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Lions gear up to face Rockwall-Heath in Texas Stadium

Hawks quite capable of lighting up the scoreboard
It’s been several weeks since the Lions had to go all-out in the second half considering they’ve enjoyed large leads recently, but Ennis will likely need to keep the pedal to the metal in week 13.
Ennis (11-1) is set to face the Rockwall-Heath Hawks (12-0) in the Region II semifinals on Friday at noon in Texas Stadium. The Hawks are ranked fifth in terms of area 4A offenses (435 yards per game) compared to sixth for the Lions (434), while the Ennis defense (294 yards allowed per game) is 17th with Heath’s defense checking in at 23rd (305).
Ennis is coming off a 48-21 win over Kilgore, while Heath defeated Dallas Hillcrest (58-21) for the second time this season. Heath scored 34 points in the second quarter against Hillcrest, which marked the fifth game in which the Hawks have scored at least 21 points in either the first or second quarter.
“Heath is definitely one of the best teams in the area,” said coach Sam Harrell.
“They play really well in the first half of their games to take control. Every team is good at this point and it’s just a matter of whether or not you’re good enough to stay in [the mix] with them.”
The Hawks’ strengths are run offense behind Kendial Lawrence and Everett Gilbert, along with run defense thanks to the standout linebacker trio of Austin Moss, Ryan Mosby and George Bamfo.
Through 12 games, only four teams (Sherman, Greenville, Carrollton Newman Smith, Frisco Centennial) managed to run for 100-plus yards against the Hawks. Three teams (Royse City, Richardson Pierce, Dallas Hillcrest) threw for 300-plus yards against Heath. Just two players have run for more than 100 yards against the Hawks, but seven receivers have cleared 100 yards against them.
Heath committed at least five penalties in all but one game this season and was flagged at least seven times in seven games. In five games, the Hawks either missed an extra point or had one blocked.
Another potential concern for the Hawks is that they’ve lost three of their last four turnover battles. Heath only won two turnover battles by more than one turnover the entire season, and both of those came in the first three weeks.

