Newton Eagles (1-1)

vs.

Henderson Lions (3-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Lions Stadium, Henderson

Coaches
  • Newton: W.T. Johnston
  • Henderson: Phil Castles

 

Last week
  • Newton: idle
  • Henderson: defeated Rusk, 39-0

 

Next week
  • Newton: vs. Orangefield, Sept. 25
  • Henderson: at Daingerfield, Sept. 25

 

Playmakers

Newton

  • LB Tanner Holmes, Sr., 6-2, 220 (30 tackles in 2 games; 1 reception, 38 yards;committed to ULL)
  • RB/DB Gabe Foster, Sr., 6-3, 185 (168 rushing yards, 4 TDs; 5 tackles; 7 Division I offers)
  • OL Hunter Flanigan, Sr., 6-1, 180
  • OL Keenan Myers, Sr., 6-0, 210
  • RB/LB Jaron Hanks, Sr., 5-9, 165 (42 carries, 327 yards, 2 TDs)
  • DB Blake Kelley, Jr., 5-9, 155 (12 tackles)

Henderson

  • WR Trestan Ebner, Jr., 5-11, 175 (10 carries, 88 rushing yards, 2 TDs, 3 receptions, 47 yards; offers from Kansas and SMU)
  • RB/DB La’Kendrick Vanzandt, Jr., 6-1, 185 (50 carries, 274 yards, 3 TDs)
  • OL Raini Dorman, Jr., 6-2, 245
  • ATH Matthew Childers, Jr., 6-4, 180 (22 carries, 131 yards, 4 TDs)
  • OL Weston Thomas, Jr., 5-11, 250
  • LB Cadarius Caldwell, Sr., 5-8, 180 (17 tackles, 2 for loss)
  • DL Jaxon Goode, Sr., 6-1, 220 (7 tackles, 3 for loss, 5 QB pressures vs. Rusk)
  • DB Justin Rojas, Sr. (15 tackles, 3 PBUs)
  • LB Keaton Hand, Jr., 5-10, 195 (23 tackles)

 

Just the facts
  • Friday's game is the second consecutive season the teams have met and the second time they've played since the turn of the century.
  • Henderson won last year's meeting, at Newton, 41-32.
  • The Eagles, last year's Class 3A Division II state runner-up, non-district schedule is exclusively against teams from Class 4A.
  • Newton avenged a 2014 loss to Tatum with a 37-28 win on opening weekend. It lost to Bridge City two weeks ago and enjoyed its open date last week.
  • Henderson is off to a great start with double-digit wins against Athens and Rusk sandwiched between a 39-38 win while visiting a very good Atlanta team.
  • Both teams have future college talent.
  • Newton's Gabe Foster picked up his seventh Division I college football scholarship opportunity during the weekend. It came from Louisiana-Lafayette, the school Eagles linebacker Tanner Holmes is already committed to.
  • The Lions have a highly regarded receiver, Trestan Ebner, who already holds offers from Kansas and SMU as a junior.
  • Newton obviously made a strong run in the postseason last year. Henderson did as well with a trip to the Class 4A Division I, Region III championship game -- where it fell to eventual state champion Navasota.
  • Newton will square off with Orangefield and Class 4A Division II state runner-up West Orange-Stark to close non-district.
  • Friday's game marks the Eagles' first of eight straight to close the regular season.
  • Henderson will wrap up its non-league schedule next week at Daingerfield before utilizing its own open date.
Newton running back and defensive back Gabe Foster, who holds seven Division I offers, has 168 rushing yards through two games. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Henderson's sheer depth advantage against Newton's raw talent.

Tip your cap to the Eagles. Their non-district schedule is one of the toughest among East Texas teams considering it will play the whole slate out of its own classification.

Head coach W.T. Johnston hopes it will pay off for a second year in a row. After dropping three of its five non-district games last year, Newton mostly cruised to the Class 3A Division II state championship game where it finally met its match against Waskom in Week 17.

Henderson has 52 players to work with in Friday's game. Newton will bring many two-way starters and 36 total players to Lion Stadium.

The challenge is obvious.

At the very top, however, Newton has a talent advantage. Even without current Texas A&M defensive back Roney Elam, linebacker Tanner Holmes and running back Gabe Foster are players that have potential to take the meeting's smaller school far down the road.

The million dollar question is, can the Eagles hang in with the Lions through four quarters?

Phil Castle's squad -- which won last year's meeting in Newton -- will be able to rotate a handful of players and keep his team fresher down the stretch.

Scheme wise, both teams will run the rock at each other. Newton has completed 25 percent of its passes this season for 39 yards while Henderson has leaned more toward the run.

The magic number for defensive stops in this game is four. Possessions will be limited, so the offenses will have to make the most of their opportunities.

Don't be surprised if: The Eagles make a push. Newton already has a feather in its cap, taking down an always-talented Tatum team in the season opener. It also pushed a larger Bridge City team to the brink. Johnston's staff has had two weeks to game plan for Henderson, and this is as healthy as the team will be all season. Yet the Eagles are going to have to be iron men to survive 48 minutes on the road against a team with more bodies and quite a bit of talent at its most essential positions.

Henderson defensive back Justin Rojas has had a big three games thus far for the Lions with 15 tackles and three pass breakups. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)