John Tyler’s Defense Faces Best Offensive Opponent Yet In 5A D-I Regional Championship
Class 5A Division I
Region II Championship
John Tyler Lions (11-2)
McKinney North (11-2)
7:30 p.m. Friday
UNT's Apogee Stadium, Denton
- John Tyler: Ricklan Holmes
- McKinney North: Mike Fecci
Road to regional final
- Bi-district: def. Texas High, 58-23
- Area: def. Mansfield Summit, 49-27
- Regional semifinal: def. Rockwall-Heath, 49-21
- Bi-district: def. Frisco Wakeland, 24-21
- Area: West Mesquite, 50-44
- Regional semifinal: def. Mansfield Lake Ridge, 56-42
- Winner plays Aledo-Canyon Randall, state semifinals
- CB Isaac Warren, Sr., 6-1, 190 (55 tackles, INT, fumble recovery, defensive TD; committed to Purdue)
- DT Braylon Jones, Jr., 6-4, 295 (79 tackles, 4 for loss, 5 sacks, 2 QB pressures)
- WR Rodney Bendy, Sr., 6-5, 200 (23 catches, 385 yards, 5 TDs; committed to North Texas)
- WR Nick Cain, Sr., 5-11, 175 (46 catches, 649 yards, 4 TDs, 16 carries, 158 yards, 1 TD; committed to ULM)
- QB Geovari McCollister, Sr., 6-3, 205 (185 of 286, 2,788 yards, 24 TDs, 5 INTs; 128 carries, 444 yards, 6 TDs; committed to Central Arkansas)
- RB Jeremy Wilson, Sr., 5-9, 170 (190 carries, 1,521 yards, 23 TDs; 30 catches, 300 yards, 3 TDs)
- WR Duntayviun Gross, Jr., 5-8, 160 (43 catches, 616 yards, 6 TDs)
- S Bryston Gipson, Jr., 6-0, 180 (62 tackles, 2 INT, PBU, 6 fumbles recoveries, 2 blocked kicks, 3 defensive TDs)
- S Jordan Owens, Sr., 5-11, 175 (56 tackles, 8 INTs, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 defensive TD, 1 blocked PAT returned for score)
- DT Pierre Leonard, Jr., 5-10, 245 (86 tackles, 13 for loss, 10 sacks, 6 QB pressures, 1 forced fumble)
- QB Nick Hutchins, Sr., 5-11, 185 (177 of 263, 2,341 yards, 21 TDs, 5 INTs, 193 carries, 1,248 yards, 17 TDs)
- RB Ronald Jones, Sr., 6-1, 185 (220 carries, 1,821 yards, 26 TDs, 2 catches, 0 yards; commited to Oklahoma State)
- WR Gabe Constantine, Sr., 6-1, 190 (62 catches, 778 yards, 4 TDs)
- WR Kirvin Parks, Sr., 5-11, 165 (50 catches, 763 yards, 11 TDs)
- DB Bryce Balous, Sr., 6-1, 185 (152 tackles, 1 INT, 1 forced fumble; committed to Kansas State)
- DT Justin Madubukie, Sr., 6-4, 235 (69 tackles, 33 for loss, 15.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 1 blocked field goal)
- LB Khalil Lewis, Soph., 5-11, 195 (124 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 INT, 1 forced fumbles)
Just the facts
- McKinney North, which commenced classes in 2000, will be playing its first regional championship game in school history.
- John Tyler is making its fifth regional finals appearance since 2009. In that stretch, the team only fell short of a regional championship berth last season.
- The Lions are shooting for their first state semifinals appearance since reaching back-to-back fifth round games in 2009 and 2010.
- McKinney North is on a three-game winning streak. John Tyler is hoping for its seventh straight victory after a narrow loss to Ennis on Oct. 17.
- Wylie beat McKinney North in the two teams' regular season finale, 42-20. Wylie fell, 44-6, to Rockwall-Heath in the playoffs two weeks ago. John Tyler topped Heath last week, 49-27.
- However, McKinney North lost star running back Ronald Jones in the first quarter of the Wylie game with the re-aggravation of an earlier ankle injury.
- McKinney North head coach Mike Fecci told The Dallas Morning News that Jones is now nearly 100 percent healthy.
- Jones is just 28 yards off pace to pass 2,000 rushing yards in Friday's game, and that includes his short stint in the Wylie game.
- If Lions quarterback Geovari McCollister can throw for 212 yards Friday, he'll break 3,000 passing yards. He's already there in total yardage.
- McKinney North will travel 34 miles to North Texas' campus. It's a 134-mile trip for the Lions, one-way.
Key matchup: John Tyler's defense versus McKinney North's offense. The Bulldogs' major impact offensive players have very impressive size. Quarterback Nick Hutchins, primary running back Ronald Jones and its leading receivers are all above 5-11 and 180 pounds with exception to one receiver, Kirvin Parks, who is 165 pounds.
Hutchins has 3,589 total yards and 38 touchdowns through 13 games. He's definitely a player the Lions will want to get control of early. But McKinney North is not a team that can be stopped by shutting down one athlete. Jones has 1,821 rushing yards and 26 scores in less than 12 complete games from his spot in the backfield after the front jammed their original courses.
This is yet another game that could hinge on John Tyler's ever-improving defensive front. The group did a great job jamming Rockwall-Heath's balanced offense, and the secondary made some outstanding plays catching runners trying to make something happen on the edges of the field.
Nose tackle Pierre Leonard recorded his 10th sack of the season and was a force all around against a pretty good Heath offensive line, although it was without senior Texas A&M commitment Trevor Elbert. Fellow defensive tackle Braylon Jones also played a good game with the linebackers in support.
Where McKinney North has special size at its skill positions, the Lions have a nice mix of bulk and athleticism to counter. If Jones can break through the first two levels of John Tyler's defense, the Lions' secondary is quick and does not give up much size. The starting cornerbacks and safeties unit averages about 5-11 and 170 pounds.
With two receivers accounting for 1,541 yards and the rest of the unit gaining another 827 for McKinney North, the John Tyler secondary will have to be sharp in all phases.
Don't be surprised if: Friday's game breaks out into a shootout. Both teams are outstanding offensive teams. The Lions' offense is now over 5,300 yards. McKinney North's defense averages about 30.5 points given up per game, including 44 and 42 points in its past two games.
John Tyler seems to have the defensive edge. It especially choked Texas High and Heath in the playoffs and has capitalized on critical turnover opportunities, but it has not played a team as offensively dynamic as McKinney North all season. Even Ennis -- still alive in the Class 5A Division II playoffs -- significantly trails the Bulldogs in production this season.