There’s no hiding it, Liberty-Eylau’s first-year head football coach Dewaski Davis is excited about his 2020 team, and what the future might hold for the Leopards.
If Davis vision of the future becomes reality, few will remember what happened in 2019.
Liberty-Eylau supporters got a taste of what could be last week at Jefferson. The Leopards dominated the second half, and routed a good Class 3A Jefferson, 49-14.
It was an offensive explosion led by sophomore quarterback Jaydin Hampton (5-10, 175). Listening to Davis talk about his young signal-caller, you would think he’s discovered someone very special.
“Jaydin is starting to settle in at quarterback,” said Davis. “He threw for about 30 touchdowns last year on our freshman team. Jaydin has a big arm, and he’s like having another coach on the field.”
Young quarterback has Davis excited
Potentially, Jaydin has an explosive supporting cast on offense. Senior Damian Henderson is one of the best running backs in East Texas, and the Leopards’ opposition knows that. He scored four touchdowns in the win over Jefferson. Henderson’s stats will not match those of other backs, because he lines up on defense at linebacker most of the time.
“We want to utilize Damian’s talents on both sides of the ball,” said Davis. “We’re rotating a bunch of kids in an effort to keep everyone as fresh as we can. Last week Damian only had nine carries when we pulled him off offense because things were starting to get easy for us.”
Senior Takylan Hampton (5-10, 205) replaced Henderson on offense, and the numbers kept piling up. A big, big part of that was L-E’s huge offensive line that almost averages 300 pounds across.
“We’re extremely big up front offensively,” said Davis. “We’ve got a 6-3, 350-pounder; a 6-4, 290; a 6-4, 325, and our center is the runt at 240. The best new is that all our big, bigs will be back in 2021. None of them play both ways.”
Freshman receiver contributes for L-E
The Leopards didn’t need to throw a lot last week, but still passed for nearly 100 yards. Freshman Tamarcus Gray (6-3, 160) made a huge catch according to Davis.
“The receiving corps is pretty competitive right now and we want it that way so we can get the best out of them,” said L-E’s coach. “We’re finally moving in the right direction.”
Liberty-Eylau was facing adversity early in August when two players were diagnosed with coronavirus.
“After the first week of practice we had to shut down our offensive and defensive lines for two weeks,” said Davis. “It put us two weeks behind everyone and really hurt us in our first game with Henderson.”
Jefferson did some things early against the Leopards’ defense, but very little in the final two quarters.
L-E defense, special teams shine
Defensive end Darrion Crabtree (6-3, 240) had a big night. He intercepted a screen pass and returned it for a touchdown. Tackle De’von King (5-9, 220) was the coach’s choice for defensive player of the week. He had seven tackles, two hurries and two sacks that excited the entire defensive staff.
“We’re not big up front on defense, but we’re extremely fast,” said Davis. “We condition extremely hard, and we’re pushing to kids hard. This year we have some depth that helps us tremendously.”
Davis is also excited about the early play of his special teams.
“We’ve got so many kids who can return kicks,” he said. “We have put a lot of pressure on our opponents so far. This group may not be ‘old L-E’ yet, but we’re farther along than most of the teams in our division. If we can get to where we want to be we’ll be able to compete with teams like Gilmer.”
L-E will host rival Atlanta this Friday at Harris Field. Could be a repeat of the Jefferson game if the Leopards execute. Taking the Leopards in this one, 34-21.
In other Northeast Texas games:
Hooks at JEFFERSON — This game should be a barn-burner. Picking the Bulldogs, 14-13.
Redwater at WHITEWRIGHT — A long road trip to play a good team. Taking Whitewright, 27-21.
Linden-Kildare at JAMES BOWIE — The Tigers’ speed could easily lead them to victory, but picking the Pirates on a gut feeling, 20-18.
CELINA vs. Paul Pewitt — Another game I don’t like. Brahmas made it all the way to state in 2019, but Celina is also one of the best football programs in Texas. Picking Celina, 28-21.