Keller Fossil Ridge Panthers (0-0)

vs.

Tyler Lee Red Raiders (0-0)

7:30 p.m. Saturday
Rose Stadium, Tyler

Coaches
  • Fossil Ridge: Tony Baccarini
  • Tyler Lee: Darrell Piske

 

Next week
  • Fossil Ridge: at Mansfield Lake Ridge, Sept. 5
  • Tyler Lee: at Lufkin, Sept. 5

 

Playmakers

Fossil Ridge

  • DB Montrel Wilson, Sr., 6-3, 195 (116 tackles, 4 INTs; committed to Baylor)
  • LB Bryce Hines, Sr., 6-2, 220 (164 tackles, 8 sacks)
  • S Charlie Walker, Sr., 6-0, 190
  • RB Keshawn Mitchell, Sr., 5-10, 200 (710 rushing yards; 284 receiving yards, 12 total TDs)
  • C Michael Pena, Sr.
  • QB Bryce Baccarini, Jr., 6-2, 200
  • OL Dorian Atmore, Jr., 6-2, 251
  • WR Cameron Castleberry, Sr., 6-2, 165

 

Tyler Lee

  • LB Brandon Durman, Sr., 6-2, 230 (70 tackles, 15 for loss, committed to Louisiana Tech)
  • QB Zach Hall, Jr., 5-11, 170 (1,129 passing yards, 9 TDs)
  • RB Tavon Wesley, Jr., 6-1, 190 (718 rushing yards, 9 TDs)
  • OL Matthew Weeks, Sr., 6-6, 275
  • OL Justin Willoughby, Sr., 6-3, 285
  • WR/S Isjuwan Barker, Jr., 6-1, 195
  • S Patrick Udophia, Sr., 5-10, 165
  • C Bryston Parker, Sr., 6-1, 250

 

Just the facts
  • This is the first-ever meeting between Keller Fossil Ridge and Tyler Lee.
  • Fossil RIdge and Lee have a combined enrollment of 4,798.5, and if the schools were consolidated, it would rank fifth in Texas -- 1,188.5 behind the largest school, Alllen.
  • Fossil RIdge is 3-7 in season openers since 2004. It lost six consecutive from 2007-12.
  • Fossil Ridge coach Tony Baccarini was the head coach at Brownsboro from 1998-2003.
  • The Panthers bring back eight offensive and four defensive starters from last season's 9-4 Class 5A Division II regional semifinalist.
  • Since 2000, Tyler Lee is 8-6 in season openers. It has lost five of its last six.
  • Since longtime head coach Mike Owens' departure, Lee is 6-24. Under Owens (1996-2010), the Red Raiders amassed a record of 111-69.
  • Tyler Lee returns six offensive and six defensive starters from last season's 4-6 team.

 

Tyler Lee QB Zach Hall. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Tyler Lee passing offense vs. Fossil Ridge defensive secondary. While the Red Raiders would like to latch onto the identity that made them a successful offense in 2013, there will come a time when Lee opts to strike through the air. Most of Lee's passing plays will be short hitch-routes or screen passes to receivers or running backs, but Lee junior quarterback Zach Hall looks poised to elevate the Red Raiders' attack into one that's not afraid to take shots down the field. Most of the time last season, the majority of Lee's called passing plays involved rolling Hall out to either the left or right, which gave the speedy quarterback the option to tuck the ball and run if nothing materialized upfield. And while the Red Raiders figure to do plenty of that this fall, it would not be surprising to see Lee expand its attack vertically.

In an effort to deepen a receiving corps that saw heavy losses to graduation, third-year coach Darrell Piske moved a couple of his starting defensive backs over to offense. Junior Isjuwan Barker will now be a primary weapon in the passing game, a player Hall may go to often on third-and-short situations, when Lee needs completions. Jordan Devers is another former defensive back, but he represents the potential explosiveness out of the pass-catching group. Both players caught touchdown passes during Lee's scrimmage against Marshall last week, and it may only be a matter of time before the combination of Hall, Barker and Devers develops into a dangerous weapons package on offense.

Tyler Lee WR/S Isjuwan Barker. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

The Lee receivers may have their hands full with a Fossil Ridge secondary that boasts two standout performers. Senior defensive back Montrel Wilson is a big and physical safety-type committed to Baylor, while senior Charlie Walker does a solid job of patrolling the open field and shutting down big plays before they become touchdowns.

Don't be surprised if: We see a ton of points scored in this one. Both Fossil Ridge and Lee bring back several key contributors from offenses that were supremely explosive. The Panthers, armed with eight returning starters on offense, averaged 37.2 points per game in 2013. Lee, despite relying on several underclassmen a season ago, put up 28.6 points per game on average. Also playing into this projection are the two defenses. While Fossil Ridge was fairly proficient defensively last year, there are only four starters back from that unit. Lee, on the other hand, has six defensive starters returning, but the Red Raiders allowed far too many big plays to opponents. Lee allowed a shaky 39.1 points per game in 2013, which included five games in which the Red Raiders surrendered 40 or more. It's been said that offenses are typically ahead of defenses early in seasons, and that could especially be true Saturday as both Fossil Ridge and Lee will be breaking in several new starters.