CLASS 5A DIVISION I AREA

Mansfield Lake Ridge Eagles (11-0)

vs.

John Tyler Lions (8-3)

2 p.m. Saturday

City Bank Stadium, Forney

 

Coaches
  • Lake Ridge: Kirk Thor
  • John Tyler: Ricklan Holmes

 

Last week

 

Next week
  • Winner faces winner between Wylie East and Mesquite Poteet, regional quarterfinals

 

Playmakers

Lake Ridge

  • QB Jett Duffey, Sr., 6-0, 180 (109 of 175, 1,831 yards, 21 TDs, 3 INTs; 96 carries, 1,069 yards, 12 TDs; committed to Texas Tech)
  • LB Loren Mondy, Jr., 6-1, 240 (committed to Arizona State)
  • RB Duke Carter, Sr., 5-8, 185 (154 carries, 1,324 yards, 22 TDs; 5 catches, 72 yards, 1 TD; committed to ULM)
  • DB Arnold Azunna, Sr., 6-0, 190 (committed to Iowa State)
  • DB Austin McCarther, Sr., 6-1, 180
  • LB Jack Lechman, Sr., 6-2, 220
  • WR Jabari Ford, Sr., 5-8, 155 (19 catches, 316 yards, 5 TDs)
  • WR Tyler Robinson, Jr., 5-11, 170 (18 catches, 302 yards, 4 TDs)

 

John Tyler

  • WR Damion Miller, Jr., 6-2, 205 (39 catches, 846 yards, 8 TDs; committed to Texas)
  • OL/DT Braylon Jones, Sr., 6-4, 290 (65 tackles, 1 for loss, 15 QB pressures, 2 forced fumbles; committed to Houston)
  • QB Bryson Smith, Jr., 6-0, 170 (149 of 238, 2,238 yards, 18 TDs, 5 INTs; 153 carries, 1,209 yards, 17 TDs)
  • DL Pierre Leonard, Sr., 5-10, 245 (74 tackles, 14 for loss, 5 sacks, 30 QB pressures, 4 forced fumbles, 1 recovery, 2 blocked kicks)
  • WR Duntayviun Gross, Sr., 5-10, 160 (63 catches, 776 yards, 5 TDs)
  • DB Kieran Freeman, Jr., 5-8, 155 (40 tackles, 5 INTs, 1 PBU, 1 fumble recovery)
  • S Bryston Giposn, Sr., 5-11, 175 (93 tackles, 1 for loss, 1 INT, 8 PBUs, 1 fumble recovery, 3 blocked kicks)
  • DE Dekalen Goodson, Soph., 6-2, 200 (30 tackles, 6 sacks, 6 QB pressures, 1 PBU)

 

Just the facts
  • Mansfield Lake Ridge is in its fourth season of varsity football. It defeated Longview in the area round of the playoffs in 2014.
  • Since 1958, John Tyler has made the playoffs in 25 of 58 seasons.
  • Lake Ridge averages 51 points and 487.5 yards per game -- 300.7 rushing and 186.8 passing.
  • The Eagles' defense is allowing 20.7 points and 290 yards per game -- 150.2 rushing and 139.8 passing.
  • The cumulative record of Lake Ridge's opponents this season is 56-60 (.483).
  • John Tyler averages 37.6 points and 407.5 yards per game -- 197.7 rushing and 209.8 passing.
  • The Lions are 5-1 in area-round playoff games since 2009.
  • During John Tyler's current eight-game winning streak, the Lions are outscoring opponents by an average margin of 19.1 points per game.

 

Mansfield Lake Ridge quarterback Jett Duffey runs into the end zone for a touchdown in the Eagles' area-round playoff win over Longview on Nov. 22, 2014. (Mark Martin, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: John Tyler quarterback Bryson Smith vs. Lake Ridge quarterback Jett Duffey. There are a few parallels involving the two signal-callers in Saturday afternoon's game. Both are two of the best dual-threat quarterbacks remaining in the 5A playoffs, and each will need to have to big-time performances in order for their teams to advance.

Duffey is currently committed to Texas Tech, and is considered among the top-rated quarterbacks in the state. Scout.com ranks Duffey as the eighth-best prospect at his position in his recruiting class. And his production as a senior has backed up those claims. Duffey comes into this week averaging a little more than 263 yards from scrimmage, and has accounted for 33 of his team's 72 offensive touchdowns through 11 games. One East Texas opponent in particular got a first-hand look at Duffey's prowess a season ago, when Longview faced off and ultimately fell to Lake Ridge in the area round of the playoffs. In the 37-35 Eagles victory, Duffey lit the Lobos' secondary up for 414 yards and a touchdown on 23 of 35 passing. However, Duffey was neutralized as a runner that day, finishing with only 30 yards on 19 rushing attempts.

John Tyler QB Bryson Smith. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

Smith, in his first season as John Tyler's starting quarterback, has fallen right in line with the Lions' dual-threat quarterbacks in recent years -- Jeremy Johnson, Greg Ward, and Geovari McCollister. After a slow start to his junior campaign, Smith has assumed full control of a JT offense that has hit its stride during the Lions' current eight-game winning streak. In John Tyler's 0-3 start, Smith struggled, completing 51.4 percent of his attempts with two touchdowns and three interceptions while averaging 161.7 passing yards per game. Since then, his completion percentage is right at 67 percent, his production has increased (219.1 YPG), and his touchdown-interception ratio is 8-to-1. Not surprisingly, John Tyler is averaging 20 more points per game over the previous eight weeks.

The rushing totals for Duffey and Smith are similar, but much more has been asked of Smith as a runner this season than his Lake Ridge counterpart. Duffey has run for 1,069 yards and 12 touchdowns, which are both second on the team to Eagles senior running back Duke Carter, a ULM commit. Smith has rushed for more yards (1,209) and touchdowns (17) than Duffey, and both figures are the most on the John Tyler offense. The Lions' second-most productive runner has just 415 yards on the season. Smith has also carried the ball 153 times, which is 57 more attempts than Duffey.

John Tyler DL Pierre Leonard. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

Don't be surprised if: Saturday's game is decided through the air. Each team's defense is especially stingy against opposing running games, and that doesn't figure to change on Saturday. Lake Ridge allows right at 150 rushing yards per game, which is a respectable figure considering its offense averages literally twice as many ground yards per game. John Tyler's strength is its defensive front, anchored by senior tackles Braylon Jones (Houston commit) and Pierre Leonard, Jones has played both ways as an offensive lineman this season, which has limited his production on the defensive side of the ball. But with every team facing a win-or-go-home proposition from here on out, it would be a surprise if Jones left the field very often.

If both John Tyler and Lake Ridge's running games are neutralized, the Lions may have an edge in the passing department. Smith and Duffey are similarly efficient, but John Tyler will have arguably the biggest playmaker on the field in junior receiver and Texas commit Damion Miller. The standout pass catcher has been the biggest benefactor to Smith's progression as a passer. Miller caught only seven passes and one touchdown in his first two games of the season, but has had three 100-yard receiving games since, and enters this week having caught at least one touchdown in four consecutive games.