CLASS 4A DIVISION I
Region III Semifinal

Van Vandals (10-2)

vs.

Henderson Lions (8-4)

7 p.m. Friday
Wildcat Stadium, Whitehouse

Coaches

  • Van: Jared Moffatt
  • Henderson: Phil Castles

Last week

Next week

  • Winner vs. Carthage or Midlothian Heritage, 4A Division I, Region III final

Players to watch

Van

  • WR Ethan Robinson, Sr., 5-11, 155 (77 catches, 1,197 yards, 17 TDs)
  • DE Jayden Jacobs, Jr., 6-2, 195 (122 tackles, 40 for loss, 17 sacks, 3 PBUs, 6 forced fumbles, 1 recovery)
  • RB/LB AJ Zarate, Sr., 6-0, 205 (32 carries, 121 yards, 6 TDs; 131 tackles, 15 for loss, 2 INTs, 3 forced fumbles, 1 recovery, 1 defensive TD)
  • RB Elijah Rankine, Jr., 5-10, 164 (188 carries, 1,281 yards, 14 TDs; 44 catches, 452 yards, 3 TDs)
  • QB Liam Nielson, Sr., 6-2, 195 (87 of 135, 1,101 yards, 11 TDs, 4 INTs; 13 carries, 65 yards, 1 TD)
  • WR Bray Doring, Sr., 5-11, 165 (36 catches, 371 yards, 3 TDs)
  • CB Reeve Hughes, Jr., 5-10, 155 (63 tackles, 1 for loss, 11 PBUs, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovery)
  • DE Tristan Gentry, Sr., 5-9, 170 (92 tackles, 15 for loss, 4 sacks)

Henderson

  • DE Keivie Rose, Sr., 6-3, 264 (42 tackles, 7 for loss, 2 sacks, 23 QB pressures, 4 PBUs, 4 forced fumbles, 2 recoveries)
  • QB/WR Caleb Medford, Jr., 6-3, 185 (14 of 26, 222 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs; 49 carries, 441 yards, 6 TDs; 28 catches, 524 yards, 6 TDs)
  • LB Brady Odom, Jr., 5-11, 210 (150 tackles, 20 for loss, 3 sacks, 14 QB pressures, 1 INT, 9 PBUs, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovery)
  • RB Kevin Fields, Jr., 6-0, 190 (150 carries, 772 yards, 7 TDs; 5 catches, 100 yards, 1 TD)
  • QB Sevastian De Leon, Sr., 5-8, 155 (92 of 165, 1,313 yards, 14 TDs, 6 INTs; 59 carries, 190 yards, 2 TDs)
  • WR Jy Fuller, Jr., 6-0, 160 (18 catches, 249 yards, 2 TDs)
  • RB/LB Eli Jones, Jr., 5-10, 210 (106 carries, 572 yards, 6 TDs; 24 tackles, 3 for loss, 2 QB pressures)
  • RB/DB Keshoyn Alexander, Sr., 5-9, 180 (23 carries, 231 yards, 4 TDs; 40 tackles, 1 INT, 3 PBUs)

Just the facts

  • Van is averaging 35.2 points and 378.5 yards per game – 162.5 rushing and 216 passing
  • The Vandals have won at least 10 games in a season for the fifth time in the last eight seasons
  • Vandals junior running back Elijah Rankine is averaging 144.4 yards from scrimmage per game
  • The cumulative record of Van’s opponents is 72-63 (.533)
  • Van is allowing 20.6 points per game, has 28 sacks, and has forced 24 turnovers – 10 interceptions and 14 fumbles
  • Henderson is averaging 29.4 points and 332.9 yards per game – 204.1 rushing and 128.8 passing
  • With a win, Henderson would advance to its third consecutive regional final
  • Lions junior Caleb Medford has accounted for 1,187 yards of offense 13 touchdowns – six rushing, six receiving, and one passing
  • The cumulative record of Henderson’s opponents is 73-60 (.549)
  • Henderson is allowing 18.1 points per game, has 25 sacks, and has forced 22 turnovers – nine interceptions and 13 fumbles
Henderson QB?WR Caleb Medford. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Henderson rushing attack vs. Van defensive front. If there was ever a week that the Henderson Lions needed a big performance from their ball carriers, it's this one. Van has the area's most productive pass rusher in junior Jayden Jacobs, whose 17 sacks in 12 game lead East Texas. Lions quarterback Sevastion De Leon was knocked out in the second half of Henderson's regular-season matchup with Van, which only underscores the importance of Henderson's running game this week. In the Week 11 loss to Van, Henderson ran for just 79 yards on 39 carries, an average of only two yards per attempt. The passing game suffered as a result as De Leon was intercepted twice, and managed just 76 yards through the air. Whether it's leading rusher Kevin Fields, multi-purpose athlete Caleb Medford, or bruiser Eli Jones, Henderson must find a way to establish the run Friday night.

Van LB AJ Zarate. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

Van's defense is among the stingiest in the area. Beginning with the 21-20 win over Henderson in the regular-season finale, it's been tough sledding for opposing offenses the last three weeks. Jacobs' combination of size and speed make him difficult to defend on the perimeter, while the linebacking corps led by AJ Zarate and Mauricio Herrera fly to the football and rarely miss tackles. Henderson has a similarly stout defense, so points could be hard to come by on the other side as well. Van's defense must continue its strong play against the run Friday.

Don't be surprised if: Turnovers make the difference. The first meeting between Henderson and Van this season was defined by good defense and sloppiness on offense. The two teams combined for six turnovers, and each team recorded defensive touchdowns, while neither offense netted more than 155 yards on the night. If both Henderson and Van's defense continue to shine, it will be up to the offenses of each team to protect the football.