Hawks’ path to 12-0
In week one, the Hawks topped Sherman 43-27 and had their biggest margin of victory in the turnover battle (4-0) by far this season. Heath only needed 13 first downs to score 43 points as most of it came in a 26-point second quarter. Star running back Kendial Lawrence (16-196-4) got off to a great start and also returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown.
Receiver Matt Bielski (3-80-1) made the most of his chances. Right after Lawrence’s kick return, Sherman took a kick back 81 yards for a touchdown. Sherman running back Waymon James (180 total yards, 3 total touchdowns) had one of the best rushing performances against Heath to date.
In week two, Heath went up 24-0 to beat Arlington Seguin 24-8. Seguin won the turnover battle 1-0, but was held to 181 total yards, while the two teams combined for 282 penalty yards on 27 infractions. Lawrence (21-148-2) had a modest night by his lofty standards.
The Hawks faced Dallas Hillcrest for the first time in week three, emerging with a 35-17 win. Heath led 35-3 and did most of its damage in a 21-point second quarter as the defense limited Hillcrest to eight first downs and won the turnover battle 4-2. The trio of Lawrence (13-123-3), receiver/running back Everett Gilbert (144 total yards, touchdown) and Bielski (4-79-1) carried the load.
In week four, Heath found itself tied with Greenville before scoring the only 14 points of the fourth quarter to win 42-28. Greenville won the turnover battle 2-1 and produced the most rushing yards against Heath by far this season (260). Greenville receiver Dijuon Sheppard (5-107) made plays and quarterback Alton Dennis ran through the Heath defense for a huge night (25-221-3).
Lawrence (21-131-3) did his thing for Heath, while quarterback Drew Hollingshead had an excellent game (19-20-0, 261 yards, 2 touchdowns). Receivers Bielski (7-107-1) and Tyler Harding (4-56-1) were productive as well. Heath defensive back Darius Jones scored on a five-yard fumble return.
The Hawk offense rolled against Rockwall in week five with 528 total yards for a 38-21 win. Heath won the turnover battle 1-0 as Lawrence had one of his better games of the season (26-291-5). Gilbert rolled up 149 yards of offense on 15 touches. Rockwall receiver Will Beasley (4-102-1) made some plays against the Hawk secondary.
The Heath defense kept Carrollton Newman Smith in check in week six to win the turnover battle 1-0 and the game 27-3. Newman Smith actually had far more first downs (19-9), but the Hawks averaged 15.1 yards per carry.
Jones had another big play for the Hawks with a 90-yard kick return touchdown. Lawrence (10-144-1) actually wasn’t the top offensive player for Heath, as Gilbert exploded for 175 total yards and two scores on just six touches.
Just like their earlier game with Greenville, the Hawks were tied at 28-28 through three quarters against Royse City in week seven before they controlled the fourth quarter to win 42-28. Heath allowed 310 passing yards, but did win the turnover battle 1-0.
Lawrence (289 total yards, 4 total scores) made a couple of plays through the air for a change and Gilbert (15-108-2) excelled on the ground. Royse City quarterback Richard Morrison roasted the Hawk secondary (25-39-0, 310 yards, 3 scores), while receiver Justin Jacobs (10-170) shined as well.
Week eight brought an absolute shootout as Heath defeated Richardson Pierce 56-49 in overtime. The Hawks won the turnover battle 2-1 and piled up 665 yards of offense, but Pierce (687) actually finished with more thanks to a mind-boggling 603 yards through the air.
Lawrence (41-312-3), Gilbert (265 total yards, 3 scores) and Bielski (3-99-1) had some of their best respective games of the season. Pierce quarterback Caleb Lewis (25-38-1, 418 yards, 6 scores) was almost as great as top target Blake Jumonville (10-270-3), who destroyed Heath’s secondary.
In week nine, Heath scored 37 points in the first quarter against a horrendous Carrollton R.L. Turner team to win 53-0 with just nine first downs. Turner could only manage two first downs with 37 total yards.
Heath lost the turnover battle 1-0, but came away with two safeties and Gilbert returned a punt 62 yards for a touchdown. Lawrence certainly made the most of his limited action (7-112-4), while reserve runner Jesse Irokwe (12-69-1) made an appearance.
The regular-season finale was a memorable one as Heath beat Highland Park 38-31 in overtime to win the district title. The Hawks outgained the Scots 439-349 and won the turnover battle 1-0.
Lawrence carried the Hawks (39-365-5) more than he has all season, while Scot receiver Morgan Stringer (10-111) made plays. Highland Park could only manage 256 passing yards on 57 attempts.
“I think the win over Highland Park was a big positive for Heath because they realize they can beat good teams,” Harrell said.
“[Lawrence] rushed for 360 yards against [the Scots], so your chances of being successful are pretty good. They’ve been playing well all year.”
Heath had a cakewalk in bi-district as it took a 49-0 lead to win 49-14 over Frisco Centennial. Heath lost the turnover battle 2-1, but compiled 406 rushing yards.
Lawrence (14-241-5) and Irokwe (14-100) did most of the heavy lifting. While five of Heath’s scoring possessions took three or fewer plays, Centennial didn’t cross midfield until late in the third quarter.
The Hawks had one of their best offensive performances last week in a 58-21 rematch with Dallas Hillcrest. Heath piled up 626 yards of offense and scored 35 unanswered points, but lost the turnover battle 2-0. Lawrence (23-255-5) and Gilbert (284 total yards, two scores) ran roughshod through the Hillcrest defense.
It does bode well for Ennis that Hillcrest quarterback Jake Sherrington (21-37-0, 347 yards, 3 scores) lit up the Hawk secondary as he produced a pair of 100-yard receivers in Brice Johnson (8-148-2) and Michael Harrison (8-105-1).

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Posted by on Nov 26 2008. Filed under Editorials. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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