Rockwall Yellowjackets (0-3)

vs.

John Tyler Lions (3-0)

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

Coaches

  • Rockwall: Rodney Webb
  • John Tyler: Ricklan Holmes
Last week

Next week
  • Rockwall: vs. Rockwall-Heath, Sept. 23
  • John Tyler: at North Mesquite, Sept. 23
Playmakers

Rockwall

  • WR Sam Crawford, Sr., 6-1, 190 (16 catches, 299 yards, 3 TDs, 10 carries, 97 yards, 2 TDs)
  • RB/DB A.J. Blacknall, Sr., 5-7, 195 (55 carries, 284 yards, 3 catches, 62 yards)
  • QB Matt Jones, Sr., 5-11, 170 (34-of-64 passing, 551 yards, 5 TDs, 1 INT, 28 carries, 162 yards, 1 TD)
  • WR Cameron Crayton, Jr., 6-2, 180 (7 catches, 121 yards, 1 TD)

John Tyler

  • QB Bryson Smith, Sr., 6-0, 175 (41-of-79 passing, 722 yards, 10 TDs, 2 INTs, 33 carries, 256 yards, 2 TDs; committed to Houston)
  • WR Damion Miller, Sr., 6-2, 195 (7 catches, 307 yards, 4 TDs; committed to Texas)
  • DB Javonta Mosley, Sr., 6-2, 175 (10 tackles, 5 pass breakups; committed to UTSA)
  • DL/LB DeKalen Goodson, Jr., 6-2, 215 (26 tackles, 4 for loss, 6 sacks, 2 QB hurries, 1 fumble forced, 1 fumble recovery)
  • LB Tre Allison, Jr., 6-2, 200 (28 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT, 2 pass breakups)
  • WR Ke’Andre Street, Soph., 6-4, 195 (7 catches, 129 yards, 2 TDs)
  • DB Kieran Freeman, Sr., 5-9, 170 (18 tackles, 1 INT, 7 pass breakups)
  • LB Shaundrick Williams, Sr., 5-11, 220 (26 tackles, 1 sack)
Just the facts
  • Friday's game is both John Tyler and Rockwall's District 11-6A opener.
  • The Lions have played Class 6A teams routinely, including in Week 1 of this season against Plano West, but this is its first district game at the 6A level since 2009.
  • Rockwall was in a district with Tyler Lee last season when Lee was East Texas' lone 6A team. It hammered Lee, 65-35.
  • John Tyler is ranked No. 1 in the ETSN.fm Class 6A/5A Poll. It also is receiving votes in the Associated Press' state wide Class 6A Poll, effectively making it 15th-highest regarded team in Texas alongside Southlake Carroll.
  • Rockwall has started the season with an 0-3 record, but it has played strong competition in Dallas Highland Park, Rowlett and Southlake Carroll.
  • John Tyler also has played a good schedule against Plano West, Ennis and New Orleans Warren Easton. It outscored those opponents, 126-34.
  • On the heels of a 6A Division II, Region II championship appearance last season, ETSN.fm projected Rockwall to win District 11-6A. John Tyler was picked second in the preseason standings.
  • Rockwall will travel 85 miles one-way to CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium.
John Tyler defensive end DeKalen Goodson wraps up Warren Easton quarterback Lance Legendre for one of his four sacks Saturday.

Key matchup: Rockwall's offensive tricks versus John Tyler's defense.

The Lions defenders are facing a team that runs the spread and is straight forward, but it has several players that thrive in both the passing and the running games.

Receiver Sam Crawford has 97 rushing yards on 10 sweep calls in addition to his impressive 299 receiving yards on 16 receptions. Running back A.J. Blacknall has 62 receiving yards on three receptions.

Those two players' numbers in their second-best facets aren't daunting by any means, but 9.7 yards per carry for Crawford and 20.6 yards per reception for Blacknall help keep some Rockwall drives going and give the team a little bit of an emotional jolt.

It's easy for defenders to get lost on the field at the Class 6A level. Teams can't key in on particular players to only do particular things.

John Tyler has to play a good defensive game and be wary of players being used away from their primary roles for big gains.

Sticking to assignments is very important against Rockwall.

Fortunately for the Lions, their defense has shown no glaring weaknesses against a quality schedule. The most recent feat was holding New Orleans Warren Easton to 2.9 yards per play through 82 snaps.

Big East Texas teams are often seen as having deep wealth at the skill positions and not enough good players at interior spots. Defensively, along the defensive line and at linebacker.

John Tyler breaks the perceived East Texas mold. At least this season.

Ends Dekalen Goodson and Howard Hawkins have combined for 20 tackles for negative yardage by themselves. Tre Allison and Shaundrick Williams, at linebacker, also have been big in holding opponents to an average of 11.3 points per game.

John Tyler cornerback Kieran Freeman, working opposite from UTSA commitment Jovonta Mosley, has one interception and a team-best seven pass breakups. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

Of course, the Lions do have wealth at the defensive skill spots. Cornerbacks Javonta Mosley and Kieran Freeman had interceptions last week and have broken up another 12 passes through three games.

Safeties? They haven't been tested much this season thanks to the players in front of them.

 

 

Don't be surprised if: John Tyler takes the win at home against a reeling team.

While Rockwall faces a difficult matchup when on offense, the Lions' own offense has performed well.

Houston quarterback commitment Bryson Smith 978 yards of total offense. Texas receiver commitment Damion Miller has seven catches for 307 yards and four touchdowns.

Since defenses emphasize taking Miller away, three other receivers have more than 100 yards and six have touches in total while combining for six scores.

Smith has a net of 256 rushing yards and, unlike last season, a good supplemental ground game highlighted by running back Justin Samples has emerged.

There are a lot of challenges for Rockwall to overcome.

John Tyler quarterback and Houston commitment Bryson Smith. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)