By Todd Wills
Corsicana Daily Sun
HUBBARD — —
The Hubbard Jaguars have been so good on defense this season, that even their team drills, where they go over the opponent’s offense for the week, work in almost perfect harmony.
The Jaguars with their speed and size have a answer for almost every matchup. And their versatility helps them game plan for offenses, from the Wing T to the Spread.
In Hubbard, where there’s a new school and a two-time district champion, the Jaguars rule the day.
Especially on defense.
Hubbard allowed 105 points in the regular season, best in the Golden Circle (Mildred, the other area team to get a first-round bye, gave up 105 points).
The Jaguars are so stingy they allowed 160.9 yards per game, 61 better than the next best in the Golden Circle, also Mildred (221.5 ypg). Hubbard allowed 101 yards per game on the ground and 60 passing.
The Jags get takeaways too, just as not as many. They were geared toward turnovers last season. This year it’s about stuffing people, no Thanksgiving dinner pun intended.
“Last year we played Cover 2 (zone) and played good run defense,” Hubbard coach Craig Horn said. “This year we’re just dictating terms and bringing the pressure on the quarterback and playing man-to-man defense.”
Linebacker Jordan Johnson, a junior, leads the team with 110 tackles and sets the tone for the Jags.
He’s relentless and his speed makes him a terror from sideline to sideline.
“We put a lot of stress on other offenses,” Johnson said. “We’re good enough to win with defense.”
Jimenez, a senior, has had a brilliant season with 93 tackles. The Jaguars get plays from all of their linebackers. Ashton Hawthorne has 70 tackles and Trey Henderson has 69.
The Jags’ defensive line is active too. Hudson Alderman has 69 tackles and Kez Williams and Bryan Walker had 50 each.
“Both our linebackers and defensive linemen have been playing well,” Henderson said. “That’s giving our secondary guys a chance to get interceptions and make plays.”
The Jaguars have veterans mixed in with youth. Freshman defensive back Braydyn Gillham has 50 tackles to lead the secondary.
Teams have thrown away from cornerback Casey Jones, who has three interceptions after nine last year. But D’Warren Simmons has come through with four and Alex Eddy and Alex Jimenez each have one.
“We feel like in the secondary we can matchup with people in man-to-man,” Horn said. “Where a team may be better than us, we can scheme up on people.”
For all of those numbers, and all of the success they’ve had on defense, the Jaguars will be defined by what they did in the postseason.
Tenaha eliminated Hubbard last year in resounding fashion, pounding the Jaguars 62-28. Tenaha gained 679 yards, picking up 523 yards on the ground.
So this year’s glamorous stats mean little, Horn said.
“They’re meaningless,” Horn said. “We played good people last year, but Tenaha was a different animal. It was difficult. It forced us to match up to a man and we weren’t better than them at any spot or any position on the field.
“I’m hoping it’s different this year,” Horn said.
The Jaguars to a man say it is.
“Last year we were learning how to win,” Williams said. “Now we know what it takes.”
Region III-1A DII Area Round
Hubbard (8-2) vs. Bremond (8-3)
7:30 p.m. Friday, Waco ISD Stadium
Hubbard QB Casen Martin vs. Bremond LB Harrison Hull
Hull is a factor in the run and pass game. “He leads the universe in tackles,” Hubbard coach Craig Horn said. The 5-11, 185-pound Hull averages 18.6 tackles per game. His presence means the Jaguars have to throw the ball a little to take the pressure off the defense. Martin has thrown for 711 yards and 10 TDs and can throw it vertically in the right down-and-distance situations.
Match Bremond’s intensity
Hubbard didn’t play a playoff game last week because of a bye. Bremond played last week and destroyed Evadale so the Tigers will have momentum coming into Friday night. The Jaguars can’t let the week off impact their energy. They have to play the way the Jaguars always play for coach Craig Horn with passion and intensity to match what Bremond will bring Friday night.
Don’t get tricked
Hubbard wants this to be a physical game, not a cerebral one where trick plays will be avaliable to Bremond. The Tigers’ offensive statistics aren’t eye-popping — junior QB Cade Grych has completed around half of his passes for 1,021 yards. Leading rusher Denovious Skaggs has close to 600 yards. Still, the Tigers are dangerous.
Mix up the running game
Hubbard starting TB Bradley Walker is back after missing most of the season with an ankle injury, so he’ll be the freshest player on the field. It could work to Hubbard’s advantage. Walker (772 yards) can still go over 1,000 yards with a big playoff run. Trey Henderson, a physical back, has 1,176 yards.
— Todd Wills/Don A. Sims