PREVIEW: Palestine Needs Win Over Henderson to Make Playoffs
DISTRICT 9-4A DIVISION I
Palestine Wildcats (4-5, 2-3)
Henderson Lions (7-2, 3-2)
7:30 p.m. Friday
Lions Stadium, Henderson
- Palestine: Robby Clark
- Henderson: Phil Castles
- Palestine: TBD
- Henderson: vs. TBD, 4A Division I bi-district playoffs
- QB Tyler Gray, Jr., 5-7, 155 (94 of 202, 1,527 yards, 10 TDs, 14 INTs; 71 carries, 509 yards, 8 TDs)
- RB Jeremiah Davis, Soph. (187 carries, 1,099 yards, 13 TDs; 7 catches, 108 yards, 0 TDs)
- HB TJ Dever, Jr., 6-3, 235 (31 catches, 594 yards, 4 TDs)
- LB Keshawn Nonette, Soph. (68.5 tackles, 16.5 for loss, 4.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 2 recoveries, 1 PBU)
- RB/DB Josh Williams, Jr. (3 carries, 309 yards, 3 TDs; 89 tackles, 19 for loss, 1 sack, 1 INT, 3 PBUs, 3 forced fumbles, 2 recoveries, 2 blocked kicks)
- LB Roderick Deyon, Sr. (78 tackles, 7 for loss, 1 sack, 1 INT, 1 PBU)
- DL Nomar Villegas, Sr. (50 tackles, 13 for loss, 5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovery, 2 blocked kicks)
- WR Robert Gipson, Jr., 5-8, 168 (18 catches, 310 yards, 3 TDs)
- QB Trae Hall, Sr., 6-3, 185 (84 of 122, 1,317 yards, 8 TDs, 2 INTs; 112 carries, 633 yards, 13 TDs)
- WR/LB Tyrek Blanton, Sr., 6-2, 190 (12 catches, 110 yards, 1 TD; 61 tackles, 10 for loss, 2 sacks, 6 QB pressures, 3 INTs, 3 PBUs, 2 defensive TDs)
- LB Garrett Lybrand, Sr., 6-2, 200 (85 tackles, 21 for loss, 2 sacks, 19 QB pressures, 1 INT, 4 PBUs, 2 forced fumbles)
- DL De'Braylon Garrett, Sr. (60 tackles, 14 for loss, 8 sacks, 13 QB pressures, 1 PBU)
- RB D.Q. Murphy, Sr., 5-8, 180 (109 carries, 575 yards, 4 TDs)
- WR Caleb Medford, Soph. (25 catches, 635 yards, 4 TDs)
- DB Keshoyn Alexander, Jr., 5-8, 165 (36 tackles, 3 INTs, 4 PBUs, 1 forced fumble, 1 defensive TD)
- LB Brady Odom, Soph. (91 tackles, 12 for loss, 6 sacks, 8 QB pressures, 2 PBUs)
Just the facts
- Palestine needs a win over Henderson AND a Kilgore win over Bullard to reach the playoffs, OR a win over Henderson AND a Bullard win over Kilgore by five points or more.
- Henderson has already qualified for the playoffs. The Lions could end up with the second, third, or fourth seed from the district depending on Friday's outcomes.
- Palestine is averaging 33.1 points and 375.9 yards per game -- 206.2 rushing and 169.7 passing.
- Wildcats running back Jeremiah Davis has five 100-yard rushing games this season.
- Palestine is allowing 35.3 points per game, and has forced 15 turnovers -- six interceptions and nine fumbles.
- Henderson is averaging 31.8 points and 339.6 yards per game -- 188.9 rushing and 150.7 passing.
- Lions receiver Caleb Medford is averaging 25.4 yards per catch.
- Henderson is allowing 21.6 points per game, and has forced 16 turnovers -- 12 interceptions and four fumbles.
Key matchup: Henderson passing attack vs. Palestine secondary. Lions quarterback Trae Hall, who holds a handful of Division I FBS scholarship offers, is coming off his best game of the 2017 season. In last week's 41-14 rout of Bullard, Hall completed 16 of 21 passing attempts for 343 yards and four touchdowns. The TD total doubled his season output in the first eight games of the year. Caleb Medford and Tre Blanton were the two biggest beneficiaries. Medford, only a sophomore, caught seven passes for 209 yards and three scores, while Blanton had five receptions for 90 yards.
Palestine's defense has been victimized by opposing passing games for most of the season. The Wildcats enter Friday's regular-season finale surrendering 198 passing yards per game, but that number has sky-rocketed in the last three weeks. In games against Bullard, Chapel Hill, and Carthage, the Wildcats have allowed a total of 821 yards through the air and 10 touchdown passes. Palestine will need to be at its best in the secondary in order to keep Henderson's big-play quarterbacks and receivers from doing significant damage.
Don't be surprised if: Palestine tries to get running back Jeremiah Davis going early. The sophomore sensation has been a revelation for head coach Robby Clark this season with more than 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns. If the Wildcats are forced into being one-dimensional with the passing game, a very talented Henderson defense could turn the tide in the Lions' favor. Palestine quarterback Tyler Gray has a completion percentage of just less than 50 percent and has thrown 14 interceptions on the year. He's at his best as a compliment to Davis and the ground game. Henderson, meanwhile, has racked up 12 interceptions as a team this season.