No. 7 John Tyler Lions (2-1)

vs.

Whitehouse Wildcats (3-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday
Wildcat Stadium, Whitehouse. Radio: KISX 107.3-FM, Tyler

 

Coaches
  • John Tyler: Ricklan Holmes
  • Whitehouse: Adam Cook

 

Last week
  • John Tyler: idle
  • Whitehouse: idle

 

Next week
  • John Tyler: vs. Lindale, Oct. 3
  • Whitehouse: at Lufkin, Oct. 3

 

Playmakers

John Tyler

  • CB Isaac Warren, Sr., 6-1, 190 (13 tackles, 1 fumble recovery, 1 defensive touchdown; committed to Purdue)
  • DT Braylon Jones, Jr., 6-4, 290 (12 tackles, 1 sack)
  • WR Rodney Bendy, Sr., 6-4, 185 (8 catches, 114 yards; committed to North Texas)
  • WR Nick Cain, Sr., 5-10, 165 (10 catches, 123 yards; 2 carries, 10 yards)
  • QB Geovari McCollister, Sr., 6-3, 205 (41 of 66, 606 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs; 23 carries, 77 yards; committed to Central Arkansas)
  • RB Jeremy Wilson, Sr., 5-7, 160 (42 carries, 318 yards, 4 TDs; 5 catches, 38 yards)
  • S Bryston Gipson, Jr., 6-0, 180 (12 tackles, 1 INT, 3 fumble recoveries, 3 defensive touchdowns)
  • DE Jassavia Reese, Sr., 6-4, 225 (7 tackles, 2 sacks)
  • DL Pierre Leonard, Jr., 5-10, 230 (12 tackles, 3 for loss, 2 sacks)
  • LB Jaylon Reese, Sr., 6-0, 220 (22 tackles)

 

Whitehouse

  • S Justin Dunning, Sr., 6-3, 205 (31 tackles, 3 for loss, 2 INTs, 1 PBU, 1 fumble recovery; committed to Texas A&M)
  • CB Nate Brooks, Sr., 6-0, 150 (20 tackles, 3 INTs, 4 PBU; committed to North Texas)
  • RB Vincent Dunning, Sr., 6-0, 200 (65 carries, 321 yards, 2 TDs; 2 catches, 9 yards)
  • RB/LB Dominique Hollie, Sr., 6-1, 225 (14 carries, 73 yards, 2 TDs; 24 tackles, 2 for loss, 1 forced fumble, 2 recoveries)
  • QB Jackson Allen, Sr., 6-2, 175 (63 of 121, 914 yards, 11 TDs, 1 INT; 14 carries, 22 yards)
  • ATH Shemar Smith, Jr., 5-8, 165 (9 carries, 105 yards, 1 TD; 8 catches, 181 yards, 1 TD)
  • LB Dillan Klein, Sr., 6-1, 210 (27 tackles, 1 sack, 2 QB pressures)
  • WR Trent Williams, Jr., 6-3, 185 (23 catches, 287 yards, 3 TDs)
  • WR Drew Smith, Sr., 5-11, 185 (18 catches, 270 yards, 5 TDs)
  • WR Eric Munoz, Sr., 5-9, 175 (9 catches, 135 yards, 2 TDs)

 

Just the facts
  • This is the fifth all-time meeting between John Tyler and Whitehouse. John Tyler leads the series, which dates back to 2010, 3-1.
  • Friday's game will mark the third consecutive meeting between the two schools when at least one of them is undefeated and state-ranked.
  • John Tyler is averaging 34 points and 353.3 yards per game -- 151.3 rushing and 202 passing.
  • Since 2000, John Tyler is 9-5 in district openers, but has won six consecutive.
  • John Tyler is 6-3 in games following losses since 2009.
  • The cumulative record of District 16-5A teams is 16-8 so far this season.
  • Whitehouse is averaging 48.7 points and 504.7 yards per game -- 200 rushing and 304.7 passing.
  • The Wildcats are 9-1 in district games over the last two seasons. The lone loss was a 45-38 defeat to John Tyler in the 2012 regular-season finale.
  • Whitehouse's defense has forced 11 turnovers already on the year -- six interceptions and five recovered fumbles.
  • The cumulative record of Whitehouse's first three opponents is 3-7. John Tyler's first three opponents are a combined 5-6.

