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District of Doom Rivals Henderson + Gilmer Meet Again With Regional Championship At Stake

Henderson running gback Diamante Wright runs the ball during the Lions’ 28-26 loss to Gilmer in Longview on Oct. 13. (Jeff Stapleton, ETSN.fm)

Class 3A Division II Region II
Final

Henderson Lions (9-4)
vs.
Gilmer Buckeyes (12-1)

7 p.m. Friday
Lobo Stadium, Longview

Coaches
Henderson: Dickey Meeks
Gilmer: Jeff Traylor

Road To Regional Final

Henderson

  • Bi-district: def. Henderson, 48-21
  • Area: def. Quinlan Ford, 49-13
  • Regional semifinal: def. Celina, 64-35

 

Gilmer

  • Bi-district: def. Canton, 51-36
  • Area: def. Atlanta, 57-13
  • Regional semifinal: def. Argyle, 42-21

 

Next week: Winner plays Graham (12-1) or Gatesville (13-0) in a 3A Division II state semifinal, 7:30 p.m. Friday (Dec. 14), Vernon Newsom Stadium, Mansfield

 

Playmakers

Henderson

  • ATH Patrick “Monster” Brown, Sr., 5-10, 175 (34 of 51, 527 yards, 1 TD; 161 carries, 1,256 yards, 19 TDs; 20 receptions, 342 yards, 2 TDs; 17 punt returns, 26.8 avg., 3 TDs)
  • RB Diamante Wright, Sr., 5-10, 185 (226 carries, 1,259 yards, 16 TDs; 15 catches, 130 yards, 1 TD)
  • OL Nick Siler, Sr., 6-4, 255 (committed to Air Force)
  • DE Bo Brady, Sr., 6-0, 195 (71 tackles, 26.5 for loss, 12.5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, 1 recovery)
  • LB Jamaal Kind, Sr., 5-10, 185 (109 tackles, 12 for loss, 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 2 recoveries, 3 pass break-ups)
  • WR Jamie Anthony, Sr., 6-2, 185 (18 catches, 406 yards, 1 TD)
  • DB J’Korrie Centers, Sr., 6-0, 180 (61 tackles, 4.5 for loss, 1.5 sacks, 3 INTs, 3 pass break-ups, 3 forced fumbles)
  • DB Kenny McCown, Sr. (60 tackles, 7.5 for loss, 2 sacks, 2 INTs, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovery, 4 blocked kicks)

 

Gilmer

  • QB Tanner Barr, Jr., 6-1, 175 (196 of 327, 2,409 yards, 21 TDs, 13 INTs; 109 carries, 745 yards, 4 TDs)
  • RB/LB Josh Walker, Jr., 6-1, 220 (71 carries, 474 yards, 11 TDs; 16 catches, 257 yards, 3 TDs; 96 tackles, 6 sacks, 27 QB pressures, 3 forced fumbles, 2 recoveries; committed to Texas A&M)
  • RB Kris Boyd, Soph., 5-11, 185 (127 carries, 1,116 yards, 17 TDs; 15 catches, 168 yards, 2 TDs)
  • ATH Chase Tate, Soph., 5-5, 150 (31 carries, 216 yards, 1 TD; 51 catches, 451 yards, 3 TDs)
  • NG Xavier Fluellen, Sr., 6-1, 260 (92 tackles, 3 sacks, 8 QB pressures, 5 forced fumbles, 2 recoveries)
  • WR/DB Trey Washington, Sr., 6-1, 170 (28 catches, 291 yards, 2 TDs; 47 tackles, 2 INTs, 5 pass break-ups; committed to SMU)
  • ATH Jaidon Parrish, Jr., 6-0, 180 (25 catches, 337 yards, 3 TDs)
  • RB Jamel Jackson, Soph. (58 carries, 528 yards, 8 TDs)

 

