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Big-Time Rivals Canton + Van Battle It Out For District 15-3A Title

Van’s Syd Moore runs through the Lindale defense during the Vandals’ 27-13 win at LIndale on Sept. 14. Van hosts Canton on Friday. (Bryan Stewart, ETSN.fm)

Canton Eagles (8-1, 4-0)
vs.
Van Vandals (8-1, 4-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday
Van Memorial Stadium

Coaches
Canton: Robert Ivey
Van: Jared Moffatt

Last week
Canton: def. Brownsboro, 35-13
Van: def. Mabank, 49-7

Playmakers

Canton

  • QB Chandler Eiland, Soph., 5-11, 170 (114 of 192, 1,605 yards, 22 TDs, 9 INTs)
  • RB Reece Sumner, Sr., 5-9, 180 (102 carries, 812 yards, 8 TDs)
  • WR Connor Eiland, Sr., 5-11, 175 (51 catches, 910 yards, 12 TDs)
  • RB/LB Dakota Hesskew, Sr., 5-11, 185 (97 rushing yards; 2 INTs last week vs. Brownsboro)
  • WR/DB Colton Williams, Sr., 5-8, 170 (21-yard TD reception last week vs. Brownsboro)

 

Van

  • QB Garrett Smallwood, Sr., 6-0, 185 (124 of 207, 1,808 yards, 22 TDs, 9 INTs)
  • RB Matt Savis, Soph., 5-8, 165 (148 carries, 1,164 yards, 15 TDs)
  • WR Carson Rucker, Jr., 6-3, 215 (41 catches, 518 yards, 8 TDs)
  • DT Syd Moore, Sr., 6-1, 260 (95 tackles, 30 for loss)
  • DB Layton Myers (4 INTs)

 

Just the facts

  • The Canton-Van series is one of the area’s longest-standing and most heated rivalries. Since 2004, Van holds a 5-3 edge in the series, including last season’s 69-28 victory.
  • The Eagles football program has had quite the turnaround in recent years. Since 2003, Canton is 76-35, but in the 10 years prior the Eagles posted just a 40-60-1 record.
  • Canton, usually one of the area’s most explosive offense, is averaging 40.2 points per game. The Eagles defense gives up an average of 19.1
  • Van has been a tad bit more impressive than Canton over the past 10 years. Since 2003, the Vandals are 82-28, which includes six playoff appearances.
  • The Vandals offense puts up an average of 42.1 points per game, while defense allows opponents to score 24.2.
  • Both Canton and Van have identical 8-1 and 4-0 records. The combined record of Canton’s opponents is 32-49, while Van’s foes have a record of 30-51.

 

 

Canton RB Reece Sumner. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

 

Van QB Garrett Smallwood. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Both running games vs. both defensive fronts. Canton sophomore quarterback Chandler Eiland and Van senior quarterback Garrett Smallwood have almost identical passing numbers though nine weeks, so it figures that whichever team has the most success on the ground might come out on top in this battle for the District 15-3A championship. Each team has a solid running back to turn to. Canton senior Reece Sumner has quietly had a very productive season, averaging almost 100 yards per game. Van, meanwhile, has been relying on its sophomore Matt Savis to get it done on the ground. Savis is among the area’s leaders in rushing with more than 1,100 yards and 15 touchdowns to his name. While both Eiland and Smallwood are more than capable of directing their teams to big wins, if the season totals for each hold to form, the two QBs will cancel each other out. That puts a big premium on success in the running game.

Don’t be surprised if: Van comes out with a little extra motivation. Not only is Canton one of the Vandals’ chief rivals, Van missed out on a district title last season with a crushing overtime loss to Lindale. This game is also important because of the first-round playoff implications. The loser will face the top seed from 16-3A, otherwise known as the District of Doom, and that happens to be Gilmer. The winner doesn’t get much of a reprieve as it must face Henderson.

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