John Tyler Tops Longview In Tyler State Qualifying Tournament + Jacksonville Advances To State For First Time In School History
TYLER -- Bryson Smith got a small measure of revenge Saturday versus Longview's 7-on-7 team in the Tyler State Qualifying Tournament semifinals at Lindsey Park.
Smith threw for seven touchdowns and converted five of seven extra point conversions in John Tyler's 46-26 win against the Lobos to clinch a berth in next month's Division I state 7-on-7 tournament in College Station.
"It was good beating them here today, but they beat us last season during actual football," Smith said. "We still have a lot to work on before we get to them during the district season."
Longview handed Smith and the Lions a 31-14 loss during a non-district game last season. That defeat was Smith's second-ever start at quarterback.
Smith went on to build a 8-4 personal record.
The University Interscholastic League realigned the two longtime rivals into District 11-6A in February. There will be a lot more on the table when the sides re-meet Oct. 21 at Lobo Stadium.
Texas 7-on-7 -- exclusively a passing game -- features a 45-yard football field and two halves of 20 minutes each on a continuous clock.
In lieu of tackling, a defender that touches the ball carrier ends the play. Defensive stops simply give the corresponding offense a first down 45 yards from the end zone.
Joshua Lister almost turned the game in favor of Longview.
Down 20-12, Lister picked off Smith inside the final minute of the end of the first half. Intended receiver Kelly Williams fell down on the play, but the charging Lister made contact with Williams' body to stop an easy pick-six run.
Longview cut what became a 26-12 deficit early in the second half into a one-possession game with about 10 minutes remaining in the contest. Darian Fitts tucked away a one-yard toss from first-year quarterback Gaylon Wiley.
Damion Miller, a Texas receiver commitment, answered that score three plays later with an 18-yard touchdown catch from Smith.
John Tyler's defense forced a turnover on downs before Kieran Freeman pulled in a touchdown on the game's final play for the full margin of victory.
Freeman scored twice for the Lions. He also caught a one-point conversion to lead all receivers with 13 points.
"It's taken a lot of hard work," Freeman said. "We work every day. We have speed and power camp in the morning and then 7-on-7 practice in the evening. It's just hard work to get to this place."
Wiley threw three touchdowns in the game, threw a one-point conversion and connected on a two-point conversion attempt. Eric Timberlake caught two of the touchdowns, including a 45-yard reception.
College and high school coaches alike frequently praise the Texas 7-on-7 setup because it's an opportunity for skill position players to get together during the summer vacation period. The competitions are particularly beneficial for quarterbacks, receivers and defensive backs.
Once in College Station for the 64-team state tournament, Smith and the rest of the Lions team will play three randomly selected teams of similar size from across the state in pool play.
A top-two finish in the pool will advance John Tyler to the championship bracket of competition while a third or fourth-place pool finish would knock it into the consolation bracket.
Either way, the Lions will play no less than four more 7-on-7 games and up to nine contests should they advance all the way to either the 7-on-7 state championship game or the consolation bracket's championship.
"I mean, 7-on-7 and actual football are different," Smith said. "But, as far as me and the receivers, it helps get the timing down and delivering the ball. We get a lot of extra time to run our routes and everything else."
Jacksonville Edges Trinity Christian-Addison
Jacksonville's football program has a lot of historical significance, but it has never been to a state 7-on-7 tournament.
That's going to change July 8.
The Indians held off Trinity Christian-Addison for a 33-32 semifinal round win -- while John Tyler simultaneously played Longview -- at the Tyler State Qualifying Tournament and punched their own ticket to College Station with the victory.
John Tyler and Jacksonville opted not to face each other in a meaningless championship game.
"You want your hard work to be rewarded," second-year head coach Wayne Coleman said after the win. "It's a grind for these kids. Football has turned into a year-round event. If you don't get a chance to feel excited every now and then -- Jacksonville hasn't in a long time -- this really boosts our morale, and I think it will boost our work ethic for the rest of the summer."
Coleman was just a fan Saturday.
Per University Interscholastic League rules, high school coaches are barred from coaching their school's 7-on-7 teams. Parents or community leaders lead the summer teams.
Jacksonville went 2-8 last year. The program's last playoff appearance was in 2012.
"This is a whole lot better," second-year starting quarterback Cameron High said. "We're used to the coaches and enjoy the coaching. Last year, our heads weren't on straight. We weren't as much a team last year. We think we'll be pretty good this year."
High's squad, like all the other schools competing in District 17-5A, are going to benefit from the UIL's most recent realignment. The governing body removed John Tyler and Lufkin from the formerly eight-team league due to growing student populations and did not replace those schools.
John Tyler and Lufkin finished first and second in the district standings last season.
This year, the six remaining league teams will fight for four playoff spots. At least two teams that didn't make the postseason last campaign will this season.
"The main thing has been improving effort and attitude," Coleman said. "The kids have come a long way in a year. You start from that zero base and then after a year, it's like, 'Whoosh.' Way up there. We feel really good about the kids."
Tyler State Qualifying Tournament Results
- Trinity Christian-Addison (TCA), 39, Mt. Pleasant 13
- College Station* 44, Tyler Lee 12
- College Station 46, TCA 40
- Mt. Pleasant 20, Tyler Lee 18
- College Station 34, Mt. Pleasant 13
- TCA 46, Tyler Lee 18
- Lufkin* 33, Jacksonville 20
- Forney 44, Pine Tree 14
- Lufkin 40, Forney 20
- Jacksonville 45, Pine Tree 20
- Jacksonville 32, Forney 27
- Lufkin 39, Pine Tree 6
- Lindale 53, Tyler Lee JV 0
- Longview 18, Whitehouse 14
- Longview 64, Tyler Lee JV 6
- Whitehouse 43, Lindale 21
- Whitehouse 54, Tyler Lee JV 6
- Longview 30, Lindale 21
- John Tyler 48, Nacogdoches 13
- Crosby 38, Whitehouse JV 33
- Crosby 28, Nacogdoches 12
- John Tyler 54, Whitehouse JV 7
- Nacogdoches 20, Whitehouse JV 15
- John Tyler 37, Crosby 14
- John Tyler 46, Longview 26
- Jacksonville 33, TCA 32