Henderson Lions  (6-1, 2-1)

vs.

Center Roughriders (5-3, 3-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday
Roughrider Stadium, Center

Coaches

  • Henderson: Phil Castles
  • Center: Barry Bowman
Last week

Next week
  • Henderson: vs. Bullard, Oct. 28
  • Center: at Kilgore, Oct. 28
Playmakers

Center

  • WR Octavius Evans, Sr., 6-2, 192 (46 catches, 593 yards, 4 TDs)
  • QB Kyle Parks, Sr., 6-1, 185 (110-184 passing, 1,435 yards, 11 TDs, 5 INTs; 107 carries, 219 yards, 9 TDs)
  • WR/DB JaTerious Evans, Jr. (24 catches, 465 yards, 5 TDs; 22 tackles, 4 INTs)
  • LB Adrian Johnson, Sr. (East Texas' tackles for loss leader with 27, 88 total tackles, 10 sacks, 3 forced fumbles)
  • DB Keyshawn Barnes, Sr. (24 tackles, 3 INTs)

Henderson

  • WR/DB Trestan Ebner, Sr., 5-11, 190 (25 catches, 484 yards, 8 TDs; committed to TCU)
  • RB/DB Lakendrick VanZandt, Sr., 6-1, 196 (81 carries, 183 yards, 9 TDs; committed to TCU)
  • DB/WR Tre Blanton, Jr., 5-11, 165 (60 tackles, 2 for loss)
  • LB Ty Blanton, Jr., 6-1, 175 (75 tackles, 10 for loss, 4 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recovervies)
  •  LB Keaton Hand, Sr., 6-1, 205 (83 tackles, 3 for loss)
  • ATH Matthew Childers, Sr., 6-5, 185 (19 catches, 209 yards, 3 TDs; 14 carries, 104 yards, 1 TD)
  • QB Trae Hall, Jr., 6-3, 185 (57-89 passing, 810 yards, 12 TDs, 3 INTs; 42 carries, 399 yards, 4 TDs)
Just the facts
  • Friday's game is a meeting of District 9-4A Division I's only one-teams.
  • Kilgore leads both Center and Henderson in the standings with a 4-0 district record.
  • The Lions and Roughriders are loosely in a tie for second place in the league.
  • Henderson has one game in hand and will get to exercise it Nov. 4. Center will finish its 10-game regular season schedule next week at Kilgore.
  • There will be at least four college players competing in the contest, three of which play for Henderson.
  • Lions receiver Trestan Ebner and running back Lakendrick VanZandt are TCU commitments. Matthew Childers owns interest from NCAA Division I FCS and Division II schools.
  • Center receiver Octavius Evans has a number of college football scholarship opportunities, headlined by offers from Oklahoma State and Texas Tech.
  • The two teams share two common opponents -- Carthage and Chapel Hill.
  • Henderson defeated Chapel Hill, 42-14, Sept. 23 at home. Center beat Chapel Hill in overtime, 35-28, on Oct. 7.
  • Center lost to Carthage, 42-16, last week on the road. Henderson won at Carthage, 36-28, on Sept. 30.
  • The Lions and Roughriders have not faced each other in more than a decade.
Henderson's Lakendrick VanZandt (8) makes a quick cut upfield during the Lions' 36-28 win Sept. 30 at Carthage.

Key matchup: Center's defense versus Henderson's diverse and explosive offense.

The 26 points Kilgore held the Lions to last week was Henderson's lowest point total of the season by 10 points, and the offense averages 43.2 points per game.

It's easy to understand why head coach Phil Castles' offense usually has success. The unit has a TCU running back commitment, Lakendrick VanZandt, as well as a TCU receiver commitment Trestan Ebner.

If that's not enough, receiver Matthew Childers is being recruited by Missouri State and a handful of NCAA Division II schools. Then, you have to factor in the usual amount of sheer high school talent Henderson produces year-to-year.

The Lions' offense revolves around motion out of the shotgun to misdirect opposing defenses. But, out of the movement, a lot of players get the ball. Six players have carried for at least 194 yards this season and, about once a game, someone other than quarterback Trae Hall will be handed the ball and then drops back for a surprise pass.

Center can't afford to neglect either Henderson's running or passing facet. It can't load the box to slow the run down and it can't back off to defend the pass because the Lions can ding it up with a steady dose of VanZandt.

The only thing the Roughriders can do is beat the Henderson offense position by position.

Do they have the talent to do that?

Senior linebacker Adrian Johnson has emerged as one of the best regional defenders in Class 4A with 27 tackles for loss and 88 tackles in total. The Roughriders will be leaning on him to create some negative yardage plays to get Henderson in unfavorable down-and-distance situations, but he is far from the only player that can make a big play.

Center has 94 tackles behind the line of scrimmage this season, an average of 13.4 per game.

The Roughriders also have recorded eight interceptions, headlined by JaTerius Evans's four, in addition to seven fumble recoveries. That's an average of about two takeaways per game.

Center will have to play a nearly flawless game, but the numbers are there to suggest they can hang with a very talented Henderson offense.

 

Don't be surprised if: Roughriders' quarterback Kyle Parks is the game's great equalizer when Center has possession of the ball.

The signal-caller is in the upper echelon of East Texas passers and has the ability to run for yardage. If he can extend and finish drives, Henderson's intimidating offense won't have many opportunities to pull away.

Center quarterback Kyle Parks. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)