Lindale Travels To Van For Teams’ Biggest Game Yet Of Early Season
Lindale Eagles (1-1)
Van Vandals (2-0)
7:30 p.m. Friday
Van Memorial Stadium, Van
- Lindale: Mike Meador
- Van: Jared Moffatt
- Lindale: idle
- Van: at Brownsboro
- LB Kale Ridge, Jr., 6-3, 210
- RB Ryan Taylor, Sr., 5-8, 175
- OL Justin Fisher, Sr., 6-0, 285
- DL Tyler Segrest, Sr., 6-1, 250
- QB Montana Meador, Jr., 5-11, 155
- DL Terrell Cooper, Jr., 6-3, 215
- WR Kendrick Price, Sr., 6-3, 185
- TE Cameron Sir Louis, Jr., 6-3, 205
- WR/DB Tayton Williams, Sr., 5-7, 160
- DB Carson Mizell, Sr., 6-1, 185
- RB Aphonso Thomas, Sr., 6-0, 190 (committed to Nebraska)
- OL Clay Gandy, Sr.
- DB Cooper Bledsoe, Jr., 6-0, 165
- K Jozef Ruiz, Sr., 5-8, 165
- LB Rielly Krumvieda, Sr., 6-1, 270
- WR Kendrick Jones, Sr.
- WR Bradley Fitzgerald, Sr., 6-3, 185
- ATH Brett Doring, Sr.
- LB Dacavian Rose, Sr.
Just the facts
- The two teams have met 19 times since 1986. Lindale holds a 14-5 advantage.
- Lindale and Van are meeting for the sixth consecutive season. Four of the past five games have been decided by no more than 14 points -- the Vandals' 52-20 win last season was the exception.
- The Eagles have won their past two trips to Van Memorial Stadium.
- Van has not backed off much from last year's offensive production on the scoreboard. It outscored Palestine and Spring Hill by a combined 100-35.
- Lindale is performing better across the board compared to last season. It pitched a shutout against Chapel Hill in Week 1 and held a very good Carthage team to 24 points while its own offense is 17 points ahead of last year's pace.
- Friday's game is Lindale's last non-district contest. Van has two more against Brownsboro and Paris North Lamar.
- The Vandals have the game's highest recruited player. Nebraska running back commitment Aphonso Thomas. He has 265 rushing yards on 36 carries with five scores on the ground, and he needs just 35 more yards to crack the ETSN.fm rushing leader board when it debuts next week.
- Van senior linebacker Dacavian Rose had a monster game against Spring Hill. He recorded 12 tackles, including four sacks, and forced three fumbles.
- Van picked up more votes in the latest Associated Press Class 4A poll. It has six points overall, good enough for a tie with China Spring for 17th place. The Vandals are one of seven East Texas teams ranked or receiving votes among 4A teams.
Key matchup: Van's offense versus Lindale's defense.
The Vandals have been experimenting with two quarterbacks through the early season, Connor Houston and Garrett Moseley, but that hasn't stopped the offense from putting up big numbers. Lindale can expect another balanced attack, but this version of Van football has leaned more toward the run through its games than it did last season.
Running back Aphonso Thomas leads the way with 265 rushing yards, but both quarterbacks also have running capabilities. In fact, Moseley has 148 net yards on the ground to provide the one-two punch you might have thought left after the departure of running back Matt Savis to Southeastern Oklahoma State. Van has 695 rushing yards to 294 yards through the air.
Obviously, Thomas is the player the Eagles will have to emphasize defensively. But receivers Jax Tobias, Isiah Allred and Bradley Fitzgerald deserve respect and have to be accounted for.
Lindale's defense is pinned between a rock and a hard place with Van's playmakers distributed across the field. They're going to have to bait the Vandals into favoring a phase of offense, and it's probably going to be the passing game since the Van quarterbacks are still new and have combined to complete exactly 50 percent of their 40 pass attempts.
But to even get in position to win the head-to-head battles, the Eagles will probably have to take chances loading the box to slow down Thomas and the quarterbacks. It would be huge if the defensive front holds its ground with just six or seven committed defenders to the run to set up adequate positioning downfield for the pass.
If Lindale can slow Van's running game, this is a game that hinges on Eagles' secondary. Cornerback Tayton Williams and safety Carson Mizell already have interceptions this season and the unit matches up well with the opposing receivers physically if they play a few yards off-man. Allred and Fitzgerald are too big for the guys to confront right at the line of scrimmage.
Don't be surprised if: The outcome of Friday's game dictates Lindale's level of play in its next game against Corsicana. The Eagles were in this 1-1 spot last year and lost to the Vandals big after a brutal third quarter then lost to Corsicana by a point. The best thing for a team like Lindale -- one of the smallest Class 5A teams in the state -- would be to keep the confidence level high. Their upcoming game against Corsicana is important for playoff positioning later in the season, and there are other District 16-5A teams still looking for their identities. The Eagles can define theirs for the next stretch with a win against a very good Van team. But it won't be easy.