161006-EHS-CCHS 281

Ellison's Darrell Peterkine (4) runs up the middle as Copperas Cove faced Ellison at Leo Buckley Stadium on Thursday, Oct 06, 2016.

The District 8-6A season has reached its midway point, and Harker Heights and Ellison are two teams right in the thick of the playoff hunt.

Tonight at Leo Buckley Stadium, the two squads will face one another in a big-time tilt that could catapult their programs toward a postseason berth.

The Eagles (5-1, 1-1 8-6A) will enter the ballgame fresh off their first loss of the season, a 38-3 defeat at home to Copperas Cove.

They are averaging 422 yards and 37 points per game, but against the Bulldawgs, Ellison was held to just 190 total yards of offense and committed three turnovers.

But the big-play ability of senior quarterback Carl Robinson III and the offense is something all opponents must be wary of, and that is certainly the case with Knights head coach Jerry Edwards.

“They don’t hide the fact that they like to throw the football,” Edwards said. “They’re going to throw the football a bunch. They rely on their quarterback a bunch, and they have three or four receivers that can really run and go get the ball.”

Wide receivers Jayden Smith, Jyaire Shorter, X’zavier Green and Ta’von Gwynn have all been heavily featured in the Eagles’ passing attack, and each add their own unique skillsets that make the team versatile through the air.

Heights (5-2, 2-1) has been strong offensively, as well, especially on the ground. Running backs Jameel Hodges and Madu Eneli provide a one-two punch out of the backfield that is a challenge for any defense to slow down.

The tandem has been highly effective running behind a big, physical offensive line that boasts Elijae Scott, Taunty Motu, Khalil Corbett-Canada, Travis Simpson and Sam Pinkney, and fullback Markel Reo has been integral in leading the two tailbacks through the holes in the defense.

That effectiveness on offense has also positively influenced the Knights’ defense.

“Our offense has done their part,” Edwards said. “Our ground game has done a great job of being our 12th defender, I guess you could say. They keep other offenses off the field, and if their offense is not on the field and churning out points, it’s always a good night for us.”

But while the offensive aspect of tonight’s game might garner the most attention, the contest just may be decided by the team that makes the most plays defensively.

Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Previously spent time as sports editor at both the Hereford Brand and the Gatesville Messenger. Graduate of West Texas A&M University.

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