For the second time in six weeks, Henderson and Gilmer will meet on the gridiron in Lobo Stadium with a lot on the line.
The Lions (9-4) and Buckeyes (12-1) face off in the Division II Class 3A quarterfinals at 7 p.m. Friday in Longview.
Two months ago, Henderson and Gilmer played to the final seconds when the Lions when a penalty denied Henderson from a potential two-point conversion that would’ve tied the game. Henderson also had two touchdowns called back for procedure penalties.
While walking off the field following a heartbreaking 28-26 loss, Henderson coach Dickie Meeks immediately began to envision and hope for a rematch.
“Coach (Jeff) Traylor and I have been talking since the playoffs started that we both wanted to play in this game because it meant that both teams were still playing,” Meeks said. “I saw three mistakes in that (first) game which cost a chance to win. We had some procedure penalties, and they were the correct calls, and we had a fumble early in the game that hurt us a whole lot.
“I am not going to say you don’t have as much preparation (for this rematch) because you do, but there’s not that much to study because you know what they do and they know what we do.”
Both Henderson and Gilmer are coming off convincing victories last week. Both came against opponents they’d faced in the 2011 postseason with Henderson taking out Celina (64-35) a second-straight year while Gilmer finally broke through against Argyle (42-12) after being denied the previous two years.
Henderson tailback Diamante Wright ran for a career-high 292 yards and three touchdowns on 30 carries to lead his team past Celina while Gilmer quarterback Tanner Barr passed for two touchdowns and ran for two in the Buckeyes victory.
Along with Kilgore, all three teams that represented District 16-3A are 9-0 in the playoffs with Henderson and Gilmer outscoring their opponents 161-69 and 150-70, respectively.
“That’s the funny thing about this situation,” Meeks said. “I really feel like we are playing well and when I started looking at (film) on Gilmer Sunday, I felt they have improved as much or more than we have. I think that both of these teams are playing at a high level right now.”
Gilmer is piloted by Barr, who is just as effective running the ball as he is passing. Barr enters Friday’s rematch completing 196 of 327 passes for 2,409 yards and 21 touchdowns with 13 interceptions. The dual threat also has carried the ball 109 times for 745 yards and four touchdowns,
Henderson changed its quarterback during its loss to Gilmer six weeks ago, moving Patrick Brown from receiver to under center in more of an read-option style offense along with tailback Diamante Wright while Janson Moore was available in passing situations.
The difference has been not as much balance, but more production as Wright (228-1,273, 16 TDs) and Brown (160-1,244, 19 TDs) are helping the Lions score nearly 10 more points per game. In the playoffs, the Lions are averaging 371 yards rushing per game and a whopping 53.6 points per contest.
“Offensively, we’ve been able to really run the ball well the last four or five weeks,” Meeks said. “As for Gilmer, they are a more balanced team than we are. We are hoping we can throw; we haven’t had to so far.
“Really, when you are this far into the playoffs, (the main objective) is you want to play next week. And it’s the same for them.”
Notes: Gilmer has won the last three meetings against Henderson with two of those by two points or less and leads the all-time series between the two teams 11-2-2. The Lions last win over the Buckeyes occurred in 1997. The teams did not play again until 2010.