Nacogdoches Dragons - Camorian Thacker

John Krueger/The Daily Sentinel

Nacogdoches junior running back Camorian Thacker (23) takes on a Lindale defender as he runs for extra yards during action last week. the Dragon ground game will be the key in tonight’s matchup at Whitehouse.

With the parity that is building in District 9-5A DII this season, it’s anyone’s guess who will win the title, much less grab the other three playoff spots. But because of the closeness of the league, each game is critical to every team to capture the title. Just two games in, the Nacogdoches Dragons find themselves in a must-win situation tonight if they want to continue their quest for the championship when they go on the road for the second straight week, battling Whitehouse.

The matchup will kick off at 7:30 p.m., with KTBQ Radio (107.7-FM) providing the live audio broadcast from Wildcat Stadium.

In other District 9-5A games tonight, Hallsville (2-3, 0-2 dist.) will travel to Lindale (3-2, 1-1 dist.), Mount Pleasant (2-3, 0-2 dist.) will visit Marshall (2-3, 2-0 dist.) and Pine Tree (3-2, 2-0 dist.) will host Jacksonville (1-4, 0-2 dist.). All games will kick off at 7:30 p.m.

A win over Whitehouse (3-2, 2-0 dist.) by the Dragons (1-4, 1-1 dist.) will definitely shake up the district standings. And Nacogdoches head coach Darren Allman believes his team has the team that matches well enough to pick up the victory.

“We match up pretty much the same as we did against Lindale,” Allman said this week. “We should have an advantage in our offensive and defensive lines and we enough talent in our skill players to do some damage.”

Allman said the Dragons have to move the ball better on the ground than they did a week ago against Lindale — when the Dragons lost 37-10 — after picking up only 57 rushing yards on 31 attempts against the Eagles.

“We’re just not consistent yet and it comes down to that and controlling the field position game,” Allman said. “We had a chance to take the lead just before the half (vs. Lindale) and fumbled going in for what should have been a touchdown, but unfortunately it didn’t happen.

“Then we had a chance to respond to their first score of the second half, but we fumbled. Our defense held and they missed a field goal, but we never gained field position again for the remainder of the half.

“We didn’t run the ball very well and that’s on us as coaches. We run power and we run it a lot. We made an adjustment at halftime, but we didn’t make great adjustments on the fly. If we can run the ball better it opens up our entire offense because our passing game has done well.”

The Dragons’ ground game is only averaging 109 yards per game, while the NHS defense is allowing 166.4. Camorian Thacker leads the way with 200 yards and a 4.3-yard per carry average. Quarterback Jake Smith is second on the squad with 142 yards, while Jamarion Sanders is third with 136 yards.

The Nacogdoches offense has fared better in the passing attack. Smith has completed 63-of-108 (58.3%) of his throws for 770 yards, with six touchdowns and four picks.

One of the reasons Smith has been affective is because is his options when he’s in the pocket. Eight different receivers caught passes a week ago when the Dragons finished with 201 yards passing.

Jatavious Deckard is Nacogdoches’ leading receiver with 24 catches for 257 yards and a pair of scores. Nazavian Floyd is second with 16 receptions for 259 yards and two touchdowns, Ja’Kyhron Whitaker has seven for 52 and a TD and Drayton Brown (5-36) and Sanders (5-30) each have five catches.

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