FRISCO, Texas – Listen closely and you’ll hear the concern in Josh Gibson’s voice.
Pleasant Grove’s football coach is confident in his team, but at the same time expects Pittsburg to give his Hawks a stiff challenge Friday night at The Star, home indoor practice field for the Dallas Cowboys. The contest is scheduled to kick off at 8:30 p.m. Glen Rose and Iowa Park play at the same site earlier, the winner advancing to play the Hawks or Pittsburg.
“It’s a fourth round playoff game which means it’s going to be a tough one,” said Gibson. “They’ve got a good football team. We’re trying to focus on our team, and see if we can take another step. Pittsburg has playmakers at quarterback (Jaylon Jimmerson), receivers (Keithlen Griffin and Keontae Burns) and running back (Desmond Allen).
“I thought our depth was a big factor the first time we played them this year (PG won 45-20). However, they’re playing much better late in their games now. They were tied with Rusk, and scored two touchdowns in the final two minutes to win their second playoff game. It was the same last week against Lorena.”
Another shootout could be in the making
Both teams have great defenses, but indications say this second encounter could be another shootout.
Jimmerson leads the third-ranked (MaxPreps) Pirates with 1,197 yards rushing and 21 touchdowns. He’s completed 186 of 300 passes for 2,371 yards and 21 TDs. Jimmerson is also one of the most dangerous punt returns in Texas, averaging 24.9 yards on 30 returns. Griffin is his favorite target with 70 catches for 1,073 yards and 14 TDs. Burns has 53 receptions for 622 yards. Allen has rushed 1,197 yards and 21 TDs.
The numbers are equally impressive on defense where senior Camryn Edney has 150 tackles, 27 behind the line of scrimmage. Mason Monts has 130 tackles, and don’t forget Jimmerson’s six interceptions.
Many fans are curious as to why two East Texas schools are playing in Frisco. There’s a 100 percent chance of rain Friday, and most schools in Texas have moved their games from Friday to Thursday.
“Nobody wants to go to a football game outside when there’s such a big chance of rain,” Gibson said. “We understand that only our truest fans will probably be there Friday. If we were playing close to home, there probably wouldn’t be many in the stands with it raining. We’re getting a climate-controlled environment where weather will not dictate the game.”
Hawks also have impressive offensive numbers
Pittsburg (10-3) isn’t the only team with impressive statistics.
Pleasant Grove (11-2) quarterback Ben Harmon has passed for 1,717 yards and 26 touchdowns from the Hawks’ slot-t formation. He’s rushed for 340 yards and 9 TDs. His favorite targets have been Jackson Cobb, Brett Walker and Kamren Woods.
Still, the Hawks butter their bread with the running game. Junior Bruce Garrett has rushed for 1,470 yards and 14 TDs, while senior James Wiggins has 1,123 yards and 10 TDs.
Pleasant Grove should also have an advantage in the kicking game with senior Dillon Williams, who has converted 63 PATs, and 7 of 10 field goals, with a long of 47 yards.