PALESTINE – The Palestine Wildcats' non-district schedule has been all about progression. This time last year they were 0-2 heading into a week three matchup against the Rusk Eagles.
This year, they're fresh off a 28-7 win over the Livingston Lions with a home matchup against the Eagles Friday.
The Wildcats continued their search for consistent playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. They started a new quarterback behind center Friday in junior De'Myzjean Martin – who completed 50% of his passes for 46 yards and a touchdown. Martin appears to be in place at quarterback going forward.
Running back Jakaryon Conley rushed for 99 yards and two touchdowns on 17 attempts, while Jermany Walker added 54 yards and a score on just two carries.
Palestine's rushing attack will be put to the test against an Eagles' defense who gave up just 3.6 yards a carry in their 27-15 win over the Crockett Bulldogs Friday. Crockett's lead back was mildly successful with 12 rushes for 74 yards but was the only one given much running room that night.
Palestine will play another sound defense with a group of linebackers who pride themselves in their tackling ability. Camden Hudnall led Rusk in tackles last week with 14. The week before they had four players record double-digit tackles – led by Caleb Ferrara with 21.
Besides a stingy defense that is giving up around 15 points per game through two weeks, the Wildcats defense will be tasked with slowing down quarterback Owen McCown – son of NFL quarterback Josh McCown.
The Bulldogs were able to keep McCown under control last week after his explosive season opener performance against Fairfield where he passed for 234 yards on a 59% completion percentage and rushed for another 104 yards on 10 carries.
McCown's leading receiver this season has been Joseph McGowan who has nine receptions for 101 yards and two touchdowns so far this season.
Rusk nearly cracked the #bEASTTexas top-15 teams in East Texas, but just missed the cut with only 32 votes.
Quick Hits: Palestine quarterback Martin will get his second start behind center for the Wildcats. For being a first-time starter, head coach Lance Angel was impressed with the level of comfort Martin played with last Friday. Palestine has yet to turn the ball over, while Rusk has forced three interceptions in their first two outings.
Given the various amount of looks, Martin will see against Rusk coach Angel stated the importance of staying ahead of the chains to not become truly one dimensional.
Also, a large part of Palestine's win was credited to them being better able to control starting field position, which will fall on their special teams unit to be solid Friday.
Who to watch: On offense, McCown and McGowan have been the two standouts for the Eagles thus far. Running back Alex Jones hasn't put up big-time numbers, but still is averaging over five yards per carrying. On defense, Aiden McCown and Bryce Lenard both had interceptions in week two.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday inside Wildcat Stadium.