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Youthful John Tyler Team Opens Season at Experienced Lufkin in Our Game of the Week

Lufkin defensive tackle D.J. Williams goes through a drill during the Panthers’ practice Aug. 14 in Lufkin. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

No. 8 John Tyler Lions

vs.

Lufkin Panthers

7:30 p.m. Friday

John Outlaw Memorial Field At Abe Martin Stadium, Lufkin

 

Coaches
  • John Tyler: Ricklan Holmes
  • Lufkin: Todd Quick

 

Last season
  • John Tyler def. Lufkin, 35-21

 

Next week
  • John Tyler: vs. Lancaster (Saturday)
  • Lufkin: at Tyler Lee

 

Playmakers

John Tyler

  • DB Terry Ausborne, Sr., 5-10, 170
  • RB Reggie Gipson, Sr., 5-10, 175
  • DT Travaughn Moore, Sr., 6-3, 280
  • LB Andrew Clark, Sr., 6-1, 205
  • LB Malik Hubbard, Sr., 5-10, 175
  • DE Darius Amie, Sr., 6-1, 205
  • QB Geovari McCollister, Jr., 6-2, 200
  • WR Nick Cain, Jr., 5-10, 165
  • WR Rodney Bendy, Jr., 6-4, 190
  • CB Isaac Warren, Jr., 6-1, 180
  • DE Jassavia Reese, Jr., 6-5, 215
  • WR Duntavion Gross, Soph., 5-8, 150

 

Lufkin

  • ATH KeKe Coutee, Jr., 5-10, 159 (committed to Texas)
  • WR Jamal Jeffery, Sr., 5-10, 164 (committed to Texas A&M)
  • DT D.J. Williams, Sr., 6-4, 293
  • QB Trey Cumbie, Jr., 6-1, 189
  • WR Terry Mark, Jr., 6-1, 180
  • S Michael Farley, Sr., 6-0, 180
  • OT Erik McCoy, Jr., 6-4, 282
  • LB D’Angelo Hightower, Sr., 6-0, 185
  • LB D.J. Alexander, Sr.
  • DB De’Andre Hooper, Sr.
  • C Wacey Hartman, Sr.
  • OL Dominick Hall, Sr.

 

Just the facts
  • John Tyler graduated 92 percent of its offensive production from 2012 when the Lions averaged 42.3 points and 446.2 yards per game.
  • The Lions’ record over the last four years in 48-10 with two trips to the state quarterfinals and two to the state semifinals.
  • The last time JT won back-to-back meetings with Lufkin was 1995-96.
  • The Lions lead the all-time series with Lufkin 26-24-3, but the Panthers have won 10 of the last 12 meetings.
  • Lufkin is 19-3-1 in season openers since 1990. The Panthers’ last season-opening loss before 2012 was in 1992.
  • The Panthers won a playoff game last season for the first time since 2008 and reached the third round of the postseason for the first time since 2005′s state semifinal run.
  • Lufkin has six starters back from an offense that averaged 40.2 points per game in 2012.
  • The Panthers will be shooting for their 16th consecutive playoff berth this season.

 

Lufkin’s KeKe Coutee. (© Christopher R. Vinn/www.etsn.fm)

Key matchup: Lufkin receivers vs. John Tyler secondary. It’s no secret that the strength of the Lufkin Panthers is their receiving corps, which features two major FCS commits in Coutee and Jeffery and another with a Houston offer in Mark. While the Panthers look to settle on a starting running back, the passing game should be in fine form with the return of those three receivers and the promising Cumbie at quarterback. Cumbie, a lefty, is taking over for the graduated Tyler Stubblefield, who passed for more than 3,500 yards and accounted for 48 touchdowns in 2012.

John Tyler’s Isaac Warren. (© Christopher R. Vinn/www.etsn.fm)

The John Tyler secondary could be a strength as well with Warren at corner and Ausborne protected the deep part of the field at safety. It goes without saying that JT’s defensive line must establish a steady pass rush, but the pressure will be on the Lions’ DBs to stick with what could be the most talented group of receivers in the state. If John Tyler can slow down Lufkin’s receivers and contain the big plays, it could take the pressure off a young offensive group making its season debut.

Don’t be surprised if: Lufkin applies heavy pressure on McCollister in the hopes of rattling the varsity newcomer. John Tyler had a difficult time running the football at times last season, so if Lufkin can make the Lions one-dimensional by forcing them to throw, the Panthers can call more blitzes.

The tide has turned from last season when Lufkin entered 2012′s season opener with several newcomers and JT had all the experience. The Lions’ veteran leadership ended up playing a big role in JT’s victory last year. Time will tell if that will once again be the case this Friday.

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