DISTRICT 11-6A

Mesquite Skeeters (2-3, 0-2)

vs.

John Tyler Lions (4-1, 1-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday
CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium, Tyler

Coaches

  • Mesquite: Robbie Robinson
  • John Tyler: Ricklan Holmes
Last week

Next week
  • Mesquite: Idle
  • John Tyler: Idle
Playmakers

Mesquite

  • QB Jonathan Garza, Jr., 5-8, 170 (54-of-93 passing, 775 yards, 9 TDs, 4 INTs, 45 carries, 211 yards, 3 TDs)
  • DB Chris Crosby, Sr., 5-10, 165 (14 tackles, 2 INTs)
  • LB Robert Presley, Sr., 5-8, 185 (40 tackles in first three games)
  • RB Lazarus "Chance" Fisher, Sr., 5-11, 180 (97 carries, 765 yards, 5 TDs, 19 catches, 328 yards, 3 TDs)

John Tyler

  • QB Bryson Smith, Sr., 6-0, 170 (76-of-131 passing, 1,329 yards, 15 TDs, 2 INTs, 67 carries, 598 yards, 7 TDs; committed to Houston)
  • WR Damion Miller, Sr., 6-2, 195 (13 catches, 380 yards, 4 TDs; committed to Texas)
  • DE Dekalen Goodson, Jr., 6-3, 205 (32 tackles, 8 sacks, 2 QB pressures, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovery, 1 PBU)
  • CB Javonta Mosley, Sr., 6-2, 170 (23 tackles, 2 forced fumbles; committed to UTSA)
  • DE Howard Hawkins, Sr., 6-0, 266 (38 tackles, 15 for loss, 5 sacks, 9 QB pressures)
  • RB Justin Samples, Jr., 6-2, 205 (79 carries, 357 yards, 5 TDs)
  • LB Tre Allison, Jr., 6-2, 205 (51 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 1 INT, 3 PBUs)
  • WR Michael Givens-Washington, Jr., 5-7, 165 (22 catches, 392 yards, 4 TDs)
Just the facts
  • District outcomes have worked out favorably for John Tyler since it dropped its District 11-6A opener to Rockwall two weeks ago.
  • Only Longview and Rockwall-Heath remain undefeated in the league, and the Lions will face them in back-to-back games immediately after an upcoming open date Oct. 7.
  • Mesquite desperately needs to win the game to remain in realistic contention for a playoff spot. It is 0-2 in the district after losses to North Mesquite and Mesquite Horn.
  • John Tyler and Mesquite share one common opponent thus far in North Mesquite.
  • North Mesquite, in a shared stadium with the Skeeters, defeated Mesquite 28-25 two weeks ago.
  • The Lions hammered North Mesquite last week, 42-14, in Mesquite.
  • John Tyler currently has five NCAA Division I FBS prospects on its team. In addition to seniors Bryson Smith, Damion Miller and Javanta Mosley committed to various in-state schools, junior defensive end Dekalen Goodson and junior linebacker Tre Allison are being recruited by Mississippi State.
  • The Lions and Mesquite most recently met in 2009, which was the last time John Tyler was a Class 6A school prior to this season. John Tyler won that game, 52-17.
  • Mesquite will travel 84 miles to Rose Stadium in Tyler.
John Tyler's Howard Hawkins (53) sacks Plano West quarterback Tanner Gillean during their game Aug. 27 in Tyler.

Key matchup: John Tyler's defensive line and linebackers versus Mesquite's collective offense.

Mesquite is a well-balanced team. It has 1,123 yards rushing yards and 882 passing yards through five games toward a 2-3 overall record.

Quarterback Jonathan Garza and running back Lazarus Fisher are the most important Mesquite players.

Fisher has 774 rushing yards while Gaza has carried for 211 yards in addition to about 800 passing yards at a 58 percent completion rate. Combined, they will most likely roll past the 1,000-yard mark Friday on the ground. They need 15 yards.

Getting those yards might be a physical experience for the Mesquite duo, however.

This is a particularly big game for Dekalen Goodson, a Mississippi State target as a junior, and fellow senior defensive end Howard Hawkins. If they consistently collapse inside running lanes against Mesquite's offensive line along with the tackles and interior linebackers, they're going to force the opposing offense to run outside or abandon the run and become a more predictable offense.

Why would coercing Mesquite to run outside be a win for John Tyler? Two reasons.

One, Mesquite's ball carriers would have sacrifice yardage up the field in favor of running around the first line of the Lions' defense, which isn't particularly efficient.

Two, John Tyler boasts an athletic set of linebackers headlined by Tre Allison, another Mississippi State target as a junior. Simply running away from clogged lanes does not mean Mesquite will automatically get yardage once its runners work their way to the sides of the field against crashing down back layers of the defense.

If the Lions consistently collapse the inside of the field and the back layers do their jobs stopping the run at the edges of the field, Mesquite will have no choice but to throw against a secondary that is especially strong at the two cornerback positions.

John Tyler, all the while, has an offense averaging 43.2 points per game.

 

Don't be surprised if: John Tyler enters the game with noticeable energy.

Mesquite is a team already in some trouble with contests against the most impressive teams early in District 11-6A competition still to come. It must win this game to give itself a chance down the stretch, so the Lions ought to be wary they're facing a desperate team.

John Tyler has a lot to gain from a win as well. It can set itself up with a 2-1 district record ahead of playing Longview and Rockwall-Heath down the stretch.

Longview and Rockwall-Heath are the only teams still undefeated within the league.

As long as the Lions don't pick up any more losses, they are in good position to win a majority share of the district crown with wins against Longview and Rockwall-Heath in the subsequent weeks.

Head-to-head wins against those teams -- plus a Rockwall loss to any team left on its five-game schedule -- and no more regular season losses would give John Tyler all the district tiebreakers needed to set up a favorable road into the playoffs.

John Tyler cornerback Javonta Mosley, a senior UTSA commitment, headlines the Lions' secondary. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)