FRISCO, Texas – Pleasant Grove and Salado are similar offensively, indicating Saturday’s 4A-Division II area playoff encounter could be a fast game.
The Eagles (8-3) finished third in District 8-4A this season behind Waco Connally and Mexia. They had one of the top running games in Central Texas. Sophomore quarterback Hutton Haire, and running backs Hunter Turk and Reid Vincent head the Eagles’ attack.
Haire started eight games for Salado as a freshman. He is following the footsteps of his brother and father (head coach Alan Haire), who played quarterback for the Eagles in 1987.
The bad news for the Eagles is that they’ll be facing top-ranked Pleasant Grove Saturday at The Star (4 p.m.). It’s the practice facility for the Dallas Cowboys, and home to several Frisco high schools.
Pleasant Grove (10-1) is making its sixth appearance at The Star. The Hawks’ only loss coming three seasons ago in the regular season to Frisco High School.
The Hawks are heavily favored after winning the 2017 state championship. PG lost in the title game to Cuero in 2018. Coach Josh Gibson returned a veteran squad in 2019, and Pleasant Grove cruised to its third straight district championship.
Salado has postseason experience
It’s worth noting that Salado posted a 12-2 record in 2017 under Haire. The Eagles lost in the state semifinals to West Orange-Stark, 14-0.
Waco Connally (11-0) won 8-4A this year, edging Salado, 24-21. The Eagles obvious challenge is slowing down the Hawks’ potent offense. Senior quarterback Ben Harmon, senior running back Bruce Garrett and senior receiver Sergio Rodriguez lead PG.
Harmon is a three-year starter, who has passed for 1,220 yards and 19 touchdowns from the Hawks’ run-oriented offense. He has more than 80 career touchdown passes. Garrett set the school record in rushing last season with more than 2,000 yards. He has 1,092 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. Rodriguez averages 27.5 yards a catch with 25 receptions and 11 touchdowns.
Salado could struggle to score its season average of 34 points against the Hawks’ defense. Pleasant Grove ranks first in the Texarkana area. The Hawks are only yielding 252 yards and 17 points per game.
The winner of this contest advances to play unbeaten Sunnyvale or Mexia.