Dragons Week 11 Preview: Hebron Hawks
Nov 10, 2017 09:13AM ● Published by Mike
The Dragons will get their final tune-up for the postseason Friday when they travel to Hebron in a battle of two teams tied for second in District 5-6A.
The Hawks certainly possess the talent to challenge Carroll and head coach Hal Wasson couldn’t envision a better opponent to face as his team gears up for its postseason run.
“I’m excited for our team’s chance to match up against them,” Wasson said. “I mean they have everything checked off. Experience. Athleticism. Speed and a hostile road environment. It’s going to be a huge challenge and a great chance for us to see a talented opponent and grow from it.”
While both teams enter tied in the standings, the contest has no playoff implications in terms of seeding with the Hawks locked in as the No. 2 seed in 6A Division I behind district champ Euless Trinity. Carroll is already slotted as the top seed in Division II.
A win tonight would guarantee Carroll the privilege of hosting a home game in the bi-district round.
Last year, the teams played for the district title in the final week with the Dragons prevailing, 52-34.
Hebron comes in this week at 5-1 in the district and 7-2 overall with losses to the aforementioned Trojans (31-28) and in non-district to Plano Senior, 27-26, after missing a game-tying extra point in the closing minutes.
Offensively, Hebron boasts one of the best sets of skill players in the area.
Quarterback Clayton Tune — last year’s 5-6A Offensive Player of the Year — was once committed to Kansas before reopening his recruitment.
The senior is a two-way threat, completing 67 percent of his passes for 1,966 yards (218 yards per game) and 20 touchdowns against six interceptions while also rushing for 323 yards (6.7 per carry) and seven scores.
“In my opinion, he’s the best quarterback we’ve seen,” Wasson said. “He’s got a big arm, he’s strong, he’s fast and he’s very smart. He reminds me a lot of some of the older guys that have come through here.”
Tune has a slew of talented targets to choose from in the passing game.
Senior Jaren Mitchell (37 receptions, 521 yards, two touchdowns) has committed to BYU, while junior Oklahoma commit Trejan Bridges is a threat to score any time he touches the ball and has 52 receptions for 744 yards and 13 touchdowns. Deandre Warren (25 catches, 413 yards, three touchdowns) has also developed into a consistent threat in the passing game.
“We’ve seen a great receiver here or there, but we haven’t seen a collection like Hebron has,” Wasson said. “They have four guys with experience than can catch and run and make things happen.”
In the backfield, Jatyn Taylor (507 yards, seven touchdowns) and Jaylon Lott (435 yards, six touchdowns) each average better than 6 yards per carry and run behind a talented offensive line anchored by senior Illinois commit Braeden Daniels.
Add it all up, and the Dragons’ defense faces a stiff challenge.
“We know who we are,” Wasson said. “We’re not going to win any sprint relays with these teams, so we have to be disciplined. If we don’t fence things up and fit right, that’s when it can get ugly for us. We have to be aligned and know our assignments so we are not exposed.”
College talent is prevalent on the defensive side of the ball as well where Oregon commit and senior Verone McKinley III leads an experienced secondary and has racked up five interceptions on the season.
Sophomore Darius Snow — a member of Hebron’s varsity basketball team as a freshman and the son of former NBA player Eric Snow — has emerged as a standout at safety in his first season playing football and leads the team with 106 tackles, while fellow defensive backs Demario Montez and Joseph Angelone are multi-year starters for the Hawks.
Carlos Hatcher has been a force in the pass rush with eight sacks (Hebron has 20.5 as a team), while junior linebacker Colby Newton and senior backer Christopher Crawley have 92 and 78 tackles, respectively.
“We’re going to have to control the ball and be consistent in both our passing and running game,” Wasson said. “Just like with our defense, we have to be mentally tough. That’s what our DNA is.”
Speaking of running game, the Dragons will again be without the services of halfback TJ McDaniel, as well as defensive back Jake Fex — though Wasson believes they’ll be ready to go for the playoffs.
“It’s one of those things where we want them going in at 100 percent,” Wasson said. “We don’t want it to be 80 percent and then they get nicked up and are back to 60 percent or something like that.”