TYLER -- John Tyler held its first official workout of the 2013 season Monday evening without most of the standouts responsible for the Lions' 13-2 run to last year's Class 4A Division I state semifinals.

But instead of spending the first day searching for a new group of playmakers, second-year coach Ricklan Holmes was talking championships and the means to acquire them.

"Disciplined teams beat athletic teams every day," Holmes said after Monday's practice. "It's the disciplined teams and the athletic teams as a combination that are unstoppable. If you look at the Katys, if you look at the Allens, they may have two or three really good players on their team. But you see them doing what? Winning state titles and contending for state titles. Now you look at a John Tyler and you look at a DeSoto … hands down, man-for-man, we've got way more athletes than those teams. We've got way more superstars and (big-time recruits) than those teams. But how many state championships do we have over Katy?"

John Tyler players work on punt returns and coverage during the Lions' first practice Monday evening in Tyler. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Holmes said the first day was all about acclimating to the heat and making sure some of the mistakes made during the spring didn't re-occur.

"Today, I wanted to see a reaction to the sun and the heat," he said. "I think we continued to do everything we did right in the spring. We made a couple of corrections this summer. Some of the stuff we did in the spring we didn't do today. So that's a good sign. I saw a lot of good things, I saw a couple of bad things. But they were very correctible and we'll get them out of the way before that first scrimmage and that first game."

John Tyler graduated a ton of stars on both sides of the ball over the offseason, including 4,000-yard passer Greg Ward (Houston), 1,000-yard receiver Fred Ross (Mississippi State) and Tyus Bowser (Houston), whose 24-sack 2012 earned the defensive end ETSN.fm Super Team Defensive Player of the Year honors.

But Holmes believes the changing of the guard took place during spring practice, and new leaders have already emerged.

John Tyler players go through conditioning at the end of the Lions' first practice Monday evening in Tyler. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

"It started in the spring when those guys knew when (Greg Ward, Fred Ross, Darion Flowers, Tyus Bowser) graduated, there were going to have to be some guys that would have to step up," Holmes said. "Not all of them are seniors. Some of them are juniors like (receivers) Rodney Bendy and Nick Cain that are stepping up. (Quarterback Geo McCollister) really has no choice but to step up. Being the quarterback, you're at the head of the table."

Holmes said McCollister is getting better every day.

"You start with Geo McCollister; his mechanics are getting to where they need to be at quarterback," he said. "Right now we've just got to get him to where he's consistent in doing everything he does, and not do it in spurts."

Several other newcomers caught Holmes' attention on the first day of practice, including sophomore offensive/defensive lineman Braylon Jones.

"You'll probably see him on offense too, but he's going to be a dominant force up front (on defense) with Tra Moore," Holmes said. "Then you talk about the secondary where (Isaac Warren) didn't play a lot last year, but he's going to be a starter this year. And we've got a guy coming back to us -- Jordan Caldwell. He was a guy that came and played with us his freshman and sophomore year, got hurt in the spring of his sophomore year and didn't play his junior year. He decided to come back his senior year. He's a great kid, you know about him in basketball. But we're looking for him to help us out too."

Holmes said the rest of the week will be dedicated to "getting better every day" and finding more depth at the varsity level. But the coach also pointed out that this year's group has been at it a while.

"It never really stops," he said. "Once you go through spring ball, then you've got 7-on-7 and you've got summer conditioning. For us here at John Tyler, it's a 365-day-a-year deal. We've steady been on the grind, making sure we do everything we need to do to stay in shape, stay crisp and stay on top of our game."

John Tyler scrimmages Longview at Rose Stadium in Tyler on Aug. 23 before opening the season at Lufkin on Aug. 30.

John Tyler coach Ricklan Holmes looks on during the Lions' first practice Monday evening in Tyler. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)