Undefeated Van Begins Playoff Run Against Paris Team With Stronger Strength Of Schedule
Class 4A Division I
Region II Bi-District Playoff
Paris Wildcats (6-4)
No. 7 Van Vandals (10-0)
7:30 p.m. Thursday
Wilkerson-Sanders Stadium, Rockwall
- Paris: Steven Hohenberger
- Van: Jared Moffatt
- Paris: defeated Paris North Lamar, 51-23
- Van: defeated Kaufman, 31-0
- Winner faces Springtown-Sanger winner in Class 4A Division I area playoff.
- DE Brice Borgeson, Sr., 6-3, 225 (63 tackles, 12 for loss, 4 sacks; committed to Northwestern State)
- RB Aphonso Thomas, Jr., 5-11, 190 (92 carries, 828 yards, 11 TDs)
- RB Matt Savis, Sr., 5-10, 190 (139 carries, 851 yards, 15 rushing TDs, 9 catches, 143 receiving yards, 3 TD receptions)
- OL Wyatt Santos, Sr., 6-2, 318 (offensive lineman MVP at ETSN.fm Football Recruiting Combine)
- QB Peter Maddox, Sr., 6-0, 180 (108 for 176, 1,808 passing yards, 26 passing TDs, 6 INTs)
- Hunter Redmond, Sr., 6-1, 152 (136 tackles, 16 for loss, 1 forced fumble)
- WR Layton Myers, Sr., 5-10, 160 (9 games players, 30 receptions, 685 yards, 15 TDs)
- QB Quez Allen, Jr., 6-3, 212
- RB Dren Rollerson Jr., 5-8, 190
- RB Ja'Kerion Brown, Soph., 5-6, 147
- WR/S K.D. Scott, Sr., 6-2, 185
Just the facts
- Van capped its sixth perfect regular season in school history last week with a 31-0 win against Kaufman.
- The Vandals also secured their first shutout of the season in the win.
- Van head coach Jared Moffatt did not seem particularly thrilled to draw Paris from District 7-4A Division I. The Wildcats finished the regular season in a three-way tie for second place in the district and got bumped to the fourth place slot on point differential.
- Wilkerson-Sanders is about 67 miles from Van and 84 miles from Paris.
- Van's last trip out of the bi-district round came in 2011 when it defeated Ferris. It lost in the area round the next week to a Gilmer team that advanced 3A Division II region championship round.
- The Vandals defense is headlined by linebacker Hunter Redmond. He is among the top five in East Texas in total tackles.
- Van defensive end Brice Borgeson is committed to Northwestern State.
- Vandals head coach Jared Moffatt is 2-4 with Van in playoff games.
- Van is projected to reach the Region II championship game before falling to Argyle in Dave Campbell's Texas Football's managing editor Greg Tepper and associate editor E.J. Holland's Class 4A Division I playoff predictions. Argyle is projected to win the state championship in the simulations.
- The Vandals finished the regular season ranked by the Associated Press as the No. 7 state-wide in Class 4A. Among Division I bracket members, it ranks fourth behind No. 1 Navasota, No. 2 Argyle and No. 4 Kennedale.
- Argyle and Kennedale are also in Region II, but Van won't have to worry about either until the regional championship game. At least one of those teams will be eliminated by that theoretical point.
- Paris defeated Mt. Pleasant, Chapel Hill and Liberty-Eylau from the East Texas region in the regular season. It lost to Pittsburg. Van played none of those teams.
Key matchup: Van's defense against Paris' offensive skill players. Head coach Jared Moffatt did not seem very thrilled with having to deal with Paris in the first round on the heels of his team's 31-0 regular season finale win against Kaufman.
Paris quarterback Quez Allen is a true dual-threat player with a well put together offensive line in front of him, good running backs alongside him and some dangerous receivers to the outside. Van has a strong front seven, which could ultimately force Allen to commit to one aspect of his game.
Defensive end Brice Borgeson is Van's best next-level talent, a Northwestern State commitment. Linebacker Hunter Redmond finished the regular season as East Texas' leading tackler. Back along the defensive line, tackle Drew Burroughs has emerged as a very solid player and end Ben Buchanan is a quick player that should be able effectively cut down the second edge opposite Borgeson.
Kaufman had to commit to the run against Van last week and didn't even find the red zone.
The Vandals defense has performed very well against balanced offenses all season. Only one of Van's games has been decided by less than one full possession. That game came against Athens' run-heavy, clock control styled offense.
If Paris finds offensive success, the Vandals have the weapons they need to slow down the Wildcats' attack. Running backs Aphonso Thomas and Matt Savis eat each others' carries, but both players should hit the 1,000-yard mark if they get to play two more games. Neither player has shouldered much of a burden all season with a strong passing offense to compliment them, but they probably can if the time comes with the help of a strong offensive line.
Paris' defense averaged about 26 points given up per game in its run to the playoffs.
Don't be surprised if: Thursday's game is a tough one for Van to initially get a handle on. Paris definitely is not the weakest team in the Region II bracket, and it has been battled tested. The Wildcats played a tougher overall schedule featuring Argyle and Chapel Hill in non-district play, both games losses.
None of Van's non-district opponents made the playoffs. Among the top 10 Class 4A teams in the Associated Press' poll aligned in the Division I bracket, the Van is only there because of its perfect season.
A long playoff run generally entails dealing with adversity, a manageable deficit at some point along the path and a second effort to come back and get control of the game. Don't be surprised if Paris gets Van acquainted with playoff football.