Athens + Van Meet In Important District 8-4A D-I Opener
Athens Hornets (3-2)
Van Vandals (5-0)
7:30 p.m. Friday
Van Memorial Stadium, Van
- Athens: Paul Essary
- Van: Jared Moffatt
- Athens: idle
- Van: idle
- Athens: at Mabank, Oct. 17
- Van: at Crandall, Oct. 17
- RB Logan Fuller, Jr., 5-8, 210 (118 carries, 794 yards,5 TDs)
- RB Devin Hall, Sr., 5-9, 175 (85 carries, 509 yards, 5 TDs)
- ATH Travon Fuller, Jr. (462 all-purpose yards, 5 TDs, 8 tackles, 1 fumble recovery; committed to Texas A&M)
- LB Tim Tanner, Sr., 6-1, 180 (3 INTs)
- DE Brice Borgeson, Sr., 6-3, 225 (41 tackles, 4 sacks, 8 TFLs; committed to Northwestern State)
- RB Alphonso Thomas, Jr., 5-11, 190 (49 carries, 518 yards, 5 TDs)
- RB Matt Savis, Sr., 5-10, 190 (67 carries, 398 yards, 9 rushing TDs, 114 receiving yards, 2 TD receptions)
- OL Wyatt Santos, Sr., 6-2, 318 (offensive lineman MVP at ETSN.fm Football Recruiting Combine)
- QB Peter Maddox, Sr., 6-0, 180 (61 for 94, 935 passing yards, 12 passing TDs, 3 INTs)
- Hunter Redmond, Sr., 6-1, 152 (Leads East Texas in tackles with 80)
- WR Layton Myers, Sr., 5-10, 160 (4 games players, 15 receptions, 283 yards, 6 TDs)
- IR Luke McGowan, Sr., 5-9, 176 (14 receptions, 170 yards, 1 TD)
- WR Andrew Platter, Sr., 6-1, 180 (4 games played 11 receptions, 129 yards, 1 TD)
Just the facts
- Since 2006, Athens and Van have met five times. Van holds a 3-2 advantage in the time span.
- Friday's meeting marks the fourth straight year the two teams meet as district opponents.
- Van is 5-0 for the first time since 2011 and ranked No. 8 in the Associated Press' Class 4A poll.
- Athens is on a two-game winning streak, defeating Waco Robinson in its last game on Sept. 26 to get above .500. It is seeking a third consecutive win for the first time since last season when the team ended the regular season 10-0.
- Van gave Athens its best game last season. The Vandals fell 28-23, the Hornets' closest score until a blowout loss against Chapel Hill in the first round of the Class 3A Division I playoffs.
- Both teams have college talent. Athens junior athlete Travon Fuller is a Texas A&M commitment. Van senior defensive end Brice Borgeson has pledged to Northwestern State.
- Both teams have a good one-two punch at running back. Athens' Logan Fuller and Devin Hall have combined for 1,300 rushing yards. Van's Alphonso Thomas and Matt Savis have 916 combined yards on the ground.
- The Vandals have a major edge in the passing game. Quarterback Peter Maddox has 958 yards and 12 touchdowns to just three interceptions. Five Van players have more than 100 yards receiving through five games.
- Athens has put the ball in the air just 30 times all season.
- The two teams did not play any common opponents in non-district.
Key matchup: Athens' rushing attack versus Van's defense. The Hornets have not needed to throw this season. Logan Fuller is on a major tear and Devin Hall is not far behind. The duo has combined for 1,300 yards and they burned a lot of clock along the way. If the running game gets going against the Vandals, Athens will be in good position to win the game.
Keeping Van's offense off the field will be a major point of emphasis. The Vandals should be able to move the ball through the air with their spread system and a very good receiving corps. If that's not clicking, running backs Alphonso Thomas and Matt Savis have the potential to go wild on runs and dump off passes.
The Hornets will pound the ball at Van's front seven, but the Vandals are in decent position to handle it. Defensive end Brice Borgeson, a Northwestern State commitment, has eight tackles for loss this season and is a player offensive linemen would prefer not to deal with. Middle linebacker Hunter Redmond, at 6-0 and 150 pounds, does not have an intimidating presence, but he leads all of East Texas with 80 tackles through five games.
Athens will probably break a big run every now and then. That being said, Van has the players in place to bog down the overall process. The Hornets will have to be fundamentally sound pounding the rock and limiting turnovers or it's going to be a long night for their defense.
If Athens successfully runs to move the sticks, it will burn clock along the way and Van's offense will be in an uncomfortable position.
Don't be surprised if: the game goes one of two ways. Athens will successfully establish its run game, hold the Van offense to a limited number of possessions and take the game to the wire or the Vandals will dictate the offensive pace.
There's not much room for middle ground in Friday's game.