When: 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 24
Where: Round Rock ISD “The Palace Stadium”
Records: Hays 10-1; Leander 10-1
Last week: Hays 60, SA Highlands 7;
Leander 35, LBJ 13
Last meeting: Hays 28, Leander 20 (2001)
Leander offense: Spread
Leander defense: 3-4
Hays offense: Multiple
Hays defense: 3-4
What they’re saying: “Leander is a championship-caliber team, but we believe we are too. To be the best, you have to beat the best. We plan on coming out and playing our game Saturday,” Hays cornerback Christian Rodriguez.
Players to Watch:
Hays: QB Caleb Kimbro, WR Granger Studdard, RB Marco Solis, RB Beau Reed, OL/DL William Trevillion, OL Reed Darragh, slot receiver/RB Taven Mayberry, TE Banner Steele, DE Kyle Cox, LB Devin Jennings, CB Christian Rodriguez, CB Jared Rodriguez, LB Colin Hubert, DE Daniel Minor, LB Aaron Johnson, LB Brandon Poole.
Leander: QB Caleb Woodard, DB/WR Tevin Smith, RB Dylan Bauer, RB Darion McClatcher,
FS Taylor Sugar, LB Hayden Newsom, DE Michael Epley, LB Martin Nwakamma, DE Jacob Green.
Intangibles: The matchup Hays knew was likely coming in the second round of the playoffs is here. Although the Rebels didn’t know whether they would get Leander or Cedar Park, which ultimately went into the small-school Class 4A Division II playoffs, the Rebs knew the area round was where they were going to have to make their playoff statement this season. If Hays can beat Leander, which was ranked No. 1 in Class 4A for a long time this season in the Padilla Poll before falling 14-10 to district rival Cedar Park, the Rebels will have a solid chance to make the regional finals or perhaps advance even further. The Rebels were firing on all cylinders against overmatched Highlands, and played one of their best games of the season the previous week against Heights. Hays will have to be at its very best to beat Leander. Both teams have Caleb quarterbacks who will lead them into battle. Leander’s Caleb Woodward has 1,270 rushing yards and 475 passing yards. The Lions have only passed the ball 84 times out of its shotgun-spread offense, so the Hays defense must find a way to slow down Woodard and the Leander run game. Hays’ Caleb Kimbro has more than 6,000 total yards and 63 total touchdowns the past two seasons. He will lead a Rebel offense trying to play mistake-free football against Leander. Hays has shown they can do exactly that at times, and seeing a healthy Taven Mayberry have a combined 222 yards from scrimmage against Highlands was certainly a good sign. The call here is Hays will snag the biggest piece of the Thanksgiving wishbone and surprise the Central Texas high school football world on Saturday.
Hays Free Press prediction:
Hays 28, Leander 24