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Van Vleck, Tidehaven renew rivalry under playoff lights

 

When it comes to Friday’s matchup with Van Vleck this Friday in Rosenberg, Tidehaven Head Football Coach David Lucio believes the pressure to win the game remains with the Leopards.

 “This is their greatest team since the early 80’s,” Lucio said. “We are in a rebuilding year this year and we are matching up with them in the third round of the playoffs. We are playing with a bunch of underclassmen and we have a couple of seniors sprinkled onto this team and don’t get me wrong, the seniors I have are pretty good. But we have players out there that still have three more years of varsity ball ahead of them.

“We are almost looking at this game as a step in a journey that goes beyond these years,” Lucio said. “This is a big year for Van Vleck. They will graduate a bunch of players on each side of the ball and for them to lose this game would be pretty devastating to them.”

That is not to say that Lucio is conceding Friday’s regional semi-final clash with Van Vleck. In fact, he believes his Tigers have a good chance at moving on this year. 

“We are a young team but we think we have a great shot at winning this week,” Lucio said. “Last year, we were in Van Vleck’s spot with a great senior class so every game was a big deal. We were not meant to go this deep but the reality is that we got it together so whether we are young or not, we are pretty good right now.”

Lucio knows Tidehaven has evolved offensively as the season went on and has definitely improved from 34-14 loss Oct. 12 to the Leopards. 

“In that game, we were down by a score with six minutes left in the game and we had the ball but Mr. (De’Mitri) Monroe made a great play on defense stripping the ball away from us and scoring,” Lucio said. “That allowed them to pull away from us with a few minutes left in the game.

“The score got out of hand when we had an incident on their sideline and we lost some players and they were able to score again before time ran out,” Lucio said. “It was actually a pretty close game.”

Lucio speaks of a late-game fight between the two squads that resulted in players being ejected from the contest. 

“The thing about it is that these two teams play hard,” Lucio said. “They get after it. They both play with this was the last play of their lives. We both play like that. When you play that hard, some other stuff will spill over.”

Lucio also believes that when it comes to adjustments, Van Vleck has more to do than the Tigers.

 “They probably have a little bit more on their hands than we do,” Lucio said. “We are a lot different team than we were the last time we played them. We just want to go over the last few games that they have played and see what they are doing differently and it doesn’t look like they are doing anything differently.”

Lucio knows Van Vleck has talent and it all starts with the seniors on the team. Those seniors have led Van Vleck to a sterling 11-1 overall record.

“They have a lot of seniors that are very talented and athletic,” Lucio said. “We just have to review our game plan from last time and see what we can do differently that will help us overcome them this time.”

He also knows that in stopping Van Vleck’s potent offense starts with trying to limit the impact of Monroe on the outcome of the game.

“You are not going to stop De’Mitri Monroe, all we can try to do is contain him,” Lucio said. “We want to make him work for any touchdown that he gets.”

Lucio also knows the Leopards’ defense is something to contend with as well.

“They have a great defense and they have one of the best defensive coordinators in this part of Texas and he has a bunch of athletes to work with this year,” Lucio said. “We have to find a way to move the ball on them and get some first downs. We have a plan and we have to go out there and execute it.”

But Lucio believes his Tigers are ready for this challenge that lies ahead of them. He knows his team has improved and is ready for this week’s contest. 

 “We are much improved so it is not that big of a deal to overcome that loss and get it done,” Lucio said. “Our pre-district schedule was tough and our district schedule was tougher than any of them in the region. It seems to be that way year in and year out. The fun thing about this year is that we just beat an 11-0 team with a fairly young team and I think in the next couple of years we are going to have some real fun in this regional tournament.”

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