

With that said, Aledo’s defense has done well largely negating usually potent offenses this season, allowing only 17 points per game.

The Bearcats’ ability to create turnovers (nine interceptions, 15 fumble recoveries through the Royse City game) in particular will prove vital Friday, Buchanan said.

“First of all, you’ve got to play well in all aspects of the game; special teams, offense and defense,” Buchanan said.

“But it’s gonna come down to who plays better defense and creates more turnovers. We’re gonna have to keep the pressure on.”

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Friday at Arlington’s AT&T Stadium.

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