CLASS 4A DIVISION I
REGION III SEMIFINAL

Henderson Lions (10-2)

vs.

Kilgore Bulldogs (9-3)

7 p.m. Friday
Pirate Stadium, Longview

 

Coaches

  • Henderson: Phil Castles
  • Kilgore: Mike Wood

 

Last week

 

Next week

  • Winner faces either Carthage or Silsbee, regional championship

 

Playmakers

Henderson

  • QB Trae Hall, Sr., 6-3, 185 (118 of 174, 1,714 yards, 13 TDs, 2 INTs; 140 carries, 897 yards, 16 TDs)
  • RB Lynn Freeney, Sr., 5-11, 180 (127 carries, 763 yards, 11 TDs; 4 catches, 24 yards)
  • LB Garrett Lybrand, Sr., 6-2, 200 (108 tackles, 24 for loss, 2 sacks, 28 QB pressures, 2 INTs, 5 PBUs, 2 forced fumbles)
  • WR/LB Ty Blanton, Sr., 6-2, 190 (15 catches, 171 yards, 1 TD; 86 tackles, 16 for loss, 3 sacks, 7 QB pressures, 5 INTs, 5 PBUs, 2 defensive TDs)
  • WR Caleb Medford, Soph., 6-1, 175 (36 catches, 768 yards, 8 TDs)
  • LB Brady Odom, Soph. (126 tackles, 16 for loss, 8 sacks, 12 QB pressures, 3 PBUs, 2 forced fumbles)
  • WR Tre Blanton, Sr., 6-0, 185 (40 catches, 537 yards, 4 TDs)
  • DL De'Braylon Garrett, Sr. (71 tackles, 19 for loss, 9 sacks, 21 QB pressures, 1 PBU)

 

Kilgore

  • QB Patrick "Buddy" Jackson, Sr., 5-9, 160 (46 of 93, 747 yards, 9 TDs, 1 INT; 98 carries, 968 yards, 11 TDs)
  • WR Jonathan Shepherd, Sr., 6-3, 195 (18 catches, 405 yards, 5 TDs; committed to Oklahoma State)
  • DL Demorrea Richardson, Sr., 6-0, 240 (47 tackles, 18 for loss, 10 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 3 recoveries, 3 blocked kicks)
  • RB Briant Mumphrey, Sr. (150 carries, 1,387 yards, 19 TDs; 9 catches, 99 yards, 1 TD)
  • RB Javorie Hamilton, Sr., 5-9, 170 (121 carries, 859 yards, 13 TDs)
  • LB Nesba Brown, Jr. (154 tackles, 3 for loss, 2 INTs, 1 blocked kick)
  • LB Sebastian Mumphrey, Sr. (157 tackles, 10 for loss, 2 sacks, 2 INT, 2 forced fumbles, 1 recovery)
  • WR/DB Deiontrae Wheat, Jr. (11 catches, 136 yards, 1 TD; 40 tackles, 2 INTs, 7 PBUs, 1 forced fumble)

 

Just the facts

  • Henderson is in the third round of the playoffs for the third time in Phil Castles' five seasons as head coach.
  • Henderson is averaging 33.3 points and 357.3 yards per game -- 212.6 rushing and 144.7 passing.
  • Henderson running back Lynn Freeney has rushed for five of his 11 touchdowns on the season in the last two weeks.
  • Henderson is allowing 20.8 points per game, and has forced 22 turnovers -- 16 interceptions and six fumbles.
  • Kilgore is in the third round of the playoffs for the fourth time in Mike Wood's eight seasons as head coach.
  • Kilgore is averaging 39.6 points and 410.6 yards per game -- 348.3 rushing and 62.3 passing.
  • Kilgore limited its first two playoff opponents to 200.5 total yards per game.
  • Kilgore is allowing 28.2 points per game, and has forced 19 turnovers -- nine interceptions and 10 fumbles.

 

Key matchup: Kilgore rushing attack vs. Henderson run defense. At the crux of Kilgore's success is its ground game, and it seemingly always has been. When the Bulldogs are at their best, they are turning their talented stable of backs loose and letting them go to work at salting away the game. That certainly has been true in 2017 as Kilgore enters Friday's rematch with district rival Henderson averaging almost 350 rushing yards per game.

Kilgore QB Patrick "Buddy" Jackson. (© Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

Kilgore has one 1,000-yard rusher on the season and two more within striking distance. Senior Briant Mumphrey has emerged as the team's No. 1 option out of the backfield, and his numbers speak for themselves. He comes into play with nearly 1,400 yards and 19 touchdowns, but not far behind are quarterback Patrick "Buddy" Jackson and running back Javorie Hamilton, who could give Kilgore three 1,000-yard rushers with big games this week. In the Week 8 encounter in Kilgore, Mumphrey was the star of the show with 191 yards and five touchdowns on only 15 carries. In fact, as a team that night, Kilgore averaged almost 11 yards per rushing attempt.

We'll find out how much Henderson's run defense has improved over the last few weeks, but during the playoffs, the Lions have shined at stopping the run. Against its first two postseason opponents, Navasota and Sealy, Henderson has surrendered a total of 105 yards on 54 rushing attempts, less than two yards per carry. In fairness, both Navasota and Sealy were pass-first operations, so Henderson will be dealing with an entirely different approach this week.

If Henderson wants some positive reinforcement in regards to its run defense, it only needs to look to its district game against Carthage. While Henderson suffered a 42-17 loss that night, the Lions did manage to hold Carthage star running back and University of Texas commit Keaontay Ingram in check. Ingram rushed for a season-low 61 yards on 16 carries, and Henderson allowed a total of 109 yards on the ground.

Don't be surprised if: The game will be will decided by role players. The stars for each team during their regular-season encounter -- Mumphrey for Kilgore and Henderson quarterback Trae Hall -- will be focal points for each team's defense, and may not have the same type of success they did the first time around.

Henderson's Lynn Freeney looks upfield during the Lions' 35-14 area-round playoff win over Sealy on Nov. 24 in Lufkin. (© ETSN.fm)

Potential X-factors for Kilgore include receiver Jonathan Shepherd. While it's not common for players like Shepherd, an Oklahoma State commit, to be viewed as complimentary pieces, that's exactly what he is for Kilgore. And he has a knack for big plays. Shepherd only has 18 receptions on the year, but five have gone for touchdowns, and he carries an average of 22.5 yards per catch into Friday's game.

Henderson, for most of the year, was getting almost all of its offense from Hall. But that has changed significantly in the playoffs with the emergence of running back Lynn Freeney. In the Week 8 game against Kilgore, Freeney only got six carries and was never a factor, but over the last two weeks, he's been vitally important. He's coming off a 220-yard rushing performance against Sealy, and he's run for five touchdowns in the two playoff games.

The winner might very well be decided by which player has the biggest impact -- Shepherd or Freeney.