As shown in the banner above the Jonesboro-Hodge Tigers enjoyed a grand meal prepared by Denise and Roy Barlow but as good as it was, they are still hungry! It isn’t food they are wanting though but a chance to compete for the Class AA state title in the Superdome. Fortunately, they won’t have to go far to play round one of the LHSAA playoffs.
As result of their 8-2 regular season record, that included being in a three way tie for the best record in district 1-2A, the “Road to the Dome” will begin right here in Jonesboro at Caldwell-Peacock stadium this Friday evening. By earning the #7 seed the Tigers will get to host #27 Oakdale at 7:00pm. Regardless of the lofty ranking and lower seeding, JHHS head coach Terrance Blankenship isn’t looking any further than
“We had a really good regular season, accomplished some goals and now get to play a playoff game in front of our fans,” said JHHS head coach Terrance Blankenship. “All of that is good but none of that matters now as everybody is 0-0 once again and every game is a do or die situation and as anyone who knows football knows, anything can happen in the playoffs.”
Dangerous Opponent: After beginning the season with a 3-3 record, Oakdale comes to J-Hodge having won three of their last four games. Over those four game the Warriors are averaging just under 36 points per game. This is almost 10 points a game better than their season average of 27.7 ppg. Adding to the momentum is the fact that Oakdale is starting their playoff run sky high after enjoying somewhat of a renaissance year. This is the first time in over a decade that they have assured themselves of a winning season . After ending that slide the Warriors will also be looking to stop their streak of five straight first round playoff losses.
An Achilles Heel? What makes Oakdale most dangerous to derailing the Tigers is the fact that they like to run, run, run and run some more. So did Winnfield, Cedar Creek and D’Arbonne Woods. Two of those teams beat J-H this seasonnad Cedar Creek came close, each by punishing J-H with a time controlling ground attack.
Counter attack: It is a given that Oakdale likes to run the ball. Another given is that Xavier Atkins is very adept at tackling runners. So adept in fact, that the sensational sophmore led the state in tackles with a school record 167 stops. That computes to another school record average of 18.6 tackels per game. His 136 solo stops (another school record) is an amazing 44 better than the next closest competitor. Junior Peyton Smith has also had an incredible defensive season making 73 stops on the defensive line. That is just 10 more than another lineman, Javeon Andrews, who also has 13 tackles for a loss and 4 forced fumbles.
Aerial advantage: Oakdale has given up 24.2 points per game and most of it has come from teams passing the ball for scores. That plays right up the Tigers alley. Led by Tydre Malone, who is now the all time leader of virtually every passing statistic and nearing single season standards, the Tigers have proven to be very prolific through the airways. Nineteen of the twenty-nine touchdowns tha the Tigers have scored offensively this season have been passing touchdowns, including ten of the last twelve.
Three Amigos: One of the deepest receiving corps in Tiger history is also one of the best defensive backfields that has ever donned the red, white and blue. The scoring leader of the group is Devontea Mozee, who is a tremendously dynamic player that is a threat to score everytime he touches the ball whether on offense or defense. He has caught 23 passes for 588 yards and 6 passes for a TD. Twelve of those have come from Malone and the other four from opponent QB’s. He also has a punt return for a score to his credit. Justin Calahan leads the corp with 27 catches for 415 yards and six scores as well as a 71 yard INT for TD. Jay Lewis is just one behind Mozee in receptions and onebehind Calahan in yardage. Two of his three TD’s came last week. He also has an INT and two forced fumbles to go along with his 56 tackles on the year.
One at a time: Looking past any opponent is never a good idea in the playoffs, but if the Tigers win their first round game then Round Two will also be played at home against the winner of #10 Mangham or #23 Capital as shown below. For a full look at the Class 2A bracket go to LHSAA.com and click on Class 2A playoff.
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