By SCOTT W. COLEMAN
Four Points News
While it can be said that every game is important, late-season matchups often have significant implications for teams hoping to reach the postseason.
This week’s meeting with Hays is no different. This is the last game of the regular season for the Rebels, who come in with a 2-3 mark in district play. The Rebels need to win on Friday to keep their playoff hopes alive. A loss doesn’t necessarily doom the Rebels, but it does mean the Rebels could end up in a tie for the fourth playoff spot with Vista Ridge and Leander.
Vandegrift, however, enters with a 3-1 record in District 25-6A. A win on Friday would put the Vipers in the playoffs. But a loss to Hays on Friday, with a regular season finale on the road at Lake Travis looming, could put Vandegrift in the middle of a four-way tie. The Vipers own head-to-head victories over Vista Ridge and Leander, but a loss to Hays would drop the Vipers to the lower seed in the Division II playoff bracket — meaning a tougher first-round playoff game.
The Rebels have come a long way since starting the season 1-5. Wins over Lehman and Leander have put the Rebels in position to make the playoffs. Scheduling benefits the Rebels, as Vista Ridge has to finish the season against Lake Travis and Westlake and Leander still has Westlake to play this Friday. All of which means, the Rebels may still reach the playoffs even with a loss to Vandegrift on Friday. But a win would give Hays the better first-round playoff matchup.
Coach Neal La Hue has played juniors Gentry Brawith and Tyler Conley at quarterback this season, with Conley taking over exclusively after the Rebels’ Sept. 30 loss to Westlake. His numbers haven’t been spectacular, but they aren’t at the bottom of the district in terms of efficiency, either. In the last three games, Conley is 34-of-71 passing for 619 yards with six touchdowns and six interceptions. Conley is a pocket passer. He’s only credited with 26 runs in eight games, netting just 9 yards.
The rushing duties fall to Cade Powell, who leads the Rebels with 163 carries for 723 yards and 10 touchdowns. Wide receivers Tyrone Meredith, Marquis Howard and and Patrick Guerrero along with tight end Connor Music are at the top of the Rebels’ stats list in receiving, and all have multiple receiving touchdowns.
Having played Lake Travis and Westlake skews the defensive statistics a bit, but the Rebels have recorded 14 sacks this season and the defense helped to keep the Rebels competitive in four of their six losses.
This is Vandegrift’s final regular season home game. It’s also a game that the Vipers want to win to ensure a fourth-straight trip to the playoffs and build on their momentum heading into the regular season finale with Lake Travis next week.