Clayton George Has Tyler Lee Heading Into Week 3 on a 2-0 Roll
Clayton George has two state championship rings and spent a large chunk of his career at one of the best high school football programs in Texas history, so he knows what it's like to win.
When he left his offensive coordinator job at perennial power Southlake Carroll in January, he walked into a job at Tyler Lee knowing he was at a school that remembers what it's like to win district championships, playoff games and not too long ago, a state title.
"I grew up in Athens, so I always kept up with Tyler Lee and all the great football played out here in East Texas," George said. "I was in a great situation at Southlake Carroll, but when this opportunity came up, I couldn't pass it up."
George took over a program that hasn't had a winning season since 2008 and was 18-44 since 2010. It was a complete turnaround from the years before -- of the 15 seasons when Mike Owens coached Tyler Lee, the Red Raiders had just four losing seasons.
Re-instilling the winning mindset was George's priority from the first day he walked into the Tyler Lee field house, he said.
"I was fortunate enough to bring four guys total with me from Southlake Carroll, and three of those won a lot of games and championships together. We have a great trust amongst one another," George said. "We brought our same belief systems, so we started out here with creating a new culture and developing trust between our players and coaches. We've felt like we've been able to establish that here, and we know it's still a work in progress."
It's apparent that it's worked so far. Tyler Lee is 2-0 heading into Friday's game against Nacogdoches, coming off a 34-20 win last Friday against Corsicana and a 34-7 win over Marshall in the season opener.
"We're feeling good. We know we have a lot of room to improve obviously, but we're always excited when we come out on top on Friday night," George said. "We try to go out and win every day. If you can win Monday through Thursday, good things usually happen on Friday."
Tyler Lee has used a combination of big performances on offense and a much improved defense to get to its 2-0 start, something the Red Raiders haven't done since 2013.
Quarterback Chance Amie has accounted for 492 total yards of offense and seven touchdowns through Tyler Lee's first two games. He has 245 yards four touchdowns on the ground and has thrown for 247 yards and three scores. Three days after receiving a scholarship offer from Bowling Green, Amie had a hand in all five of Tyler Lee's touchdowns against Corsicana.
"It's exciting to have someone like Chance in your program. He's a dual threat quarterback who has good size, good feet and a good arm," George said. "I've been pleased with his grasping of the offense and execution thus far."
As impressive as the Red Raiders have been on offense, the real change has been on the defensive side of the ball. Tyler Lee has held an opposing team to 20 points or less just three times since 2012, but the Red Raiders have already done it twice in 2016.
"The thing I've been impressed with the most is our mental and physical toughness so far," George said. "Last week we lost some kids at different times of the game and needed some guys to step up and make plays, and they did."
Tyler Lee goes into Friday's game against Nacogdoches already in a good spot, but it doesn't get any easier from here. The Dragons are loaded with athletes and are looking for redemption after a 42-28 loss to arch-rival Lufkin last Friday.
"We'll have our hands full, for sure," George said. "We just have to focus on controlling what we can control, and that's dedication and trust to each other, and working hard to win. We're looking forward to getting out there and competing on Friday night."