Whitehouse, John Tyler Run Across Each Other in State 7-on-7 Tournament + Lions Surpass Expectations
COLLEGE STATION -- The 2014 John Tyler football squad is full of colorful and charismatic characters yet they huddled around their bench in silence as it became painfully apparent they were going to bow out to their District 16-5A rival at the Texas State 7-on-7 Championships.
Whitehouse topped the Lions, 40-31, in the quarterfinals of the statewide event at Veterans Park and Athletic Complex and went on to make an appearance in the Division I championship game.
"I wanted it bad," John Tyler linebacker Jaylon Reese said. "I just knew it was going end dramatically. We just couldn't grasp it. They're a good team with a lot of athletes. Their quarterback (Jackson Allen) is nice and fills (Patrick) Mahomes' shoes pretty nice."
The Lions once led 19-7.
John Tyler was the last of three East Texas teams to qualify for the Division I tournament, but the program attacked the state field with a straightforward approach many other 7-on-7 coaches opted not to utilize.
Instead of using primary running backs as a pure receivers in the all-passing event, Jeremy Wilson stayed close to quarterback Geovari McCollister for dump off throws. He used his 4.41 40-yard dash time to burn linebacker corps and find open space to make moves against the secondary.
Wilson scored three touchdowns in the Lions' first two games Saturday and freed a good group of receivers to run deeper routes down the field.
Whitehouse, headlined with Texas A&M commitment Justin Dunning and North Texas pledge Nate Brooks, had the athletes needed to largely contain that element of John Tyler's game.
McCollister had to tread lightly around the Wildcats' defense, especially once the field shortened near the end zone.
After three consecutive touchdown drives to start the game on the way to the 19-7 lead, the Lions' offense stalled three times in the game's final 21 minutes. It also failed three extra point attempts through the game and a two-point conversion.
"I think it was the defense, honestly, getting the ball back to us," Whitehouse receiver Eric Munoz said. "We were down at the beginning, but they just picked us up and kept getting the ball back for us. We had to score for them. We were just looking out for each other. It turned out great in the end."
Allen led the Wildcats to two touchdowns on three possessions in the first half for a 19-13 deficit at the break. He then guided his squad to four second half touchdowns in as many drives and threw for three extra point scores.
John Tyler could not match.
"Most teams that we played out here played with their true defense and their linebackers," McCollister said. "That's why it was kind of easy for me to pick them apart and throw the ball on them into windows. Whitehouse came out here with straight skill players. Everybody on the field was fast. There were tighter windows and I've really got to make throws.
"We played good, but there are still things we need to work on."
There weren't any tears, tantrums or taunting after the game. The two teams seemed to be impressed by each other and exited the field with positive words.
John Tyler and the Wildcats will meet in district play on Sept. 26 in Whitehouse with trench players in tow.
"I hear I can't run the ball," McCollister said. "When we play them, you'll see me running it a bit."
JT Cruises Out-Of-Region
It was a good day for the Lions overall.
The team tied for the program's best finish ever, a quarterfinals appearance in the summer of 2004.
It rolled over Frisco Heritage in the opening round of the Division I championship bracket, 49-26, and topped a very successful Denison 7-on-7 team in the round of 16.
McCollister passed for 16 touchdowns in 120 minutes of continous clock action on 45-yard fields.
Nick Cain led the team with seven touchdown receptions and North Texas commit Rodney Bendy had four scoring grabs. Duntayviun Gross had two touchdowns catches while Wilson scored three times on dink passes from the running back position.
Jaylon Watson picked off three passes and Shadrick Williams added a fourth interception in the Lions' first two games. Ike Warren played a hand in several broken up passes.
"It's been a while since John Tyler has made it to the winner's bracket," Wilson said. "Getting to the winner bracket, it felt real good making it this far."
Tyler Lee Adds Another Win
The Red Raiders had a rough go at it in Pool J, but the squad picked up a 20-13 win against Mission Veterans on Saturday in the consolation bracket before calling it a day.
Tyler Lee fell by a point to Channelview in the round of 16, 33-32.
The lone Class 6A school in East Texas will begin its season Aug. 30 against Keller Fossil Ridge.