[By Stephen Amason, Special to ETSN.fm]

The John Tyler Lions wanted to test themselves early this early this season by playing a couple of 6A powerhouses in Cedar Hill and Longview. Though those two games did not go in their favor, playing those teams helped get themselves ready for a tough district schedule ahead.

John Tyler has been firing on all cylinders, and currently has a record of 2-0 in District 7-5A Division I play.

“We needed to make sure that we were battle-tested before we hit district,” John Tyler head football coach Ricklan Holmes said Tuesday. “Our district is going to be tough, the playoffs are even tougher, that’s why we played all 6A teams to start the season out.”

The Lions’ rushing attack has been impressive all year. They have seven different running backs with at least one touchdown. To say they’re deep at the running back position is an understatement.

“We use the philosophy that we had when I played here under coach (Allen) Wilson: having a fresh running back by having a rotation of backs,” Holmes said. “We have a luxury this year by having several running backs that can touch the ball and do some damage with it in their hands.”

Passing the football has also been a strong suit for the Lions. Senior quarterback Devlen Woods has been averaging 23.8 yards per toss, and has 808 yards on the year.

“He’s the guy this year, we knew that at the end of last season coming into this season,” Holmes said. “He’s the leader, the guy that everyone looks up to on the team, and they know if he stays healthy and stays upright, we can have a long and successful football season.”

On the defensive side of the football, John Tyler has been able to put pressure on quarterbacks all year.

Last Friday against Wylie East, the Lions recorded five sacks bringing their total to 19 on the year.

Holmes gives credit to a lot of their success on defense this year to defensive coordinator Barry Anderson.

“He’s a guy that knows what he’s doing, been around the game a long time,” Holmes said. “He has some assistant coaches that do a fine job for him getting the plan together with him and executing it well with the kids.”

John Tyler (3-2) looks to add another district win this Friday, as it goes on the road to take on the West Mesquite Wranglers (2-2, 1-0).

“Defensively they play fundamentally sound football, they don't make many mistakes, you don’t see them miss a lot of tackles,” Holmes said. “On the offensive side of the ball, they have three electrifying athletes on that side, their running back, their quarterback, and the big outside receiver that everybody in the country is recruiting.”