Just the facts

  • Henderson is in the fourth round of the playoffs for the third consecutive year. The Lions are 33-9 since the beginning of their 2010 state championship season.
  • The Lions averaged 25.7 points per game through their first six games this season, getting off to a 3-3 start. Henderson is 6-1 since, putting up 39.7 a game.
  • The combined record of Henderson’s 13 opponents this season is 85-60.
  • Henderson has defeated its last two regional final foes (Lucas Lovejoy, Celina) by a combined score of 78-33.
  • In each of Henderson coach Dickey Meeks’ state title seasons (1989 with Chapel Hill; 2010 with Henderson), his team had to win in the final game of the regular season just to qualify for the playoffs.
  • This is the seventh regional final appearance for Gilmer under head coach Jeff Taylor, who has guided the Buckeyes to a 4-2 record in this round. The last loss occurred in 2008 to eventual state champion Carthage.
  • Gilmer is averaging 38.8 points per game. The Buckeyes have been held to less than 30 points in a game four times this season (Plano Prestonwood, Gladewater, Henderson and Kilgore).
  • The combined record of Gilmer’s 12 opponents this season is 82-55.
  • Since Traylor took over in 2000, Gilmer has gone 146-23 (.864 percentage), leading all 3A programs in the state in wins.
  • If the Buckeyes win on Friday night, it will mark the sixth time in Traylor’s tenure that Gilmer has reached at least 13 wins in a season.

 

Key matchup: Henderson running game vs. Gilmer defensive front. When Henderson made the switch to Patrick “Monster” Brown at quarterback late in the first half of their regular-season game against Gilmer, things have never been the same for the Lions. Brown’s legs nearly helped Henderson come back from a 21-3 first-half deficit, and he hasn’t been stopped since. All of Brown’s 19 rushing touchdowns have come since he moved to quarterback. He ranks only three yards behind running back Diamante Wright, who’s started for the entire season, in rushing. The two combined for 425 yards in their big win over Celina a week ago, and will be at the forefront again on Friday night in the rematch. The Buckeyes completely shut down Argyle’s running game last week, limited the Eagles to just 144 yards on 38 attempts. Gilmer and its talented front consisting of senior nose guard Xavier Fluellen and junior linebacker Josh Walker should get an even stiffer challenge this week with Henderson. No one knows how well Brown would fare passing with regularity because he hasn’t had to yet. It will be up to the Gilmer defense to make sure everyone finds out.

 

Chalk talk

  • Henderson coach Dickey Meeks on matching up with Gilmer: “The thing with Gilmer and the way their program is set up, they’re very balanced. They can throw it and they can run it. They’ve always been that way on offense. I don’t think you can ever stop them and they’ve been that way for 10 years. But if you can a couple of stops and maybe they make a few mistakes, that seems to be the best recipe.”
  • Meeks on the advantage of facing a team for the second time: “If it’s Gilmer, there is no benefit. The thing about it is that you don’t have to research as much. You’ve already played them, you’ve been around them. And it’s the same thing with them. You do the same amount of film work, but kinda know what you’re looking for, unlike maybe a Celina or Argyle or a team you play maybe one time every two years.”
  • Gilmer coach Jeff Traylor on facing Henderson’s dynamic rushing attack: “I always tease everybody that it’s my fault because when they moved (Monster Brown) there, we looked so bad. They just destroyed us and haven’t changed since. It’s our fault that the monster got put back there. He’s just very special and (running back Diamante Wright) is as well. The offensive line is very well coached and they block people very well. It’s not just Monster and Wright … we’ve got our hands full and everyone knows that. Hopefully we can keep it close into the fourth quarter and we pull it out somehow.”

 

Don’t be surprised if: The passing games for both teams are more a factor than they were in the previous meeting. Gilmer may have been caught off guard before with Brown being inserted at quarterback midway through the game, but there shouldn’t be any surprises this time around. Even though the Buckeyes throw it much more than Henderson, a strong running game is still at the heart of what Gilmer does on offense, and should be the Lions’ main point of emphasis on defense. This game promises to live up the hype, with the winner standing an excellent chance of advancing to the state championship game in two weeks at Cowboys Stadium.

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