MARSHALL, Texas – Don’t try to tell Liberty-Eylau football coach Dewaski Davis his Leopards can’t win Friday night’s 4A Division II bi-district game with the Van Vandals at Maverick Stadium.
Davis understands more than anyone that his club must execute to beat the Vandals, a school that defeated L-E earlier this year, 35-14.
The Leopards’ 6-4 record and third-place finish in District 8-4A Division II might not impress some. Football fans in the Texarkana area haven’t forgotten L-E was 0-9 in 2019. They have also not forgotten Davis took over the program in the summer. Davis is now a candidate for everyone’s Coach of the Year honor.
“The kids have worked their tails off; the coaches and players did a heck’uva job this year,” said Davis. “We’ve overcome so much this year. If we’re going to beat Van, the key will be turnovers, penalties, and taking advantage of our scoring opportunities. We left three touchdowns on the field in the first game with Van.”
L-E played its best game of the year last week in beating Pittsburg, 30-7. The Pirates were fortunate it was that close. Two long passes that could have resulted in Leopard touchdowns were dropped.
L-E reloads for Vandals
Davis has had to count on players stepping up this season after injuries. Arguably, the best player on the team (Damian Henderson) was lost for the season to a knee injury. Takalyn Hampton stepped in to keep the Leopards’ running game going. Last week junior quarterback Ian Jones started in place of injured sophomore J.J. Hampton. Jones rushed for 151 yards against Pittsburg.
“We feel good about this playoff game with Van,” said Davis. “Our scheme is good for them. Our kids are battle tested, having played Pleasant Grove and Gilmer. We’ve got to hold down No. 5 (Javanta Thomas). He’s a good running back that we couldn’t keep under control last time.”
Van (6-4) is balanced on offense with junior quarterback Jackson Rainey. He doesn’t throw a lot, but has been effective (59-98 for 805 yards, 9 TDs).
The Vandals have a big advantage in the kicking game with junior Alex Zifer. Sophomore Garrett Florey leads the Vandals’ defense with over 100 tackles.
The game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Unbeaten Caddo Hills or Hillsboro awaits the winner.
Other Texarkana area games:
PLEASANT GROVE (7-3) vs. Bullard (6-4), 6:30 p.m., Thursday, at Gladewater
Atlanta (3-7) vs. MINEOLA (9-1), 7 p.m., Thursday, at Longview Spring Hill
Pine Tree (5-0-1, 3-0) at TEXAS HIGH (6-0, 3-0), 7 p.m., Tiger Stadium at Grim Park
Anderson Shiro (6-4) vs. HUGHES SPRINGS (5-3), 7 p.m., Thursday, at Athens
DAINGERFIELD (8-2) vs. Grand Saline (3-6), 7 p.m., Thursday, at Ore City
HOOKS (5-4) vs. Troup (5-4), 7:30 p.m., Friday at Pittsburg
Gilmer Harmony (7-3) vs. PAUL PEWITT (6-3), 7:30 p.m., Friday, at Hallsville
Maud (3-5) vs. BREMOND (7-3), 7 p.m., Friday, at Brownsboro
JAMES BOWIE (7-3) vs. Hubbard (5-3), 2 p.m., Saturday, at Princeton