Yoemen, Tigers clash in quarterfinals

In last year's run to the state championship, Cameron had to defeat both Teague and Malakoff to get out of region III.  If the Yoemen will be playing in the state semifinals next week, they will once again have to accomplish that feat. 


In the regional round, Cameron defeated Teague while Malakoff got by Rockdale to setup the rematch. 


Last year's game is one that neither team will soon forget.  Malakoff appeared to be in total control of the area round matchup, building a 32-7 lead in the second quarter.  Cameron proceeded to go on a 38-12 run to stun the Tigers, 45-44. 


This year, the teams will be meeting in the state quarterfinal round.  Malakoff has dominated their way throughout the entire schedule, scoring 40 or more points in every game besides last week's win over Rockdale, 27-13. 


The Tigers overwhelmed Troy (47-16) and Kirbyville (49-6) in the opening two rounds of the playoffs.  The closest call for Malakoff came against the Teague Lions in district, 40-36.  Malakoff was down late in that game, but got a stop on the goal line and proceeded to drive the length of the field to pull off the last-second victory. 


Other season wins for Malakoff include Bullard (46-7), Rusk (45-19), Tyler Grace Community (46-14), Whitney (68-7), Groesbeck (62-28), Eustace (49-6), Palestine Westwood (46-14), West (42-0) and Elkhart (42-7). 



Malakoff is known for their offense, which returned eight starters from last season.  The Tigers averaged 45.4 points per game in 2015 and that is up to 46.8 through 13 games this season. 


The Tigers will operate out of different formations, but like to keep their offense balanced. 


“They are a very high-powered offense,” said Yoemen head coach Tommy Brashear.  “They are similar to our offense in a lot of ways as far as what they like to do.  They are very balanced with the run and pass.”


Big players to watch are quarterback Judd Miller and receivers Q.T. Barker and Tyler Russell.  Miller threw for 2,400 yards in his sophomore season and Barker was responsible for 24 touchdowns. 


Much like the Yoemen, Malakoff likes to use the big play in their offensive production. 


“Our defense has played good all year at times, but sometimes we give up that big play,” said Brashear.  “I feel like we are getting better at it.  Barker and Russell are two superb athletes for them.  They definitely are the big plays threats.  Sometimes they throw them short passes and they take it to the house and sometimes they throw deep to them.  They can score in a lot of different ways.”



Malakoff seems to be most improved on the defensive side of the ball where five starters have returned.  Jamie Driskell's team is giving up just 13.2 points per game, which is down from 2015's average of 18.8. 

“They're pretty good on defense,” said Brashear.  “Their defensive front is really good.  They are not as big as some of the defensive fronts we have seen, but they are not small either.  They have good size and they are very athletic up front.  They move well.  It's going to be big again for our offensive line to protect and open up some holes in the running game.”


The corner position does appear to be a strength, where Barker and Russell start both ways.  Of the four returning first-team all-district members, Larry Coker, Danyal Littleton and CJ Overton will all be featured on the defensive line. 


“They base out of a 4-3 defense,” stated Brashear.  “We think we'll see a 4-1 with the outside backers being wider, but we'll see what happens.  That is what we are going to practice and prepare for.”


Keys to victory

Cameron and Malakoff are similar in skills sets and how they approach the game offensively.  As with most games at this point in the playoffs, things are very competitive.  The difference could come down to who does, or who does not make the critical mistakes.


“These are two very good football teams going at it,” said Brashear.  “The team that makes the fewest turnovers and the team that wins the field position will be big.  We need to take care of the ball when we have it and create some turnovers on defense.”


Kickoff for Friday's state quarterfinal game is set for 7:30 p.m. from Waco ISD Stadium.  The Yoemen will be the visiting team.