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L-E set for rematch with Van in first round

by Andrew Bell | November 11, 2021 at 10:00 p.m.

TEXARKANA, Texas -- Liberty-Eylau will face Van in the first round of the District 4A, Division II Playoffs today, looking for a different outcome than earlier in the season when the teams played each other.

Van (10-0, 4-0) narrowly took down the Leopards (5-5, 2-3) by a score of 27-25 in early October. L-E built up an early lead behind three first-half takeaways, but the Vandals rallied back with a strong second half to finish things off.

Today's bi-district game will start at 7:30 p.m. at Pine Tree's Pirate Stadium.

Leopard head coach Dewaski Davis said this familiarity with the team they'll be facing will be a key factor in game-planning for them.

"It gives up a pretty good advantage that we don't have to go in the dark on these guys," he said. "We know them inside and out. This will be the fourth time in two years playing them. So, we know each other pretty well, and I think we make each other play their best game."

Davis said it will be important to keep Van quarterback Jackson Rainey in check, as he caused problems in their last matchup with 271 total yards - 172 passing, 99 rushing - and two touchdowns.

"We've got to contain (Rainey) and keep him from getting on the edge because their best running game," he said. "We want to keep their receivers in front of us, make sure he stays in the pocket and collapse it on him."

On the season, Liberty-Eylau's defense has been stout, allowing only 22.7 points per game and 266.5 total yards per game. This unit has been adept at forcing key turnovers in close games.

Offensively, the Leopards are averaging 27.3 points per game and 305.3 yards per game.

J.J. Hampton has thrown for 1,189 yards, 12 TDs and five interceptions on 81-of-159 passing, while Marquarius Price has led them on the ground with 536 yards and six scores on 67 carries. Imahd Hicks has added 468 yards and eight TDs.

"Number one, we've got to control their defensive line," Davis said. "We've got to be physical up front, and we've got to take care of the football. We've just got to execute.

"Like I tell them now, we need to execute on a 75 percent level or better, and we like our chances."

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