Top 25 Games Of 2016: No. 23, Liberty-Eylau At Texas High
Whether you're on the Texas side or the Arkansas side, Texarkana absolutely is a high school football town.
No community does more to ensure its teams get together on at least a semi-regular basis and no local game this year is bigger than the all-Texas affair between Liberty-Eylau and Texas High. This is the No. 23-ranked game as ETSN.fm counts down the top 25 regular season games of 2016.
The Sept. 9 showdown inside Texas High's Tiger Stadium at Grim Park will give Liberty-Eylau the chance to show what it can do against a bigger school. It's the only game the Leopards will play outside of Class 4A all season.
The Tigers, on the other hand, are taking a winnable challenge approach with only seven returning starters in total. They won't play a Class 5A game until entering District 16-5A play at the end of September, but they will take on a wide array of opponents in Dallas Bishop Lynch, Texarkana Arkansas High and then Kilgore the week after Liberty-Eylau.
This particular game could be the biggest non-district test for the Tigers.
They're facing a Leopards team with somewhat known quantities on the heels of a 4A Division I regional championship appearance last season. They won't have their normal home field advantage. They'll also be facing a team that would love nothing more than to win Texarkana by beating Texas High and, through extension, Arkansas High ahead of facing Pleasant Grove two weeks later.
Texas High and Liberty-Eylau both feature two identified college football prospects.
The Tigers have quarterback Cade Pearson, a North Texas commitment and receiver Quan Hampton. The Leopards have defensive end Lagaryonn Carson, a Texas pledge, and offensive tackle Franklin Smith II.
Pearson will have to be aware of Carson at all times, and the Leopards defense as a whole has a longstanding reputation of being mean.
Liberty-Eylau should be close to a developed offensive threat by Week 3 after losing a quarterback-receiver connection that propelled both into the FBS level of NCAA Division I competition at the end of last season. The refreshed unit will be battle tested after facing Gilmer and Carthage the first two weeks of the season.
Texas High? Its inexperienced defense shouldn't have just a terrible time against Bishop Lynch and Arkansas High.
Yet the all-around depth advantage goes to the Tigers.
There's a lot of pride on the line when Texas High and Liberty-Eylau square off. And a lot of lessons to be learned during the game.