PREVIEW: Longview Meets Unbeaten Hewitt Midway in Semifinals
CLASS 6A DIVISION II
Longview Lobos (13-1)
Hewitt Midway Panthers (14-0)
6 p.m. Saturday
Eagle Stadium, Allen
- Longview: John King
- Midway: Jeff Hulme
- Longview: def. Lufkin, 33-32
- Midway: def. Southlake Carroll, 42-28
- Winner faces either Cy Fair or Austin Westlake, 6A Division II state championship game, 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 23, AT&T Stadium, Arlington
- QB Haynes King, Soph., 6-3, 170 (115 of 208, 1,922 yards, 23 TDs 7 INTs; 19 carries, 222 yards, 2 TDs)
- DB Jalen Carr, Sr., 6-0, 160 (66 tackles, 3 for loss, 1 sack, 10 INTs, 5 PBUs, 3 blocked kicks)
- DB Jephaniah Lister, Jr., 5-9, 155 (130 tackles, 4 for loss, 2 sacks, 4 INTs, 4 PBUs, 1 forced fumble, 1 blocked kick)
- LB Ja'Vontae Writt, Jr., 5-9, 190 (90 tackles, 10 for loss, 3 sacks, 1 INT, 6 fumble recoveries)
- RB Keilyn Williams, Jr., 5-5, 145 (170 carries, 1,125 yards, 17 TDs; 11 catches, 161 yards, 1 TD)
- TE Jaylin Brown, Sr., 6-3, 205 (27 catches, 576 yards, 12 TDs)
- WR Kamden Perry, Jr., 6-0, 165 (43 catches, 610 yards, TDs)
- RB Jessie Anderson, Jr., 6-0, 225 (34 carries, 259 yards, 3 TDs)
- QB Tanner Mordecai, Sr., 6-2, 215 (255 of 424, 3,796 yards, 47 TDs, 8 INTs; 157 carries, 1,070 yards, 21 TDs; committed to Oklahoma)
- RB James Fullbright, Jr., 5-8, 190 (231 carries, 1,696 yards, 19 TDs; 24 catches, 181 yards)
- WR Clayton Williams, Sr., 6-1, 170 (83 catches, 1,442 yards, 19 TDs)
- TE David Priebe, Sr., 6-6, 220 (15 catches, 183 yards, 3 TDs; committed to SMU)
- OL Hakeem White, Sr., 6-3, 285 (committed to Texas Tech)
- DL Jaxon Player, Sr., 6-0, 282 (117 tackles, 30 for loss, 8 sacks, 9 QB pressures, 3 forced fumbles, 1 recovery; committed to Tulsa)
- OL Kaitori Leveston, Sr., 6-5, 290 (committed to Kansas State)
- OL Daizion Carroll, Sr., 6-3, 305 (committed to North Texas)
Just the facts
- Longview is averaging 42.3 points and 400.6 yards per game -- 221.6 rushing and 179 passing.
- Longview's average margin of victory this season is 21.9 points.
- Longview is allowing 20.4 points per game, and has forced 37 turnovers -- 21 interceptions and 16 fumbles.
- The cumulative record of Longview's opponents this season is 88-58 (.603).
- Midway is averaging 47 points and 505.5 yards per game -- 233.5 rushing and 272 passing.
- Midway's average margin of victory this season is 26.1 points.
- Midway is allowing 20.9 points per game, and has forced 33 turnovers -- 16 interceptions and 17 fumbles.
- The cumulative record of Midway's opponents this season is 96-69 (.582).
Key matchup: Longview running game vs. Midway defensive front. While the Lobos are still very much a run-first operation, injuries at running back and offensive line have caused Longview to become more creative on offense this season. And it helps to have an emerging star at quarterback in sophomore Haynes King, who has seemingly improved every week since taking over as the starter in Week 5. Longview still averages more than 200 rushing yards per game, and runs the ball nearly 63 percent of the time, but the 19.4 pass attempts per game are almost double what it was a season ago.
But this week, more than any other this season, might be when Longview's running game needs to take center stage. Longview will face a Midway offense that's been lighting up opposing defenses all season. The Panthers are putting up about 33 less yards per game in the playoffs, but are averaging slightly more points. In postseason wins over Grand Prairie, Trophy Club Nelson, Mansfield, and Southlake Carroll, Midway is averaging 48.8 points and 472 yards per game -- 251.2 passing and 220.8 rushing.
To keep Midway's offense from operating a full strength, Longview will need to shorten the game with time consuming drives, and to do that, a big game is needed from the Lobos' offensive line and running backs. Longview got a short in the arm last week with the return of junior Jessie Anderson (6-0, 225), who began the season as the starter before suffering a torn ligament in his right wrist. The injury sidelined Anderson until last Saturday when he carried seven times for 55 yards, helping the Lobos run for 202 yards against a Lufkin defense that came in allowing less than 82 rushing yards per game.
Speed backs Keilyn Williams and Jaquan Edwards have been carrying the load in Anderson's absence, and they'll continue to be called upon this week. Williams leads the team with 1,125 yards and 17 touchdowns. He averages 6.6 yards per carry on the season, and has been a factor on special teams with an average of 21.4 yards per return and one touchdown. Edwards is second on the team with 695 yards and nine touchdowns on 105 attempts. And don't discount King's effect as a runner. He enters Saturday's game with 222 yards and two touchdowns on only 19 carries.
Midway's offense gets a lot of the headlines, understandably, with its production and five Division I FBS commits. But the Panthers' defense has been strong all year as well. Midway has 67 tackles for loss for an average of about five per game. Most of that comes from senior defensive tackle Jaxon Player, who is committed to Tulsa. Player leads the team in stops behind the line of scrimmage with 30 and sacks with eight. Expect Longview to do its best to avoid Player's direction on offense.
Don't be surprised if: Longview tight end Jaylin Brown returns to a starring role on the Lobos' offense. Brown, the team leader in touchdown receptions, was held without a catch last week for the first time all season. And that was one week after his three-touchdown performance against Klein Collins in the regional semifinals. With the extra attention Lufkin paid to Brown in coverage, more opportunities were there for junior receiver Kamden Perry, who has taken over as the team leader in receiving yardage. Perry had a season-high eight catches for 115 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner with 54 seconds remaining, last week.
Midway might look to double up Perry on the outside, which could free Brown down the field, and that could be a very good thing for Longview. Brown is averaging 21.3 yards per catch, which is abnormal for a tight end, and 12 of his 27 receptions on the year have gone for touchdowns. More often that not, when Brown gets his hands on the ball, good things happen for Longview.