Historic Programs Collide When John Tyler Faces Defending Champ Aledo In State Semifinals
CLASS 5A DIVISION I
No. 1 Aledo Bearcats (13-1)
No. 9 John Tyler Lions (12-2)
2 p.m. Saturday
E.H. Hanby Stadium, Mesquite
- Aledo: Steve Wood
- John Tyler: Ricklan Holmes
Road to semifinals
- Bi-district: def. Fort Worth Trimble Tech, 69-0
- Area: def. Denton, 49-17
- Region I semifinal: def. El Paso Del Valle, 37-21
- Region I final: def. Canyon Randall, 47-29
- Bi-district: def. Texas High, 58-23
- Area: def. Mansfield Summit, 44-27
- Region II semifinal: def. Rockwall-Heath, 49-21
- Region II final: def. McKinney North, 64-40
- Winner faces winner between Temple and Austin Vandergrift, 5A Division I state championship game, noon Saturday (Dec. 20), AT&T Stadium in Arlington
- WR Ryan Newsome, Sr., 5-8, 168 (51 catches, 1,053 yards, 12 TDs; 47 carries, 408 yards, 6 TDs)
- DB Johnathan Durham, Sr., 6-0, 180 (committed to Texas State)
- RB Jess Anders, Sr., 5-9, 175 (113 carries, 802 yards, 15 TDs; 5 catches, 105 yards, 2 TDs; committed to UTSA)
- QB Luke Bishop, Sr., 5-10, 170 (2,485 yards, 30 TDs, 4 INTs; 99 carries, 699 yards, 8 TDs)
- RB Isaiah Mallory, Sr., 5-8, 170 (121 carries, 1,141 yards, 15 TDs; 2 catches, 32 yards, TD)
- DB Patrick Peek, Jr., 5-10, 180
- WR Toby Gray, Sr., 6-3, 200 (33 catches, 739 yards, 10 TDs)
- CB Isaac Warren, Sr., 6-1, 190 (59 tackles, INT, fumble recovery, blocked kick; committed to Purdue)
- DT Braylon Jones, Jr., 6-4, 295 (88 tackles, 13 for loss, 7 sacks, 2 QB pressures)
- QB Geovari McCollister, Sr., 6-3, 215 (201 of 310, 3,137 yards, 29 TDs, 5 INTs; 140 carries, 568 yards, 7 TDs; committed to Central Arkansas)
- RB Jeremy Wilson, Sr., 5-6, 160 (219 carries, 1,752 yards, 26 TDs; 33 catches, 348 yards, 3 TDs)
- WR Damion Miller, Soph., 6-2, 185 (23 catches, 567 yards, 8 TDs)
- WR Nick Cain, Sr., 5-11, 175 (48 catches, 698 yards, 6 TDs; 21 carries, 180 yards, 4 TDs; committed to ULM)
- WR Rodney Bendy, Sr., 6-5, 200 (27 catches, 457 yards, 6 TDs; committed to North Texas)
- FS Jordan Owens, Sr., 6-0, 165 (60 tackles, 8 INTs, 2 PBUs, 2 fumble recoveries)
- WR Duntayviun Gross, Jr., 5-9, 160 (45 catches, 639 yards, 6 TDs)
- DT Pierre Leonard, Jr., 5-10, 235 (91 tackles, 27 for loss, 12 sacks, 6 QB pressures, forced fumble, recovery, blocked kick)
- SS Bryston Gipson, Jr., 6-0, 180 (71 tackles, 3 for loss, sack, 2 INTs, PBU, 6 fumble recoveries, 2 blocked kicks)
- LB Jaylon Reese, Sr., 6-1, 225 (103 tackles, INT, forced fumble)
Just the facts
- This is the first-ever meeting between Aledo and John Tyler.
- Since 2009, Aledo and John Tyler have been two of the winningest programs in the state. Aledo is 84-6, while John Tyler is 67-16 over that time span.
- Aledo has won 27 consecutive games against teams from the state of Texas. Its only loss in the last two seasons came to Bishop Amat (La Puente, Calif.), 42-7, on Sept. 5 of this year.
- Aledo's average margin of victory this season is 37 points. Last season, the Bearcats outscored opponents by an average of 55.2 points.
- For the season, Aledo is averaging 48.4 points and 452.5 yards per game -- 265.7 rushing and 186.8 passing.
- Aledo's defense allows 16.5 points and 272.2 yards per game -- 141.6 rushing and 130.6 passing.
