Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

December 7, 2012

Alto seeking revenge against ole playoff nemesis Mart

Jay Neal
Jacksonville Daily Progress

ALTO — The last time the Alto Yellowjackets made it to the regional final in the state high school football playoffs, it was the Mart Panthers that eliminated the Mean Sting from post season play.

The Yellowjackets will certainly be hoping that what happened in 2008 when the Panthers edged the Yellowjackets, 27-20, in a game that was played on a cold night at Tiger Stadium in Corsicana, doesn’t repeat itself when the two teams go toe-to-toe at 7:30 p.m.this evening at Athens' Bruce Field.

And, just like 2008, there is a lot riding on a victory for both teams as the winner will punch its ticket into the state semi-final next week, while the loser dives head first into basketball season.

Alto enters pay this week with an 11-2 record, while Mart stands 10-2.

Head coach Keith Gardner's Yellowjackets have defeated Harleton (35-9), Hull-Daisetta (35-28) and Bosqueville (35-14) to earn a spot opposite head coach Rusty Nail's Panthers.

Mart had a free pass in bi-district and has playoff decisions over Pineland West Sabine (69-15) and San Augustine (49-21).

Alto and Mart are very similar when it comes to personnel as both squads have dynamic feature backs and quarterbacks that have had sensational seasons in 2012.

The Jackets' Jacolby Whitaker has carried 273 times for 2,443 yards and has 34 touchdowns. He also has caught 10 passes for 129 yards and a touchdown.

His backfield mate, quarterback Zac Sturns, has ran the ball 197 times for 1,160 yards and has a dozen rushing touchdowns.

Through the air he is 47-of-103 for 878 yards, 10 touchdowns and two interceptions.

Mart has two 1,500-yard-plus backs in quarterback D'Nerian Thomas (188-1,633 YDS, 20 touchdowns and running back DeMarcus Cosby (120-1,501 YDS., 18 touchdowns).

The Yellowjackets are averaging just north of 37 points a game and are allowing 20 points a night.

The Panthers score and average of 43.8 points a game while permitting 20.3 points to be scored, so this one could be a high scoring affair, boys and girls.

For the first time in the playoffs this fall Alto will come into the game as the underdog — the Harris Rating System has Mart a 24-point favorite, believe it or not.

Mart dominated San Augustine, who finished one notch ahead of Alto in the District 10-A-I standings, last week, winning by an impressive 27 points.

Mart's defense appears to be in top form, having limited its opponents to an average of 18 points a game during the post season.

Alto's defense should be facing it toughest test of the season in trying to stop a Panther team that will be looking to score the District 10-A-I trifecta — the Panthers have already disposed of West Sabine and San Augustine.

The winner of tonight's game will face either Shiner (11-1) or Mason (12-0) in next week's state semi-final.