7:30 p.m. Friday
Vandal Stadium, Van
Pine Tree: Derek Fitzhenry
Van: Jared Moffatt
Next week
Pine Tree: vs. Center
Van: at Hallsville
Pine Tree
  • QB Jake Oden, Sr., 6-1, 185
  • RB Victor Hawkins, Sr., 6-1, 190
  • FB/DT Eddie Calico, Sr., 6-0, 240
  • RB Douglas Morgan, Soph., 6-0, 180
  • FB Quay Ward, Soph., 5-9, 195
  • WR Caleb Chumley, Jr., 6-4, 215
  • OL Andrew Lee, Jr., 6-2, 265
  • DT Syd Moore, Sr., 6-1, 260
  • QB Garrett Smallwood, Sr., 6-0, 185
  • WR Carson Rucker, Jr., 6-3, 215
  • LB Hunter Hopkins, Sr., 6-1, 190
  • WR Rigo Lemus, Sr., 5-9, 170
  • OL Tavo Lemus, Sr., 6-0, 260
  • RB Matt Savis, Soph., 5-8, 165
Just the facts
  • Van defensive tackle Syd Moore had 102 tackles, 34 for loss, and eight sacks in 2011. Moore holds offers from SMU, ULM, and Texas State.
  • Pine Tree rushed for 332.2 yards per game in 2011, an improvement of 155.3 yards per game from 2010.
  • On the other hand, Pine Tree threw for only 14.3 yards per game last season, 40.2 fewer than in 2011.
  • Van's Garrett Smallwood threw for 3,175 yards, 34 touchdowns, and only seven interceptions during his junior season.
  • Rigo Lemus is Smallwood's top returning target after catching 45 passes for 797 yards and nine touchdowns. Carson Rucker had 25 catches for 312 yards and four scores a year ago.
  • Pine Tree's Jake Oden is by far the Pirates' top returning rusher from 2011. Of the 1,121 returning rushing yards (out of PT's 3,322 from last season), Oden ran for 710 and scored 12 times on the ground orchestrating PT's triple-option flexbone offense.

Key matchup: Van's passing game vs. Pine Tree's defense. Van quarterback Garrett Smallwood is back after a huge junior season. He averaged 264.5 passing yards a game to lead Van to a 10-2 record. Pine Tree surrendered 39.1 points per game last season and particularly struggled against good passing games, such as Henderson (58 points), Nacogdoches (42 points), John Tyler (52 points), and Whitehouse (70 points). Pine Tree proved that regardless of its defense's success (or lack of), the Pirates would move the ball on the ground. That's why their points per game

went from 21.4 last season from the 9.7 they averaged in 2010. But the big question in Friday's season opener is can Pine Tree find a way to slow Van's passing game enough to give the Pirates' rushing attack a chance to hang around and control the clock and field position?

Don't be surprised if: There is plenty of scoring. Van has seven returning starters from an offense that averaged 43.7 points per game, and coach Jared Moffatt is confident that Smallwood, Lemus, Rucker, and the rest of the Vandals can have that type of offensive output again. Pine Tree isn't much different. Six returning offensive starters should help the Pirates try to improve on all the progress they made last year, which is a possibility in the second year of a system as unique as the flexbone. The key for Pine Tree, as it often was last season, is turnovers. The defense's struggles were magnified by an offense that frequently moved the ball successfully, only to give it away before turning drives into points. If that's the case, Van could run away with it, especially considering the Vandals' offense is far more likely to score quickly than the almost run-exclusive PT offense, which attempted 5.2 passes per game last year.