- The cumulative record of Aledo's opponents this season is 92-64 (.590).
- John Tyler is playing in its seventh semifinal since Tyler ISD opened a second high school in 1958. The Lions are 3-3 in semifinals over that span.
- During the playoffs, John Tyler is averaging 53.8 points and 559.8 yards per game. Its closest postseason game was decided by 17 points -- a 44-27 win over Mansfield Summit in the area around.
- For the season, John Tyler is averaging 45.5 points and 434.6 yards per game -- 200.0 rushing and 234.6. passing.
- John Tyler's defense allows 20.9 points and 313.8 yards per game -- 175.2 rushing and 138.6 passing.
- The cumulative record of John Tyler's opponents this season is 96-64 (.600).
Key matchup: John Tyler rushing attack vs. Aledo defensive front. John Tyler's passing game is already potent enough with quarterback Geovari McCollister pulling the trigger, and a five-deep receiving corps making the plays. The last thing Aledo needs is a Lions running game clicking on all cylinders Saturday afternoon. When John Tyler has both elements of its offense rolling, the Lions are something to behold. In last week's quarterfinal victory over McKinney North, JT did just about whatever it wanted on offense, posting a season-high 726 yards -- 377 rushing and 349 passing. Senior running back Jeremy Wilson has carried the load in the backfield all season long with more than 1,700 yards and 26 touchdowns coming into this weekend's semifinal. He'll likely need two more games, but Wilson is nipping at the heels of the school's 41-year old single-season rushing record held by the "Tyler Rose" himself, Earl Campbell. Wilson is certainly not the biggest of running backs, but what he lacks in size, he makes up for in just about every way imaginable. Wilson possess rare speed, posting a verified laser-timed 4.41 40-yard dash at June's ETSN.fm + APEC Football Recruiting Combine. Aside from blinding speed, Wilson features great vision and is stronger than his frame suggests. At the same combine, he put up 10 reps on the bench press at 205 pounds, and showed great lower-body explosion on the Keiser squat. It's those attributes that allowed him to carry the ball a season-high 29 times for a career-best 231 yards and three touchdowns in last weeek's victory; Wilson had 188 of those yards by halftime.
John Tyler's offense might be too talented to completely hold down, but if Aledo can take away either the run or the pass, the Bearcats greatly improve their chances of winning. Wilson and McCollister are responsible for the bulk of John Tyler's rushing offense, accounting for 83 percent of the team's rushing yardage and 33 of the Lions' 42 rushing touchdowns. A defense only has to prepare for two options in JT's running game, while the passing attack is a different story. The Lions mostly line in up four-receivers sets out of the spread formation, and there are five targets McCollister is comfortable going to at any time. Senior Nick Cain, a ULM commit, leads the team in receptions and yards, just ahead of junior Duntayviun Gross. Senior Rodney Bendy is a 6-5 wideout committed to North Texas, sophomore Damion Miller has been the Lions' most productive receiver during the playoffs and leads the team in touchdown catches, and Bryson Smith is an elite athlete who will take over starting quarterback duties next fall. If Aledo wants to take away one thing from John Tyler's offense, the running game figures to be less of a challenge.
Don't be surprised if: John Tyler gets off to a quick start once again. It's been the Lions' calling card in the playoffs up to this point, and Aledo had its struggles in the first half of last week's game. In the Lions' 49-21 win over Rockwall-Heath two weeks ago in the regional semifinals, John Tyler scored the game's first 21 points and never looked back. In much the same fashion, the Lions built an 20-0 first-quarter lead the following week against McKinney North. Playing with a big lead at this point in the playoffs can be crucial, as the opponent is forced to make quick in-game adjustments or be confronted with elimination. Aledo went in the locker room trailing Canyon Randall, 21-13, at halftime a week ago. But the Bearcats ended up scoring the game's next 34 points to pull away for the comfortable win. Aledo may not be as fortunate this time around, against an opponent in John Tyler that has been riding the wave of momentum that have come from big first-half performances. Neither John Tyler or Aledo have played in too many closely-contested games this year, so it would be interesting to see how each team would respond to a tight game in the later stages. The Lions have not been tested since a three-point loss on the road at Ennis, which is through to the 5A Division II semifinals, way back on Oct. 17. The last time Aledo was pushed into the fourth quarter was its 21-17 season-opening win over Cedar Park, which is also participating in the 5A D-II semis this weekend.