State Game Previews

Leman Saunders

Six-man expert
Here ya guy's take...and I have these games much closer than the other prognosticators! I encourage all who can to make the trip to watch these game live!

1A DII Follett v Strawn
A rematch of the 2008 DI state championship game pits the Strawn Greyhounds versus the Follett Panthers.

The Follett Panthers, under first year head coach Andy Copley, are making their sixth title game appearance and will be coming in as underdogs. They have perfected an old school style of grind it out game running a tight offense that will milk the clock. QB Christian Barber runs the offense, RB Dylan Howard is the main ball carrier, but backs Luis Loya and Josh Stuart are key players in the Panthers “five yards and a cloud of dust” rushing attack. What really gives the Panthers teeth is their overall team size, for a DII team they are very sizeable and strong which is why they are so successful at the power run game.

Strawn has been the #1 team in DII since day one, don’t let their two losses fool you, as they were to DI #1 McLean and DI semi-finalist Garden City. So many returning all-state players off last season state championship team makes them the clear favorites in this game. The Greyhounds have a good balance of size and speed which makes them so deadly on offense and defense. Power backs Tanner Hodgkins (5-11, 195) and Ivan Ruiz (5-10, 195) pair well with speedy backs Julian Fraga and Carlos Villanueva. The size and strength of their defensive front Hodgkins, Ruiz and Marco Lopez balances with their fast secondary of Villanueva, JW Montgomery, and Jr Cervantes.

In order to win Follett has to play a perfect game, jump out to an early lead, win the turnover battle, convert every extra point, and make Strawn play their type of game which will make the clock a big enemy of the Greyhounds. All that is very possible, especially with the overall size of the Follett team which can grind out five-seven yards a carry at a time and set up their passing game with Barber to pick apart Strawn’s defense.

However, it is Strawn they are going up against. The Greyhounds size on the line will be able to match up well with Follett’s and the same goes for the Greyhounds power running game. I think the speed of the Greyhounds combined with the fact that they have more weapons in their arsenal for the Panthers to worry about will be the difference… but Follett will put up a great fight! Strawn 44 Follett 32

Historical Notes: These teams played of the DI 6man state title in 2008 at Lowery Field in Lubbock, TX. Strawn won 58-29. They have only met twice, both times in 2008 with Strawn winning both games (46-0 in week zero, 58-29 at state)

This will be Follett’s sixth state title game appearance having one only one title (1974): 8man – 1974, 1975; 6man – 2008, 2012, 2015, 2018

This will be Strawn’s fifth state title game appearance having won three (2003, 2008, 2017): 6man – 2003, 2008, 2009, 2017, 2018 ... zQhJSNh0ac

DI - McLean v Milford
The McLean Tigers are the lone undefeated team in class 1A and seem to be the team of destiny this season as they look for their first state championship. In their way stand the Milford Bulldogs, who will be making their sixth state title appearance looking for their first championship since 1980.

Both teams have size, but McLean top to bottom has the overall size advantage. Both teams have speed, but Milford has the edge in overall team speed with an excellent backfield and speedy receivers. Both teams feature legit Player of the Year candidates with McLean’s RB Ben Crockett and Milford’s SB Taron Smith. McLean favors the run, but can throw the ball well with QB Cayden Mann. Milford’s Smith, with his receiving core, favors the passing game, but Smith can run with the best and RB Ricky Pendleton is just as dangerous running the ball.

Needless to say I LOVE this matchup! While the playmakers are going to be great to watch in this game, I think this matchup comes down to who wins out in the trenches, McLean’s offensive line or Milford’s defensive line.

Milford’s defensive front is anchored by firecracker all-stater DE Corbin Schrotke (5-7, 160) and big man Jasean Brooks (6-2, 230) at the nose guard position, with Jaylon Davis (5-8, 175) and Ricky Pendleton (6-3, 230) also playing on the defensive line. With their speed off the line they do a great job at getting contact in the backfield, pressuring quarterbacks, and forcing turnovers.

McLean’s offensive line is the best in class 1A. They have been wearing down defenses all season simply due to their great size advantage. Their starters, Bradley Hannon, Kade Reichman and Kater Tate, are 6’0, 6’2, 6’5 averaging 200 pounds.

Milford’s pure play making ability offensively with Smith and Pendleton will keep them in this game undoubtedly, however I don’t think over the course of the game the Bulldog’s defensive front can withstand the constant barrage of the McLean offensive line and beating from their big powerful backs, namely Crockett. I think McLean claims their first title in an epic game. McLean 72 Milford 64

Historical Notes:
These two schools have never played each other before on the grid iron.

McLean – Playing for their first state title. The farthest they have ever advanced before this season was the semi-finals in 1990 losing to Fort Hancock 54-8, but they were forced to forfeit games that season after the fact due to use of an ineligible player, vacating all their wins and trophies, including being able to say they were a semi-finalist team.

Milford – This will be Milford’s sixth state title game appearance having won two state championships (1979, 1980). 6man – 1979, 1980, 1994, 1995, 2013, 2018. Milford is a team chalked full of legacies, three of the four coaches went to Milford including HC Ronny Crumpton; and many of the players have close relatives that played on the title contenders of the past including Taron Smith, Ricky Pendleton, and Jaseasn Brooks. ... FxzYBxnrZY
Great breakdown.
I agree on the Milford game, it will come down to a missed tackle or fumble.
It could also be a blowout either way.
That is what could make it a great game.
Leman, you’ve done a fantastic job with your game previews throughout the season and I have always looked forward to them! I’ve always been amazed by your Sixman knowledge, as well as Granger.

I’m excited for the games Wednesday and I sure hope the teams put on a show! Praying for safe travels to all going to Jerry’s World and no injuries for all involved. Good Luck everyone!!