 

John Tyler DT Braylon Jones. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Whitehouse offensive line vs. John Tyler defensive front. It's hard to accomplish what Whitehouse has offensively through three games without a strong offensive line. The Wildcats enter Friday night's District 16-5A opener against seventh-ranked John Tyler unbeaten, averaging almost 50 points and more than 500 yards per game. Whitehouse has been fairly balanced in its offensive approach as well, averaging 200 yards rushing to a little more than 300 through the air. Taking it a step further, Whitehouse has called almost as man rushing attempts (113) as pass attempts (121). In the last two seasons combined, Whitehouse' offense was much more pass-heavy. Between 2012-13, 57 percent of Whitehouse's plays from scrimmage were passes, while accounting for almost 70 percent of the Wildcats' total yardage. Senior running back Vincent Dunning has had a strong start to the season, averaging more than 100 yards per game and almost five yards per carry. His 65 rushing attempts through three games are already two more than he had in seven games all of last season.

Whitehouse RB Vincent Dunning. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

The passing game has not skipped much of a beat without 2014 Texas Tech signee Patrick Mahomes at quarterback, or Whitehouse's top four receivers from last season. Senior Jackson Allen has filled the void quite nicely so far with more than 900 yards passing, 11 touchdowns and just one interception in 121 passing attempts. The receiving corps has been solid as well. The foursome of seniors Drew Smith and Eric Munoz and juniors Trent Williams and Shemar Smith have combined for 58 of the team's 63 receptions for 873 of the 914 yards and all 11 touchdowns. Williams leads in receptions and yards, while Drew Smith is the team leader in yards per catch and touchdowns.

John Tyler DE Jassavia Reese. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

John Tyler's defense, which played well in the Lions' first two games of the season, will need a bounce-back performance Friday night after being burned by crosstown rival Tyler Lee two weeks ago. After holding both Plano and Longview to less than 300 total yards of offense -- scoring four defensive touchdowns in the process -- John Tyler surrendered almost 600 yards in the loss to Lee, which knocked the Lions out of the No. 1 spot in the Associated Press Class 5A poll. Much of the Red Raiders' damage came in the second half, in which John Tyler was outscored 34-14 in the 37-31 Lee victory. The biggest problem for JT's defense that night was containing Lee's dual-threat quarterback Zach Hall, who put up more than 350 total yards and accounted for five touchdowns in the game. Hall ran the read-option to near-perfection, often finding large chunks of uninhabited real estate in the open field.

Whitehouse's offense presents a different challenge. While the Wildcats do run out of the spread formation, just like Lee, Whitehouse's offense is based on a heavy dose of quick timing routes between the quarterback and his receivers. The Wildcats will occasionally take shots deep down the field, most often when unsuspecting defensive backs bite on pump-fakes by the quarterback. This presents opposing defenses two options when it comes to covering receivers: have the corners play close to the line of scrimmage, which could leave them vulnerable to pump-fakes or double-moves, or play back and give the offense the short completions and rely on the defensive backs to make tackles in one-on-one situations.

Whitehouse CB Nate Brooks. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

However, an aggressive pass rush from the defensive front can change everything. John Tyler has recorded 11 sacks through three games. Senior end Jassavia Reese and his junior counterpart Pierre Leonard have two apiece, but nine different Lions already have at least one sack on the young season. Junior defensive tackle Braylon Jones, one of East Texas' top overall recruits in the 2016 class, earns his stripes by filling running lanes and occupying double-teams, which usually frees up one of his line-mates or a crashing linebacker. If John Tyler can create enough pressure on Allen, the timing in the passing game could get disrupted, which could in-turn lead to turnovers. So far this season, the Lions have been outstanding when it comes to turning opposing offenses' mistakes into points. Junior safety Bryston Gipson has an interception, three fumble recoveries and three defensive touchdowns. Senior cornerback Isaac Warren, a Purdue commit, is one of the area's most physically gifted defensive backs. He returned a fumble more than 50 yards for a touchdown three weeks ago against Longview.

John Tyler RB Jeremy Wilson. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Don't be surprised if: John Tyler senior running back Jeremy Wilson plays a huge role in the outcome of Friday's game. He was almost a one-man wrecking crew in the loss to Lee, rushing for 208 yards and four touchdowns on only 18 attempts -- 11.6 yards per carry. In last year's game at Whitehouse, Wilson also had a big night by going for 130 yards and a touchdown on eight carries, while hauling in three receptions for 40 yards and another score. Wilson will be one of the smallest men on the field, but don't let that fool you; he'll also be one of the fastest, if not the fastest. Whitehouse junior receiver Shemar Smith, a sprinter who qualified for the U.S. Junior Olympic team over the summer, and Wilson would make for a good foot-race. Whitehouse also has two of the best defensive backs in the area in senior free safety Justin Dunning, a Texas A&M commit, and senior cornerback and North Texas pledge Nate Brooks. The duo has already combined for five interceptions on the young season, and their play on John Tyler receivers Rodney Bendy (North Texas commit) and Nick Cain (offer from ULM) will be critically important as well. If John Tyler's offense is looking for a game-changer it could be Wilson, whose speed in the open field is something Whitehouse hopes not to see too much of Friday night.