PREVIEW: John Tyler Closes Out Non-District At Rival Lufkin
John Tyler Lions (2-0)
Lufkin Panthers (1-1)
7:30 p.m. Friday
Abe Martin Stadium, Lufkin
- John Tyler: Ricklan Holmes
- Lufkin: Todd Quick
- John Tyler: at Rockwall, Sept. 22
- Lufkin: vs. Monterrey (Mexico) Tech, Sept. 22
- DL DeKalen Goodson, Sr., 6-3, 215 (15 tackles, 4 for loss, 2 QB pressures; committed to Houston)
- RB Cameron Grant, Jr., 5-9, 175 (32 carries, 291 yards, 2 TDs)
- LB Tre Allison, Sr., 6-2, 220 (19 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 PBU; committed to SMU)
- OL Chance Billington, Jr., 6-3, 180 (committed to SMU)
- QB Devlen Woods, Jr., 5-8, 165 (18 of 31, 281 yards, 6 TDs, 1 INT; 17 carries, 86 yards)
- WR Ke'Andre Street, Jr., 6-4, 195 (7 catches, 151 yards, 3 TDs)
- WR Michael Givens-Washington, Sr., 5-8, 165 (5 catches, 42 yards)
- RB Roderick Hawkins, Jr., 5-8, 190 (11 carries, 147 yards, 1 TD; 2 catches, 29 yards, 1 TD)
- WR Malik Jackson, Sr., 6-0, 170 (15 catches, 113 yards, 0 TDs; 2 carries, 39 yards, 1 TD; committed to Houston)
- WR/DL Breylon Garcia, Jr., 6-4, 210 (5 catches, 64 yards, 0 TDs)
- DL Carl Williams, Jr., 6-4, 288
- DB Jeremiah Davis, Sr., 6-0, 180 (committed to Louisiana-Lafayette)
- DB Savon Fields, Sr., 5-9, 168
- WR Ja'Lynn Polk, Soph., 6-2, 175 (7 catches, 107 yards, 0 TDs)
- OL Hunter Hollis, Sr., 6-3, 295
- RB Isaiah Phillips, Sr., 5-9, 185 (46 carries, 319 yards, 5 TDs; 1 catch, 11 yards)
Just the facts
- This is the 58th all-time meeting between John Tyler and Lufkin. John Tyler leads the series, 29-25-3.
- The last meeting between JT and Lufkin occurred in the first round of the 2016 playoffs, a thrilling 50-49 John Tyler win.
- John Tyler is averaging 38 points and 453 yards through two games -- 305.5 rushing and 147.5 passing.
- The Lions only ran 45 plays from scrimmage in last week's win over Ennis, and averaged 5.5 yards per snap.
- John Tyler has begun a season 3-0 just once since 2012.
- Lufkin is averaging 30.5 points and 416.5 yards through two games -- 209.5 rushing and 207 passing.
- Panthers senior running back Isaiah Phillips is averaging 6.9 yards per carry and has scored five of Lufkin's eight offensive touchdowns.
- Lufkin is the only team in District 12-6A to have played two games so far, while three teams -- Beaumont West Brook, Conroe, and The Woodlands -- have yet to play because of Hurricane Harvey.
Key matchup: Lufkin rushing attack vs. John Tyler defensive front. Through two games of the season, there's one thing Lufkin has done especially well, and that's run the football. Senior running back Isaiah Phillips, in his first season as the featured back, has gotten off to a fast start with more than 300 yards and five touchdowns in games against Longview and Nacogdoches. It has helped smooth the transition at quarterback from Kordell Rodgers to new signal-caller, junior Kewone Thomas.
If Lufkin is able to establish its running game, the Panthers should be able to maximize their full capabilities on offense. The receiving corps is full of playmakers, led by the senior slot receiver Malik Jackson, who has committed to Houston. With junior Breylon Garcia and sophomore Ja'Lynn Polk on the outside, Lufkin has the potential to be very explosive on offense.
John Tyler must find a way to slow down Lufkin's running game by holding up on first and second down. Ennis was able to roll up more than 270 rushing yards on the Lions' defense last week, but Lufkin will come at JT much differently. Ennis lined up in several two- and three-tight end formations with multiple backs, while Lufkin operates almost exclusively out of the spread.
Don't be surprised if: Friday's game turns into a shootout. Both John Tyler and Lufkin are breaking in new quarterbacks this season, and each of them are showing signs of improvement in the early going. JT junior Devlen Woods passed for four touchdowns in last week's win, helping the Lions overcome a disappointing performance on the ground. Meanwhile, Thomas completed 20 of 26 attempts for 258 yards, including his first touchdown pass of the season in Lufkin's win over Nacogdoches. He also added 28 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Improved quarterback play coupled with dynamic players both in the backfield and at receiver could mean both John Tyler and Lufkin are primed for big nights on offense.