Area Playoff

Sealy Tigers (6-4)


Henderson Lions (9-2)

5 p.m. Friday
Abe Martin Stadium, Lufkin



  • Sealy: Shane Mobley
  • Henderson: Phil Castles


Last week


Next week

  • Winner faces either Kilgore or El Campo, regional semifinals




  • QB Garret Zaskoda, Jr., 5-11, 160 (209 of 338, 2,912 yards, 28 TDs, 14 INTs; 41 carries, 75 yards, 4 TDs)
  • WR Justin Eckhardt, Sr. (80 catches, 1,125 yards, 14 TDs; 8 carries, 75 yards, 1 TD)
  • WR Tyrek McNeese, Sr., 6-0, 155 (63 catches, 984 yards, 7 TDs; 21 carries, 168 yards, 1 TD)
  • RB Ivan Bolden, Jr. (167 carries, 1,072 yards, 14 TDs; 13 catches, 176 yards, 2 TDs)
  • WR Jared Kainer, Sr., 5-9, 145 (29 catches, 454 yards, 3 TDs; 3 carries, 12 yards, 1 TD)



  • QB Trae Hall, Sr., 6-3, 185 (111 of 162, 1,648 yards, 12 TDs, 2 INTs; 130 carries, 820 yards, 16 TDs)
  • WR/LB Tyrek Blanton, Sr., 6-2, 190 (14 catches, 163 yards, 1 TD; 78 tackles, 15 for loss, 3 sacks, 7 QB pressures, 5 INTs, 4 PBUs, 2 defensive TDs)
  • LB Garrett Lybrand, Sr., 6-2, 200 (97 tackles, 21 for loss, 2 sacks, 26 QB pressures, 1 INT, 4 PBUs, 2 forced fumbles)
  • DL De'Braylon Garrett, Sr. (65 tackles, 16 for loss, 8 sacks, 19 QB pressures, 1 PBU)
  • RB Lynn Freeney, Sr., 5-11, 180 (106 carries, 543 yards, 8 TDs; 4 catches, 24 yards, 0 TDs)
  • WR Caleb Medford, Soph. (34 catches, 760 yards, 8 TDs)
  • RB/DB Keshoyn Alexander, Jr., 5-8, 165 (19 carries, 72 yards, 2 TDs;
  • LB Brady Odom, Soph. (109 tackles, 14 for loss, 7 sacks, 11 QB pressures, 2 PBUs)


Just the facts

  • The cumulative record of Sealy's 2017 opponents is 60-37 (.619).
  • Sealy is averaging 38.7 points and 470.7 yards per game -- 168.3 rushing and 302.4 passing.
  • Tigers running back Ivan Bolden had a season-high 25 carries in last week's playoff win over Houston North Forest.
  • Sealy is allowing 29.4 points per game.
  • The cumulative record of Henderson's 2017 opponents is 55-63 (.466).
  • Henderson is averaging 33.1 points and 353.4 yards per game -- 201.6 rushing and 151.8 passing.
  • Lions quarterback Trae Hall has FBS offers from Florida Atlantic, New Mexico State, Tulane, Louisiana-Lafayette, and Louisiana-Monroe.
  • Henderson is allowing 21.4 points per game, and has forced 20 turnovers -- 15 interceptions and five fumbles.


Key matchup: Sealy passing attack vs. Henderson defense. Sealy comes into Friday's area-round playoff game against Henderson with a potent aerial assault, led by junior quarterback Garret Zaskoda and senior receivers Justin Eckhardt and Tyrek McNeese. Zaskosa enters this week with more than 2,900 yards and 28 touchdowns through the air, while the duo of Eckhardt and McNeese account for most of the production with a combined 2,109 yards and 21 touchdown catches. The Tigers pass the ball roughly 55 percent of the time, so Henderson's pass defense will need to be at its best to hold down a Sealy offense that averages almost 39 points per game.

Henderson's Garrett Lybrand (26) hits Navasota quarterback Jeb Malek (4) during their Class 4A Division I bi-district playoff Nov. 17 in Corsicana. (©

Sealy is similarly constructed to Henderson's first-round opponent, Navasota, which can be taken one of two ways. It could be cause for concern judging by Navasota's success through the air last week, or it might be just what Henderson's defense needs to rebound from an uneven performance. Last week, Navasota all but abandoned the running game and took to the air, gashing Henderson for 347 passing yards. The Lions' defense came up big at the end by forcing three consecutive incompletions to stop the Rattlers' potential game-tying drive on downs late in the fourth quarter.

Applying pressure, something Henderson's defense has done well for most of the year, will be a big key. On the year, the Lions have racked up 31 sacks, but came away with just two last week. Some of that was because of the playmaking ability from Navasota quarterback Jeb Malek. Zaskoda is not the runner Malek was, so forcing the Sealy QB from the pocket could be a good way to throw off the Tigers' rhythm. Defensive end De'Braylon Garrett, aggressive linebacker Garrett Lybrand, and junior defensive lineman Keivie Rose, a Division I target who's missed most of the year to injury, will be Henderson's three most important players on defense Friday night.

Don't be surprised if: Henderson takes some shots deep down the field with its passing game. The Lions' offense was very methodical last week against Navasota with all five scoring drives covering at least 62 yards, and three of the five lasting more than five minutes. Henderson only had eight possessions all game, one of which was a kneel-down before halftime and another to run out the game clock in the fourth quarter. So on drives when Henderson was trying to score, it was successful five of six times. And as a result, Henderson had more than an eight-minute advantage in time of possession.

Henderson QB Trae Hall. (© Rob Graham,

Sealy knows its offense is the key to its winning, so the more possessions the Tigers have, the better off they are. So expect Sealy to do everything it can to take away the Henderson running game, and that includes bringing up safeties to the line of scrimmage, which leaves receivers like Caleb Medford and Treylun Blanton in single coverage. At 68.5 percent, Henderson's Trae Hall is one of East Texas' most accurate quarterbacks, and Medford and Treylun Blanton are capable weapons on the outside. The Lions won't hesitate to take their chances deep if the matchups are favorable.