Tyler Lee Needs A Win Thursday To Keep Alive Hopes Of Breaking Three-Year Playoff Drought
Tyler Lee Red Raiders (4-5, 3-3)
Garland Naaman Forest Rangers (1-8, 1-5)
7 p.m. Thursday
Williams Stadium, Garland
- Tyler Lee: Darrell Piske
- Naaman Forest: Marvin Sedberrry Jr.
- Tyler Lee: lost to Rockwall, 61-54
- Naaman Forest: lost to Rowlett, 44-0
- Tyler Lee: TBD
- Naaman Forest: season is complete
Just the facts
- Tyler Lee needs a victory and a Sachse loss to Rowlett in order to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
- The Red Raiders are averaging 40.6 points and 482.8 yards per game -- 282.8 rushing and 200 passing.
- Tyler Lee is allowing 39.7 points per game. The Raiders have allowed 40 points or more in a game five times this season.
- The Red Raiders rushed a season-high 56 times in last week's loss to Rockwall.
- Tyler Lee averages 68 offensive snaps per game -- roughly 43 are running plays and 25 are passes.
- Naaman Forest has been outscored by an average score of 42-27 this season.
- The Rangers' only victory came against winless North Garland, 42-21, in Week 5.
- Naaman Forest averages 27 points and 407.1 yards per game -- 292.3 rushing and 114.8 passing.
- LB Brandon Durman, Sr., 6-2, 230 (107 tackles, 9 for loss, sack, 2 QB pressures, 2 PBUs; committed to Louisiana Tech)
- QB Zach Hall, Jr., 5-11, 170 (126 of 216, 1,770 yards, 13 TDs, 2 INTs; 153 carries, 1,018 yards, 15 TDs)
- RB Tavon Wesley, Jr., 6-1, 190 (100 carries, 616 yards, 5 TDs; 6 catches, 70 yards)
- WR Isjuwan Barker, Jr., 6-3, 186 (35 catches, 622 yards, 9 TDs)
- RB Devonte Craver, Jr., 6-1, 175 (64 carries, 457 yards, 6 TDs; 5 catches, 43 yards, TD)
- WR Jordan Devers, Jr., 6-0, 180 (28 catches, 403 yards, 4 TDs)
- OL Justin Willoughby, Sr., 6-3, 280
- DB Cameron Price, Sr. (22 tackles, 2 QB pressures, 2 INTs, 6 PBUs)
- RB Michael Nelson, Sr., 6-0, 210 (239 carries, 1,667 yards, 20 TDs; 9 catches, 74 yards)
- QB Juwan Saddler, Sr., 5-8, 170 (75 of 133, 844 yards, 3 TDs, 8 INTs; 98 carries, 599 yards, 7 TDs)
- WR Travis Taylor, Soph., 5-10, 165 (23 catches, 161 yards, TD)
- WR Jawuan Williams, Sr., 5-9, 160 (19 catches, 198 yards)
- DB Caleb Valentine, Sr., 5-9, 170
- WR Chase Harris, Sr., 6-1, 175 (7 catches, 197 yards, TD)
Key matchup: Garland Naaman Forest rushing attack vs. Tyler Lee defensive front. Tyler Lee would prefer not to engage in a shootout; it's not had good luck with that of late, having dropped 62-54 and 61-54 decision in two of the last three weeks. In order for the Red Raiders to breathe easier, they must be able to contain the ground game of Naaman Forest, and in particular the Rangers' senior running back Michael Nelson. Naaman Forest has just one win on the season -- coming against a winless North Garland team -- but if there's one thing the Rangers do well it's running the football. Nelson averages 185 rushing yards per game and has scored 20 touchdowns on the year. Only twice has the talented senior back been held to less than 100 yards in a game, and those happen to be Naaman Forest's most lopsided losses of the season -- a 71-14 loss to Rockwall and last week's 44-0 defeat vs. Rowlett. Those two games also are the only two in which Nelson has failed to find the end zone. Take those two losses out of the equation, and Naaman Forest has been fairly competitive, only being outscored in defeats by an average of 9.8 points.
For the season, Lee is allowing 261.1 rushing yards per game, but that only tells part of the story. In losses to Garland and Rockwall, who both feature similarly productive running backs -- Markeith Miller and Chris Warren, respectively -- to Nelson, Lee gave up a total of 1,081 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground. To the Red Raiders' credit, they were in both games until the end, but that says more about Lee's explosive offense than it does about a defense that's had major issues against the run this season. Containing Naaman Forest's rushing attack, while probably easier said than done, should yield a positive outcome for Lee. Rangers quarterback Juwan Saddler has not posed much of a threat through the air, as he's averaging less than 100 passing yards with eight interceptions and only three touchdowns on the year. If the Red Raiders can keep Nelson and Co. from dictating tempo, they stand to have an excellent chance of holding up their end of the bargain concerning the District 11-6A playoff race.
Don't be surprised if: Tyler Lee gets off to a quick start offensively. Knowing that a loss wipes them out of playoff contention altogether, the Red Raiders would prefer not to play from behind. Lee's offense is on quite the roll, averaging 47.2 points and 517.7 yards per game in district play. Junior quarterback Zach Hall has been pushing all the right buttons as well, accounting for 2,788 yards of offense and 28 of the team's 46 offensive touchdowns. Turnovers have not been a problem for the Lee QB either, as Hall has thrown just two interceptions in 216 attempts. While the defense has had its issues for sure, it has generally been smooth sailing when Lee has the ball. Despite the inconsistency on defense, Lee's three district losses have come by a combined 20 points, so the Red Raiders are very much accustomed to fighting through adversity by answering opponents score-for-score. With Lee's postseason fate hinging on a win over Naaman Forest, and the outcome of Friday's game between Rowlett and Sachse, expect the Red Raiders to play inspired football on Thursday. None of Lee's seniors have experienced the playoffs, and if the Raiders miss out again yet again this year, it will be the first time since 1986 that an entire class of players went through high school without achieving a postseason berth.