Van Vandals (2-1)

vs.

Pittsburg Pirates (2-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday
Pirate Stadium, Pittsburg

Coaches

  • Van: Jared Moffatt
  • Pittsburg: Brad Baca

Last week

Next week

  • Van: vs. Brownsboro, Sept. 28
  • Pittsburg: at Kilgore, Sept. 28

Players to watch

Van

  • RB Elijah Rankine, Jr., 5-10, 164 (50 carries, 364 yards, 2 TDs; 9 catches, 109 yards, TD)
  • WR Ethan Robinson, Sr., 5-10, 145 (22 catches, 459 yards, 6 TDs)
  • QB Jayton Moffatt, Jr., 5-10, 170 (29 of 42, 437 yards, 3 TDs; 11 carries, 65 yards, TD)
  • QB Liam Nielson, Sr. (38 of 52, 482 yards, 5 TDs; 6 carries, 43 yards)
  • RB/LB AJ Zarate, Sr., 6-0, 205 (15 carries, 65 yards, 2 TDs; 37 tackles, 3 for loss, 1 INT, 1 defensive TD)
  • DE Jayden Jacobs, Jr., 6-2, 195 (20 tackles, 7 for loss, 6 sacks, 1 PBU)
  • S Ridge Preston, Sr., 5-11, 150 (21 tackles)
  • LB Mauricio Herrera, Soph., 5-7, 177 (24 tackles, 4 for loss, 1 sack)

Pittsburg

  • WR/S Keontae Burns, Sr., 6-3, 175 (15 catches, 275 yards, 2 TDs; 1 carry, 25 yards, TD; 13 tackles, 2 for loss, 3 PBUs)
  • QB/CB Jaylon Jimmerson, Sr., 6-0, 190 (39 of 69, 646 yards, 6 TDs, 1 INT; 46 carries, 364 yards, 4 TDs; 18 tackles, 1 for loss, 2 INTs, 1 PBU, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovery)
  • WR/CB Keithlen Griffin, Sr., 6-0, 160 (13 catches, 199 yards, 3 TDs; 6 tackles, 1 INT, 3 PBUs)
  • RB/LB Antwon Robertson, Sr. (28 carries, 171 yards, TD; 14 tackles, 2 for loss, 6 QB pressures)
  • LB Camryn Edney, Sr., 6-0, 208 (39 tackles, 8 for loss, 2 sacks, 3 QB pressures)
  • LB Mason Monts, Jr., 5-10, 175 (34 tackles, 1 for loss, 3 QB pressures, 1 forced fumble)
  • DT Undra Bates, Jr. (16 tackles, 2 for loss, 1 sack, 6 QB pressures)
  • WR Promous Morrison, Jr., 5-9, 176 (5 catches, 116 yards, TD)

Just the facts

  • Since 2014, Van is 19-2 in non-district games.
  • Pittsburg is 13-5 in non-district games under head coach Brad Baca.
  • Van is averaging 41.7 points and 508.3 yards per game -- 202 rushing and 306.3 passing.
  • Vandals senior receiver Ethan Robinson has six of his team's eight touchdown receptions.
  • Van's defense is allowing 25.7 points per game, and has forced two turnovers -- one interception and one fumble.
  • Pittsburg is averaging 32.3 points and 456.3 yards per game -- 236.3 rushing and 220 passing.
  • Pirates senior quarterback Jaylon Jimmerson is averaging 336.7 yards of offense per game.
  • Pittsburg's defense is allowing 26.7 points per game, and has forced six turnovers -- three interceptions and three fumbles.
Van QB Liam Nielson. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Van passing attack vs. Pittsburg secondary. Despite using a pair of quarterbacks in all three games, the Vandals' offense has been among the very best in all of East Texas in 2018. Van is averaging more than 40 points and 500 yards per game, and the signal-calling tandem of junior Jayton Moffatt and senior Liam Nielson have led the way. Both quarterbacks have combined for 919 yards, eight touchdowns, and a completion percentage of 71.2. Vandals head coach Jared Moffatt may not have intended on maintaining his quarterback rotation all the way through non-district, but the fact of the matter is neither Jayton Moffatt or Nielson have played their way out of the starting job. It seems as if both players are pushing each other, which is good news for Van, and bad news for opposing defenses.

Pittsburg WR/S Keontae Burns. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

Pittsburg has the unenviable task of trying to limit Van's passing attack this week, but they'll do so with one of the top secondaries in the area. While cornerbacks Jaylon Jimmerson and Keithlen Griffin and safety Keontae Burns also start on the offensive side of the ball, that hasn't negatively affected their play on defense. Jimmerson and Griffin are responsible for all three of the Pirates' interceptions, while Burns' range and physicality at safety make him one of the top players at his position in East Texas. They'll all need to be at the top of their game Friday against Van's dynamic duo at quarterback and receiving corps that features Ethan Robinson, who comes into this week with an area-best 459 yards with six touchdowns on 22 catches.

Don't be surprised if: Friday's game is high-scoring. Both Van and Pittsburg average at least 32 points and 450 yards per game, while the defenses have been a work in progress through the first three weeks. The Vandals will need strong performances from defensive end Jayden Jacobs, who has six sacks, linebacker AJ Zarate, and safety Ridge Preston to keep Pittsburg's high-flying offense in check. The Pirates' offense is led by Jimmerson, one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the region. Jimmerson comes into this week averaging almost 340 yards from scrimmage per game.