Liberty-Eylau Seeks Return Trip to State Quarterfinals + Meets One-Loss Kaufman
CLASS 4A DIVISION I REGIONAL
Kaufman Lions (11-1)
Liberty-Eylau Leopards (11-1)
7 p.m. Friday
Royse City ISD Stadium
- Kaufman: Craig Barker
- Liberty-Eylau: Steve Wells
- Kaufman: def. Alvarado, 15-10
- Liberty-Eylau: def. Sanger, 48-9
- Winner faces winner between Kennedale and Argyle, state quarterfinals
- RB Dru Prox, Sr., 6-1, 200 (152 carries, 1,54 yards, 23 TDs; 9 catches, 114 yards, 1 TD)
- RB Desmond Williams, Sr., 5-7, 165 (156 carries, 1,004 yards, 8 TDs; 16 catches, 148 yards, 1 TD)
- QB Austin Gomez, Sr., 5-11, 170 (76 of 154, 1,056 yards, 13 TDs, 2 INTs)
- WR Jefferson Fritz, Jr., 5-11, 185 (24 catches, 351 yards, 5 TDs; 16 carries, 223 yards, 3 TDs)
- LB Alec Guy, Sr., 6-3, 195
- DL Zachary Grubbs, Sr., 5-9, 220
- OL Jon Drew Burt, Sr., 6-0, 190
- DB Izaiha Starling, Sr., 5-11, 185
- QB Ke'Mon Freeman, Sr., 6-0, 205 (180 of 286, 3,098 yards, 26 TDs, 5 INTs; 185 carries, 1,512 yards, 22 TDs)
- DE Lagaryonn Carson, Jr., 6-5, 255 (committed to Texas)
- LB/S Andre Wiley, Sr., 5-10, 185
- WR Thurman Morbley, Sr., 6-0, 165 (49 catches, 1,159 yards, 11 TDs)
- RB Lamont Byrd, Sr., 5-9, 180 (174 carries, 1,376 yards, 22 TDs; 16 catches, 192 yards)
- WR Garyco Witcher, Sr., 5-9, 165 (48 catches, 825 yards, 6 TDs)
- LB DeMarcus Pegue, Sr., 5-10, 220
- OL Franklin Smith, Jr., 6-4, 280
Just the facts
- Kaufman is in the third round of the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
- Liberty-Eylau is in the third round of the playoffs for the second consecutive season.
- Kaufman is averaging 38.2 points per game, while allowing 18.4
- Lions coach Craig Barker is in his second season as Kaufman head coach. He was previously in charge at Garrison (2012-13) before serving as Henderson's offensive coordinator.
- The cumulative record of Kaufman's opponents this season is 73-59 (.553).
- Liberty-Eylau is averaging 47.6 points per game, while allowing 26.1.
- Leopards coach Steve Wells is in his second season as Liberty-Eylau head coach. He was previously in charge at Jacksonville (2008-11) and Mineola (2006-07).
- The cumulative record of Liberty-Eylau's opponents this season is 70-62 (.530).
Key matchup: Kaufman rushing attack vs. Liberty-Eylau defensive front. The Kaufman Lions come into Friday night's regional playoff matchup with a clear objective on offense: run the football. It's a formula that's carried Kaufman to 11 wins and one step from a berth in the state quarterfinals. For the season, the Lions have run 623 plays from scrimmage, and roughly 75 percent of those are rushing attempts. As a team, Kaufman averages 7.6 yards per carry, and will bring two 1,000-yard rushers into the Friday's game. Senior Dru Prox leads the team in yards and touchdowns, and his physical style of running has done a number on opposing defenses all season, while Desmond Williams brings a chance of pace to the defense with his slashing and quick-cutting capability.
Liberty-Eylau's defense is coming off an excellent showing in its area-round victory over Sanger, holding the Indians to just nine points and 224 total yards, most of which were gained late in the second half against the Leopards' reserve defenders. It's that type of defensive effort L-E will need this week against a Kaufman offense averaging almost 300 rushing yards per game.
The Leopards feature one of the most explosive offenses in East Texas. L-E enters this week averaging more than 47 points and 561 yards per game. Kaufman will try to dictate the pace of the game by sustaining long drives and consuming large chunks of time off the clock in an effort to keep the Leopards' offensive playmakers off the field. If L-E's defense is able to slow down Kaufman's ground attack, the Leoaprds could once again be in business and clinch their second consecutive berth in the state quarterfinals.
Don't be surprised if: Kaufman's defense plays back in coverage, and leaves a defender to spy on Liberty-Eylau dual-threat quarterback Ke'Mon Freeman. The Leoaprds' star signal-caller has thrown for almost 3,100 yards and run for more than 1,500, so it is a risky proposition to blitz, which could lead to big yardage on the ground for Freeman. Sending extra rushers could also lead to one-on-one matchups on the outside with a talented group of receivers, who are all capable of burning opposing defenses. Senior Thurman Morbley leads the team in catches, yards, and touchdowns, but the duo of Garyco Witcher and Decorian Meadows has combined for 90 receptions for 1,408 yards and 13 touchdowns. Doubling up on any of the three receivers is a dangerous game as well, so the ability of Kaufman's defensive backs to cover will be of primary importance Friday night.