BEDFORD — Henderson coach Dickey Meeks doesn’t mind talking about a rematch with Chapel Hill. He just wants the conversation to occur next week.
“I’ve already been asked about that six or seven times this week,” laughed Meeks, who won a title at Chapel Hill in 1989 and beat the Bulldogs in the state final last season. “Call me Monday.”
Who could blame the guy? He still has another rematch for which to prepare.
For the second straight season, Henderson (11-2) meets sixth-ranked Alvarado (13-0) in the Class 3A Division I semifinals. The kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Friday at Pennington Field.
Henderson advanced to the first title game in program history with a 20-13 win against Alvarado last season. The winner will once again get either top-ranked Chapel Hill (13-0) or No. 7 West Columbia (13-0) in the final, scheduled for next Friday at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.
Henderson quarterback Del Barnes’ injury status is once again a focal point of the semifinals.
The standout missed all but three plays in last season’s game with a fractured wrist, but returned the next week to earn state final MVP. He then suffered an ankle injury in last week’s game, and is considered questionable for tonight.
“I think he will play,” Meeks said Wednesday. “Whether he is 100 percent or not, I can’t answer that. He had a limited workout today. I think they will prepare differently because of what happened last year.”
How could the Indians forget?
With Barnes sidelined and Henderson unable to generate much offense, Alvarado stormed into halftime up 13-0 and gripping its own destiny. However, Lions receiver LaMarcus Brown lined up behind center in the Wildcat formation and generated 20 unanswered points in the second half.
“I’m extremely proud of our kids,” Alvarado coach Jeff Dixon told the Fort Worth Star—Telegram after the game. “They have no reason to hang their heads. We did our best, we will be back.”
Yes, the Indians are.
You wouldn’t need to attend any practices to understand that Alvarado has prepared for two separate looks this week.
The first look features Barnes and his 2,753 yards and 33 touchdowns passing this season, not to mention a soaring ground game that went for more than 400 yards two weeks ago. The second look returns the offensive reins to Brown and makes the Lions a run-only team.
The Lions enter the night on the heels of consecutive routs against state-ranked teams, including a 56-20 blowout of No. 9 Lindale in the regional round and a 42-19 mauling of fifth-ranked Celina in the quarterfinals.
Ever since a two-game losing streak against Carthage and Gilmer that dropped Henderson from second to unranked in the Association Press poll, the Lions have outscored their four opponents a combined 201-72.
“If you look at the Gilmer game, we had the turnovers and things like that that we haven’t had in two years,” Meeks said. “Gilmer, number one they played good and I give them all the credit, but we turned the ball over seven times in one game and we hadn’t turned the ball over seven times all year. It was kind of like Halloween; it comes only once a year.
“I think our kids did feel (different) after that game. I do think they have a renewed vigor of wanting to play better. We didn’t change anything offensively or defensively or the way we practice or anything else.”
Alvarado, meanwhile, is unbeaten since the 2010 semifinals and hasn’t allowed any opponents to within 15 points since beating Waco Robinson, 42-27, in the season opener. The Indians eliminated Seminole, 42-7, in the quarterfinals.
Alvarado running back Wayne Onderdonck has carried the ball 293 times for 2,724 yards and 26 touchdowns this season.
Meeks doesn’t know whether revenge is the driving force, but he believes the Indians have been looking forward to this game for the past 12 months.
“I’ll say this because we’ve had about three or four games like this,” Meeks said. “I don’t know if you call it a revenge factor or what you do. I do know they’ve been pointing to it. And our kids know.”