Games of the Year, No. 25: Annual Tyler Lee-John Tyler Meeting Features First-Year Coaches
It may not be the East Texas’ oldest rivalry -- that distinction belongs to Longview vs. Marshall. But John Tyler vs. Tyler Lee certainly carries the distinction of being among the most unique.
Tyler Independent School District is the only ISD in the area with two high schools.
The crosstown grudge match began when Robert E. Lee High School opened in 1958. Ever since, the two have shared the same stadium, and from 1960-2009, Lee and John Tyler occupied the same district. But with the Lions’ drop to Class 4A prior to the 2010 season, the last two encounters have occurred within each team’s non-district schedule.
The Lions hold a 29-26-1 all-time series lead on Lee, but the Red Raiders have closed the gap of late by winning 13 of the last 15 matchups, including eight in a row from 1999-2004 (that includes two years that Lee, JT, Longview and Lufkin played round-robin home-and-homes during the district schedule).
Last season’s outcome of the Rose City Rivalry may go down as one of the most interesting in the series’ history. Lee defeated John Tyler 39-30, accounting for the Red Raiders’ only win of the season. For JT, the setback spelled an 0-3 start to the season, but after that the Lions reeled off 11 consecutive wins to reach the 4A Division I state semifinals.
This year’s meeting on Sept. 14 will feature two first-year head coaches in JT’s Ricklan Holmes and Lee’s Darrell Piske. The Lions will enter as prohibitive favorites, but as the previous encounter suggests, anything is possible.