John Tyler Eyes 4-0 Mark in 16-4A, But Nacogdoches Seeks to Rebound From First District Loss
Nacogdoches Dragons (6-2, 2-1)
John Tyler Lions (6-2, 3-0)
7:30 p.m. Friday
TMF Rose Stadium, Tyler
- Nacogdoches: Bobby Reyes
- John Tyler: Ricklan Holmes
- Nacogdoches: vs. Lindale
- John Tyler: at Whitehouse
- QB Bryce Matthews, Jr. (37 of 57, 488 yards, 5 TDs, 0 INTs; 77 carries, 426 yards, 7 TDs)
- LB Brian Scott, Sr., 6-0, 205 (99 tackles, 4 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, 5 PBUs, 1 def. TD)
- DB Brandon Jones, Soph., 6-0, 185 (67 tackles, 3 INTs, 1 def. TD)
- WR Sam Morgan, Jr. (35 catches, 405 yards, 7 TDs)
- WR L.J. Barnes, Sr., 5-11, 165 (26 catches, 418 yards)
- RB Coronado Tolbert, Jr. (147 carries, 688 yards, 1 TD)
- C Jacob Bragg, Sr., 6-4, 311 (committed to Kansas)
- DE Jacorey Whitaker, Sr. (55 tackles, 18 for loss, 9 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 13 QB pressures)
- DT Jadarius Ervin, Sr. (60 tackles, 16 for loss, 4 sacks, 1 INT, 1 fumble recovery)
- DE Greg Roberts, Sr., 6-5, 200 (committed to Baylor; 21 tackles, 6 for loss, 2 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 10 QB pressures)
- LB Jessie Graham, Sr. (58 tackles, 4 for loss)
- WR Reed Watson, Sr. (20 catches, 362 yards, 3 TDs)
- QB Geovari McCollister, Jr., 6-2, 200 (122 of 185, 1,972 yards, 17 TDs, 5 INTs; 130 carries, 710 yards, 5 TDs)
- WR Nick Cain, Jr., 5-9, 165 (33 catches, 609 yards, 5 TDs; 15 carries, 162 yards, 3 TDs)
- RB Reggie Gipson, Sr., 5-9, 175 (86 carries, 384 yards, 12 TDs; 24 catches, 405 yards, 5 TDs)
- WR Duntavion Gross, Soph., 5-8, 150 (33 catches, 415 yards, 2 TDs)
- ATH Jeremy Wilson, Jr., 5-7, 170 (16 carries, 200 yards, 4 TDs; 15 catches, 305 yards, 2 TDs)
- S Terry Ausborne, Sr., 5-11, 165 (65 tackles, 4 INTs)
- CB Isaac Warren, Jr., 6-0, 165 (22 tackles, 1 forced fumble)
- DT Braylon Jones, Soph., 6-2, 270 (47 tackles, 7 for loss, 1 fumble recovery)
- DE Darius Amie, Sr., 6-1, 220 (34 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery)
- DE Jassavia Reese, Jr., 6-5, 215 (35 tackles, 1 forced fumble)
- LB Andrew Clark, Sr., 6-0, 205
- S Greg Johnson, Sr., 5-11, 170 (1 INT)
Just the facts
- John Tyler won last year’s meeting 50-7.
- John Tyler averages 39.3 points per game and allows 26.3.
- Nacogdoches averages 34.0 points per game and allows 25.1.
- John Tyler averages 441.6 total yards per game: 247.8 passing, 193.9 rushing.
- Nacogdoches averages 358.0 total yards per game: 187.8 passing, 170.3 rushing.
- John Tyler’s two losses (Lufkin, Mesquite Horn) came to teams that enter Friday’s action with a combined record of 10-7.
- Nacogdoches’ two losses (Carthage, Whitehouse) came to teams that enter Friday’s action with a cumulative record of 16-1.
- Nacogdoches and John Tyler have faced three mutual opponents: Lufkin, Corsicana, and Jacksonville.
- Nacogdoches went 3-0 against those foes, beating Lufkin 28-24, Corsicana 48-41, and Jacksonville 31-0.
- John Tyler went 2-1 against those opponents, losing 52-28 to Lufkin, but beating Corsicana 51-22 and Jacksonville 43-30.
Key matchup: Nacogdoches’ back seven vs. John Tyler’s receiving corps. When the historically productive fleet of Fred Ross, Darion Flowers, Justice Liggins, and DeQuante Woods graduated in May, football pundits across the state assumed John Tyler’s receiving corps would be doomed in 2013.
They should know better than that.
A new crop of playmakers has emerged for second-year head coach Ricklan Holmes, who leads JT into Friday’s game with a 19-4 record as the Lions’ boss. Nick Cain, Duntavion Gross, Jeremy Wilson, and Rodney Bendy — none of whom is a senior — have combined for more than 1,500 receiving yards and 18 total touchdowns this season. Don’t forget senior running back Reggie Gipson, who’s a serious receiving threat out of the backfield as well.
Nacogdoches struggled at times to defend Whitehouse’s well-established fleet of receivers a week ago in a 22-point home loss to the No. 3 team in Class 4A. While JT’s group isn’t as experienced as Whitehouse’s, the Lions are just as athletic, if not more. Dragon head coach Bobby Reyes needs a big game from sophomore standout Brandon Jones, one of the breakout defensive players of the year in East Texas, as well as Nacogdoches’ linebackers, including leading tackler Brian Scott. Those linebackers will be needed to watch the ever-present danger of JT’s underneath and perimeter routes that often turn five-yard throws into 50-yard gains.
Don’t be surprised if: The team with the better pass rush wins the game. As evidenced above, the DBs vs. receivers matchup is very important. But perhaps as equally important is whether either team to pressure the other’s quarterback.
Fortunately for both squads, they possess very good defensive lines. What John Tyler’s lacks in statistical production, it compensates with disruption and forcing opponents to game plan for it. Another sophomore named Jones — JT’s Braylon Jones — has proven a force at defensive tackle and frequently collapses the pocket. Junior defensive Jassavia Reese and senior counterpart Darius Amie give JT speed off the edge.
Speaking of which, Nacogdoches boasts senior ends Greg Roberts and Jacorey Whitaker, who have combined for 23 quarterback pressures and 24 tackles for loss. There’s also Jadarius Ervin, who has 16 tackles for loss himself.
One thing is certain: if Nacogdoches flushes JT junior quarterback Geovari McCollister from the pocket, the Dragons better have somebody spying him. McCollister is District 16-4A’s leading rusher and has terrorized defenses all year with his ability to make plays with his legs, something Nacogdoches junior Bryce Matthews also has the ability to do.
Obviously, this game is full of intriguing matchups on both sides of the ball. That should make for quite a show Friday night at Rose Stadium.