Scouting Pilot Point Ahead of Wall's Biggest Test of the Season
WALL, TX — Despite being a common pick to make it out of Region I in the 3A DI bracket, the Wall Hawks are playing with a chip on their shoulder. The attitude in practice is one of confidence in their abilities combined with the very real understanding that if they do not play at the level they are capable of, their season could be over. They play this way, practice this way, and study film this way.
Wall has coasted through the first two rounds of the 3A Division I playoffs behind quarterback Drew Morrison, a powerful offensive line, and the oft-praised but still somehow underrated defense. In the bi-district round, they allowed a quick Boyd touchdown in the first quarter but reeled off 32 unanswered points to win 32-7.
In the area round last week, the 14 point cap that the Wall defense had maintained through their first 11 games was broken when they put the backups in up 35-6 in the fourth quarter. The Mustangs were able to make the final score a little more respectable with two fourth quarter TD's, and Wall won 35-20.
Those two teams, along with Breckenridge (1-9) and Early (3-7), were good warmups for the revamped Hawks and gave Morrison a chance to get his feet wet following Mason Fuch's injury. Wall's defense was too talented for those four teams to be any real threat while Wall nursed back to health.
But, as is the nature of any playoff bracket, the teams only get tougher and the margin for error becomes more and more narrow.
This week Wall will head to Graham to face their most challenging opponent of 2019, the Pilot Point Bearcats. Here's a rundown of their season so far and how Wall will match up with the 4-3A DI district champion.
Pilot Point is 11-1 on the season and are currently riding an eight game winning streak. They started the season with three straight games against 3-4A Division II opponents and whooped up on all three of them. Bridgeport (5-6), Krum (0-10), and Aubrey (5-7) are not exactly world beaters but is was still an impressive start against bigger schools. They outscored them 133-34.
Those three wins were followed by a wake up call on the road from now 11-1 Gunter, the #4 ranked team in 3A DII. Gunter kept the Bearcats scoreless and only allowed 113 total yards (53 passing/60 rushing). QB Jacob Pitts was intercepted twice, one was returned for a touchdown, and completed 7 of his 12 pass attempts. Pilot Point had 7 first downs compared to Gunter's 17 en route to the 35-0 defeat. Gunter's only loss of the season was a week two loss to 12-0 Pottsboro, 27-14.
One week later, PP returned home and survived a dead even district matchup with 10-2 Brock. PP had a 6-0 lead at halftime and score 14 points in the fourth quarter to walk away with a 20-14 win. Running back Javon Bruce and Pitts combined for 205 yards on 25 carries. Bruce had two TD's to Pitts' one through the air. Brock's other loss this season was a 10-0 defeat to the 11-1 4A DI Brownwood Lions in the season opener.
The Brock game started the winning streak and they have not looked back. They beat their five remaining district opponents by an average of 39.6 points. The closest was a 36-21 win against Wall's first round playoff opponent Boyd.
Pilot Point's regular season strength of schedule was a mixed bag. Brock and Gunter are two of the best teams in their respective classes, but PP also beat two teams who finished 0-10. The remaining six teams finished the season hovering around .500. Whitesboro had the best record of the group at 7-5.
Wall and Pilot Point have played two common opponents, Boyd and Jim Ned. Wall beat Boyd 32-7 two weeks ago and Jim Ned 14-7 in week eight. PP beat Jim Ned 27-13 two weeks ago and Boyd 36-21 in week eight.
It is no secret what Wall will try to do offensively. Sophomore running back Dominic Garcia has moved up to varsity this postseason and made his presence known immediately. Against Shallowater, he had the second most carries on the team with 13, behind Morrison's 15, and had 93 yards and two touchdowns. He is young but a load to bring down and adds a new dimension that Wall has not had much this season.
The new combination of Morrison and Garcia allow Wall to pound the ball inside due to their size compared to the faster and more elusive Fuchs/Rios backfield. Fuchs is out for the season, but Rios returned in a limited capacity against Shallowater following his three game absence to heal an injured shoulder.
Another week of rest could put him closer to full strength and having Rios and Garcia in the backfield at the same time would be nearly impossible for their 3A opponents to stop.
Defensively, Wall is used to the balanced spread offense that Pilot Point runs. They have a big quarterback in 6'1, 190 pound senior Jacob Pitts. Pitts is athletic and a good runner that never has to do too much through the air but can when he needs to.
He is accompanied in the backfield by several capable backs, but Javon Bruce has been the most consistent workhorse. He has three games with at least 100 yards and two more with over 200.
Wall has beaten teams this year that do certain things better than Pilot Point, but not a team as talented on both sides of the ball. Wall knows the challenge ahead, and they have given us no reason to believe they will not be ready for it. Kickoff is Friday at 6:00 at Graham's Newton Field.
You can look at more of Chance Kirby's photographs of the Pilot Point football team here.
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