Go play the game.
That’s the message, plain and simple, that Longview head coach John King had for his team throughout Christmas week as the Lobos prepared for their showdown with top-ranked Denton Ryan in the third round of the playoffs.
“We’ve worked on getting better as a team and we know that will translate to the field,” tight end Justin Beltran said. “Denton Ryan, we know they’re great competition, so we’ve got to go out there and give it our all.”
Ryan is loaded with talent and has steamrolled its way to this point in the season, a year after falling short in the state championship game. Longview has found its identity throughout the season and it’s been vintage Lobo football with a physical ground game and an even-more physical defense.
Those two things collide on Saturday in Mesquite.
“Those things don’t faze us,” defensive lineman Jahkamian Carr said. “Coach King always says those rankings and predictions are for the people away from here. We’re focused on what’s happening right here with this team.
“We know they’re a good team, no doubt, but we are too. We’ve had to prove it to people all year so we’ve just got to go play our game.”
Here’s a look at the Class 5A, Division I, Region II semifinal between the Lobos and Raiders:
NO. 1 DENTON RYAN VS. NO. 8 LONGVIEW
When/Where: 2 p.m., Saturday, Memorial Stadium, Mesquite
Denton Ryan: Dave Henigan (7 seasons, 86-10)
Longview: John King (17th season, 188-39)
On the air: Radio: 106.5 FM; TV: KTPN (51.2 or 36.9 on digital antenna); Stream: Texan Live
Last week: Denton Ryan 52, College Station 21; Longview 56, Lancaster 20
Up next: Winner will meet Highland Park (W over Frisco Lone Star, 30-20) in the Region II final at 3:15 p.m., Friday, Jan. 1, 2021 at Globe Life Park in Arlington
WHEN DENTON RYAN HAS THE BALL
Ryan: OL Henry Appleton (6-3, 260) ... OL Riley Hampton (6-5, 265) ... WR Ja’Tavion Sanders (43 catches, 874 yards, 13 TDs) ... WR Billy Bowman (53 catches, 810 yards, 12 TDs; 160 rushing yards, 4 TDs) ... WR Jordyn Bailey (29 catches, 467 yards, 6 TDs) ... QB Seth Henigan (163-237-5, 2,807 yards, 36 TDs; 221 rushing yards, 2 TDs) ... RB Ke’Ori Hicks (91 carries, 750 yards, 7 TDs) ... RB Kalib Hicks (63 carries, 545 yards, 5 TDs)
Longview: DL Jahkamian Carr (62 tackles, 13 TFL, 8 sacks, 4 PBU, 2 FR, FF) ... DL Trevor Tamplin (57 tackles, 10 TFL, 6 sacks, FF, FR) ... DL Joe Jones (5 TFL) ... DL Arthur Bryant (5 TFL, 3 sacks) ... OLB Kybrien Jackson-Jamerson (49 tackles, 11 TFL, 3 sacks, 5 FR, 2 FFF, 3 PBU) ... LB Laqualon Hale (77 tackles, 8 TFL, 2 sacks, FF) ... LB Devean Isaac (58 tackles, 12 TFL, 6 sacks, FF, 2 PBU) ... S Tyree Hale (51 tackles, 4 INTs, 3 PBU) ... DB Dylan Davis (12 PBU, 3 INTs) ... DB Jacobi Williams (TFL, FF, 3 FR, 4 PBU, INT)
WHEN LONGVIEW HAS THE BALL
Ryan: DL Keithan ‘Bear’ Alexander (6-4, 230) ... DL Ja’Tavion Sanders (6-5, 220) ... DL Mason Davis (6-2, 260) ... LB Anthony Hill (6-2, 220) ... LB DJ Arkansas (6-2, 200) ... S Ty Marsh (6-0, 180) ... DB Billy Bowman Jr.
Longview: OL De’Qualin Vaughn ... OL Tavion Sterling ... OL Connor Cox ... OL Jatavian Bush ... OL Jax Norman ... TE Austin Pencheon ... TE Justin Beltran ... RB Kaden Meredith (179 carries, 1,367 yards, 26 TDs; TD catch) ... RB/FB Markevion Haynes (125 carries, 1,177 yards, 13 TDs; 137 receiving yards, TD) ... WR Jalen Hale (37 catches, 652 yards, 10 TDs) ... QB Jordan Allen (58-110-3, 874 yards, 10 TDs) ... P/K Spencer Powell ... P/K Antonio Onofre
Denton Ryan comes into round three perfect on the season and that’s what it will take for the Lobos to move on to the next round: A near-perfect execution on the field.
The Raiders are loaded with next-level talent, led by Sanders, a 5-start Texas signee, and Bowman, a 4-star Oklahoma signee. The list continues for the Raiders on both sides of the ball, including Alexander, a 4-star Dallas Skyline transfer.
For the Lobos, it’ll be about a total-teal effort. Defensively, that has started up front with the line of Carr, Tamplin, Jones and Bryant. Offensively, the Lobos need to establish the ground game and must sustain some longer drives to keep the Raiders at bay.
Expect a lot of smoke and mirrors. Ryan will operate a number of looks from its offensive personnel and the same goes for the Lobo defense. It’ll simply be a chess match.
DID YOU KNOW?
Ryan averages 49.1 points and 526.7 yards (233.1 rushing/293.6 passing) per game and allows an average of 15.6 points per game ... Longview averages 43.5 points and 389.1 yards (278.5 rushing/110.6 passing per game and allows an average of 19.2 points and 245.5 yards (76.9 rushing/168.6 passing) per game ... Longview has held its last five opponents to under 50 rushing yards and has seven games with opponents under 100 yards on the ground. Opponents average 2.8 yards per carry ... Meredith is one touchdown away from tying Jessie Anderson’s single-season record of 28 scores (2018). Meredith enters with 3,658 rushing yards and 60 total touchdowns in his career ... Sophomore receiver Jalen Hale picked up offers from Texas and Georgia this week, giving him eight total offers ... Longview last beat a No. 1 team in 2009, a 28-25 win over Allen at Lobo Stadium