No. 8 John Tyler Begins Year Of High Expectations Friday Night Against Plano
Plano Wildcats (0-0)
No. 8 John Tyler Lions (0-0)
7:30 p.m. Friday
Rose Stadium, Tyler
- Plano: Jaydon McCullough
- John Tyler: Ricklan Holmes
- Plano: vs. Irving MacArthur, Sept. 5
- John Tyler: at Longview, Sept. 5
- OL/DL Sam Tecklenburg, Sr., 6-3, 270 (committed to Baylor)
- OL Beau Hott, Sr., 6-3, 270 (committed to Oregon State)
- RB Brandon Stephens, Jr., 6-1, 200 (174 carries, 997 yards, 7 TDs)
- WR Chance Aubrey, Sr., 6-3, 180
- ATH Mitchell Hansen, Sr., 6-4, 195 (48 carries, 272 yards, 7 TDs)
- DB Cody Farhat, Sr., 6-0, 180
- QB Brooks Panhans, Sr., 6-3, 180 (39 of 82, 582 yards, 5 TDs, 5 INTs; 122 carries, 651 yards, 9 TDs)
- WR Matthew Kirchner, Sr., 6-3, 195 (16 catches, 174 yards)
- CB Isaac Warren, Sr., 6-1, 190 (28 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 2 PBU; committed to Purdue)
- WR Rodney Bendy, Sr., 6-5, 200 (28 catches, 361 yards, 4 TDs; committed to North Texas)
- QB Geovari McCollister, Sr., 6-3, 205 (175 of 269, 2,615 yards, 22 TDs, 6 INTs; 199 carries, 852 yards, 10 TDs; committed to Central Arkansas)
- DT Braylon Jones, Jr., 6-4, 295 (61 tackles, 10.5 for loss, 2.5 sacks, 5 QB pressures, 1 fumble recovery, 3 PBU)
- WR Nick Cain, Sr., 5-11, 175 (53 catches, 884 yards, 7 TDs; 19 carries, 181 yards, 3 TDs)
- RB Jeremy Wilson, Sr., 5-9, 170 (41 carries, 441 yards, 7 TDs; 22 catches, 388 yards, 3 TDs)
- LB Jaylon Reese, Sr., 6-1, 225 (28 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT)
- WR Duntayviun Gross, Jr., 5-10, 160 (44 catches, 524 yards, 2 TDs)
Just the facts
- This will be just the fourth all-time meeting between John Tyler and Plano. All three previous occurrences came in the playoffs in 1973, 1978 and 2000.
- In 1994, both schools won state championships. Plano captured the Class 5A Division I title, while John Tyler won the 5A D-II crown.
- John Tyler is 4-10 in season openers since 2000. Only one of the opponents hailed from the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex -- Garland, in 2002 and 2003.
- Since 2009, John Tyler has amassed a record of 55-14 -- the program's best five-year stretch since the Lions were 58-11 from 1994-98.
- John Tyler returns nine offensive and seven defensive starters from last season's 7-4 Class 4A Division I bi-district finalist.
- Plano is 8-2 in season openers since 2004. The Wildcats have won their last four.
- Plano is one of Texas' most storied programs, having won seven state championships (1965, 1967, 1971, 1977, 1986, 1987, 1994) and appearing in two other title games (1978, 1993).
- The Wildcats bring back eight offensive and four defensive starters from last year's 7-4 Class 5A Division I bi-district finalist.
Key matchup: Plano offensive line vs. John Tyler defensive front. Plano brings one of the state's most impressive offensive lines as well as one of the most talented running backs in the 2016 class into Friday night's opener in Tyler. The senior O-line combo of Sam Tecklenburg and Beau Hott are both committed to Division I FBS programs -- Tecklenburg to Baylor and Hott to Oregon State. Meanwhile, Stephens has offers from Ohio State and Wisconsin and could be picking up a few more before his junior season ends. Stephens, who has an ideal body type for college football, rushed for nearly 1,000 yards as a sophomore in 2013. Those numbers could be on the rise this fall with Stephens expected to be the focal point of an offense that returns eight starters from a season ago. When Stephens doesn't have his number called, senior quarterback Brooks Panhans is more than capable of picking up tough yardage on the ground as well. Senior Mitchell Hansen is another dangerous skill-position player for Plano.
John Tyler counters with a defensive front that includes one of East Texas' most talented players in the 2016 class -- junior defensive tackle Braylon Jones. The compact, strong and physical interior lineman burst onto the scene as a sophomore to finish the year with the team lead in tackles for loss. His production is matched only by his intellect, willingness to be coached and an attention to detail seldom seen by similar players of Jones' stature. Senior defensive end Jassavia Reese and senior linebacker Jaylon Reese are both quality defenders up front as well for John Tyler, which must become more physical up front this season if it hopes to go deep in the playoffs. If Plano's offensive line is able to win the battle of the trenches, allowing the Wildcats' offense to dictate tempo, it will limit the amount of time John Tyler's talented collection of offensive skill players have to operate.
Don't be surprised if: Friday's game becomes a game defined by contrasting styles. While Plano prefers to use its experienced and powerful offensive line and tried-and-true running game to grind out wins, John Tyler typically relies on the big play to put points on the board. There's no question the Lions have an edge when it comes to overall team speed, especially on offense, and will gladly spread the ball around to its deep stable of backs and receivers. The question then becomes how John Tyler's defense stacks up against Plano's offense. If John Tyler does put together several quick scoring drives, it will be up the Lions' defense to get off the field in a timely manner in an effort to conserve energy for later in the game. Time of possession could be an interesting stat to monitor throughout the course of the game.