For the second straight year, the Sam Houston State Bearkats are shooting for a football national championship.
And once again there are number of East Texans who have helped the Bearkats in their march to the title game.
Sam Houston (11-3) will play North Dakota State (13-1) for the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision title on Saturday at FC Dallas Stadium in Frisco.
Kickoff is noon. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.
Leading the East Texans are Tyler’s T.J. Jones, a first-team All-Southland Conference tight end. Jones is a former Robert E. Lee High School standout.
Other East Texans on the team include: freshman defensive back Shelby Davis of Texarkana, junior cornerback DeAntrey Loche of Diboll, sophomore defensive back Desmond Fite of Tatum, sophomore defensive back Michael Wade of Arp, redshirt freshman safety Austin Campbell of Tyler (Lee), sophomore defensive back Cory Hamlett of Jacksonville, freshman tight end Braden King of Longview, junior defensive lineman Gary Lorance of New Boston, senior offensive lineman Daniel Jenkins of Gilmer (transfer from Missouri), freshman offensive lineman Donald Jackson of Kilgore, freshman offensive lineman Jeremy Robison of Garrison and sophomore defensive lineman John Trotter of Rusk.
In the 45-42 semifinal win over Eastern Washington, Jones, Lorance and Jackson all started for the Bearkats.
Also seeing action were Davis, Wade (3 tackles), Hamlett (tackle), Jenkins and Trotter.
The championship game is a rematch of last year’s title contest in which the Bison defeated the Bearkats, 17-6.
Sam Houston State is averaging 41.9 points and 463.4 yards of offense per game, while allowing 20.2 points and 325.8 yards per game on defense. The Bearkats average 279.2 rushing yards and 184.1 passing yards per game.
Running back Timothy Flanders, the two-time Southland Conference Player of the Year and a two-time All-American, has 1,589 yards on 269 carries.
Quarterback Brian Bell is completing 61.6 percent of his passes (178 of 289) for 2,460 yards and 24 touchdowns and has thrown only seven interceptions.
The Bison are averaging 32.6 points and 365.1 yards per game on offense and are limiting opponents to 11.4 points and 223.3 yards per game. North Dakota State has a balanced offense, averaging 196.6 yards on the ground and 168.6 yards passing.
Quarterback Brock Jensen has completed 61.5 percent of his passes (198 of 322) for 2,216 yards and 17 touchdowns and has thrown only eight interceptions.
He has added nine rushing touchdowns but the bulk of the team’s rushing yards come from running backs John Crockett and Sam Ojuri. In 14 games and only one as a starter, Crockett has 956 yards on 183 carries and nine touchdowns.
NOTES: This is the third straight year for the City of Frisco and the Southland Conference to host the championship game. Also, the NCAA announced the game will remain in Frisco through at least 2016.