Malakoff next test for Rabbs at Pine Tree’s Pirate Stadium on Saturday

Atlanta players celebrate after defeating Mount Vernon last Thursday night at Pine Tree's Pirate Stadium in Longview.

LONGVIEW, Texas – Atlanta and Malakoff have three common opponents in 2018, but there’s no indication of who should be the favorite in Saturday’s (3:30 p.m.) Region II-3A Division I championship game at Pine Tree’s Pirate Stadium.

Malakoff (10-2) beat Gladewater last week, 35-7, while the Bears beat Atlanta, 37-21. The Rabbs recently beat Kemp, 42-21, while Kemp beat the Tigers, 22-20. And then there’s Jefferson, which routed the Rabbs, 56-22, but lost to Malakoff, 31-21.

“We can beat Malakoff, but they’ve got a very good football team,” said Atlanta coach Matt McClure. “They line up in multiple formations and play very physical football. Their strength is probably stopping the run on defense. We’ve got our work cut out for us in that aspect.

“We’ll probably have to throw a little more than we have in the playoffs so far. They’ll be tested on the ground, too. We just need to spread them out a little bit. The weather is going to dictate a lot. There’s a chance of rain. We couldn’t move the game to Thursday because Malakoff played last Saturday, that’s why we moved it from Friday to Saturday.”

Malakoff averaging 42.6 points per game

The Tigers come into the game having scored 511 points, while yielding 195. MaxPrep has Malakoff ranked fourth in 3A Division II. Atlanta is ranked 12th despite starting the season 0-4. The Rabbs have won eight of their last nine games.

McClure compares the Tigers to West Rusk, a victim in Atlanta’s first postseason game three weeks ago. He’s also not sure if the possible rain would favor one team over the other.

“I guess rain would probably favor them if it did anyone,” said McClure. “Both teams do a good job of running the ball on offense. We’re just excited to get the opportunity to play, and be in the top eight. We’re getting one of our defensive starters back, who had grade problems.”

The winner of this game will play Brock or Shallowater in the state semifinals.