JHS vs. Nac Game Preview: Can another wild game be in the cards?

From left, Tribesmen Makeyln Horn, Alonso Almazan, Jacarri Hamlett, Santos Aguilar, Bryson Tatum and Kasey Canady lock arms as the coin toss takes place before a recent Tribe game. Jacksonville will be in Nacogdoches to open district play at 7:30 p.m. on Friday night.

In the past decade it seems like whenever Jacksonville and Nacogdoches collide on a football field just about anything that one can dream up can become a reality.

It's almost like combining the oddities of Friday the 13th, with a full moon and Halloween, all on the same night.

In the last six meetings each team has won three games, with the Dragons scoring an average of 46.8 points to the Tribe's 41.3.

It's hard to forget the record-breaking 12-overtime fiasco in 2010 that the Indians won 84-81.

In the 2014 meeting at the Tomato Bowl, Jacksonville won by another basketball-like score, 85-79. Then, two years later Nacogdoches edged the Indians 46-45 at Dragon Stadium.

And to prove that the games are not always close, Nacogdoches blanked the Tribe 31-0 in Jacksonville in the 2013 meeting.

“Anything can happen.” Jacksonville (1-2) head coach Wayne Coleman said. “No one knows what to expect when Jacksonville and Nacogdoches get together. Nothing will surprise me.”

One thing that will not catch Coleman by surprise is Nacogdoches' Jake Smith.

The (6'-3”, 195 lbs.) quarterback is the key offensive cog for the Dragons. Smith is 37-64 — 381 through the air, with two touchdown passes and four interceptions. He also leads Nacogdoches (0-3) in rushing (30-102).

“Smith is a good player, a high character type guy that can run and throw the ball,” Coleman said. “They will operate out of the spread with three receives and two backs, so Smith will have plenty of options.”

Smith's go-to receiver is Tay Decker (6', 202-lbs,), who has 13 catches for 173 yards.

Coleman said the Indians' priority will be stopping the run, something the team has not done well in doing this season.

“The bye (last week) could not have come at a better time for us,” Coleman said. “We had the chance to move some kids around defensively and we have had time to work on our run fits, so that the holes are not so big, as well as work on our tackling.”

For the first time this season Coleman said he expects to see zone coverage from the opponents. The Dragons prefer to work out of a zone defensively, instead of man coverage that the Tribe saw in its previous three games.

“They focus on stopping the big play,” Coleman said. “Kind of a bend, but don't break, type thing.

“We will have to do a good job in our short passing game and hopefully we can get something going with the run.”

The Tribe are expected to have defensive lineman Carson Cleaver back, according to Coleman. Cleaver went out with a concussion in the Henderson game.

“Not having Cleaver for much of the Henderson game really hurt us on the defensive line,” Coleman said.

Coleman said that aside from a few bumps and bruises, his team should be at full strength on Friday.

Jacksonville and Nacogdoches both have played challenging non-conference schedules.

The Tribe lost to Carthage and Henderson by large margins at home and beat Palestine by a point on the road.

The Dragons' losses have been to Kilgore (17-14), Lufkin (44-0) and Tyler Lee (35-28).

AROUND THE DISTRICT: Mount Pleasant (2-1) at Whitehouse (1-2); Hallsville (2-1) at Pine Tree (1-2); Lindale (2-1) at Marshall (0-3).

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