Van Hopes to Break “District of Doom” Curse Friday Against Henderson
Class 3A Division II Region II
Van Vandals (9-1)
Henderson Lions (6-4)
7:30 p.m. Friday
TMF Rose Stadium, Tyler
Van: Jared Moffatt
Henderson: Dickey Meeks
Next week: Winner plays Paris North Lamar or Quinlan Ford in a 3A Division II Region II area playoff.
- RB/DT Syd Moore, Sr., 6-1, 260 (43 carries, 229 yards, 7 TDs; 102 tackles, 30 for loss, 3 sacks, 1 INT)
- QB Garrett Smallwood, Sr., 6-0, 185 (135 of 230, 1,979 yards, 23 TDs, 11 INTs; 110 carries, 528 yards, 3 TDs)
- RB Matt Savis, Soph., 5-8, 165 (166 carries, 1,280 yards, 15 TDs; 26 catches, 461 yards, 2 TDs)
- WR Carson Rucker, Jr., 6-3, 215 (43 catches, 564 yards, 9 TDs)
- RB/LB Hunter Hopkins, Sr., 6-1,190 (38 carries, 435 yards, 8 TDs; 77 tackles, 7 for loss, 1 sack, 2 INTs, 3 forced fumbles)
- LB Hunter Redmond (104 tackles, 7 for loss, 1 sack, 2 forced fumbles)
- LB Bryce Krumvieda (95 tackles, 10 for loss, 2 sacks)
- DB Layton Myers (30 tackles, 5 INTs, 10 pass breakups)
- WR Andrew Platter (30 catches, 515 yards, 5 TDs)
- WR Luke McGowan (22 catches, 307 yards, 4 TDs)
- ATH Patrick “Monster” Brown, Sr., 5-10, 175 (22 of 35, 332 yards, 1 TD; 114 carries, 820 yards, 7 TDs; 18 catches, 317 yards, 2 TDs; 26.1 punt return average, 2 TDs)
- DE Bo Brady, Sr., 6-0, 195 (60 tackles, 23 for loss, 12.5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, 1 recovery)
- MLB Jamaal Kind, Sr., 5-10, 185 (89 tackles, 10 for loss, 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 2 recoveries)
- RB Diamante Wright, Sr., 5-11, 175 (166 carries, 738 yards, 11 TDs; 8 catches, 67 yards, 1 TD)
- OL Nick Siler, Sr., 6-4, 255 (committed to Air Force)
- QB Janson Moore, Sr. (53 of 95, 836 yards, 10 TDs, 4 INTs; 34 carries, 102 yards, 2 TDs)
- DB J’Korrie Centers, Sr. (47 tackles, 2 INTs, 2 forced fumbles)
- WR Jamie Anthony, Sr. (16 catches, 389 yards, 1 TD)
- LB/DB Kenny McCown, Sr. (45 tackles, 6 for loss, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovery, 3 punt blocks, 1 kick block)
- DL Brandon Armstrong (43 tackles, 6 for loss, 3 sacks)
Just the facts
- Van averages 40.6 points per game and allows 23.9.
- Henderson averages 27.1 points per game and allows 20.2.
- Van has played four playoff games during the last two seasons (2-2 record).
- Henderson has played nine playoff games during the last two seasons (8-1 record).
- Van has been knocked out of the playoffs by “District of Doom” teams each of the last two seasons (Gilmer both times).
- Henderson’s Patrick “Monster” Brown has eight kick return touchdowns since the beginning of the 2011 season.
- Brown and Van’s Syd Moore each have a ULM offer.
Key matchup: Van’s defensive front vs. Henderson’s running game. Perhaps the strength of Van’s defense is the front, which features Division I-caliber defensive tackle Syd Moore, who is tied with Carthage’s Isaiah Golden with 30 tackles for loss for the East Texas lead. Moore and company need to bring their “A” game Friday because they’ll see a Henderson offense that has slowly evolved into what is essentially a run-heavy wildcat scheme. Receiver Patrick “Monster” Brown has moved to quarterback, where he’s spearheaded the Lions’ attack the past few weeks. Brown has taken over Henderson’s rushing lead in that span and teams with fellow senior Diamante Wright to give the Lions a potent 1-2 ground game punch. But don’t let the run-first philosophy fool you; “Monster” can sling it if he needs to, and former starting QB Janson Moore has a 10-to-4 TD pass-to-INT ratio entering the playoffs. In other words, Henderson has the type of offense that can pound, pound, pound, then hurt with play action over the top. That may seem strange coming from a shotgun- and pistol-heavy offense, but that approach is at the core of what the Lions and offensive coordinator Ricky Joe Meeks are doing as the playoffs start.
- Van coach Jared Moffatt on facing a “District of Doom” opponent: “Any time you play a team out of (District 16-3A), they’re going to be good, let me tell you. Henderson is a superbly talented football team, but we are going to line up there and give them the best we can.”
- Henderson coach Dickey Meeks on what stands out about Van: “Offensively they’re good. I think the quarterback is an outstanding player. He’s a three-year starter. They’re a system offense. You just work within the system and go from there.”
- Meeks on which previous opponent is similar to Van: “I think they’re similar to Bullard. The same type of offense, the same type of structure. They way the play they’re not going to make mistakes. They’re not going to beat themselves.”
- Meeks on how he feels about his team entering the playoffs: “I think that we’ve improved. I think we’re trying to find a balance right now of exactly what we’re doing. We were able to do some of that last week. The biggest thing for us is to not turn the ball over.”
Don’t be surprised if: This game lives up to the expectation that it will be a competitive ball game. Van’s sterling 9-1 record should give the Vandals a lot of confidence entering this contest, but don’t let Henderson’s 6-4 mark fool you. Other than the season-opening loss to private school Plano Prestonwood Christian, the Lions lost three games by a combined seven points to Hallsville, Gilmer, and Kilgore. Those three opponents are all in the playoffs and are a combined 24-5. Despite being three games worse on the ledger, Henderson is likely the favorite entering this game. The District 16-3A pedigree and the experience in close games make the Lions a tough out in the postseason. Van has the personnel to beat Henderson, but the Vandals have struggled against another 16-3A team, Gilmer, the past two seasons. Gilmer’s athleticism fueled back-to-back 50-point outbursts against the Vandals, and Henderson possesses similar athleticism. Expect the Lions to try to hit the edges with their running game, outflank the Vandals, and beat them with their speed thanks to players such as Brown, Wright, and other. Van has a more balanced offense that should be a challenge to a Henderson defense that held its last nine opponents to 16.2 points per game. Friday at Rose Stadium should be a treat for fans.