Kevin Kelley has garnered national attention for his coaching style.
His team doesn’t punt. They don’t field punts, either. They also onside kick after each score.
Kelley’s Pulaski Academy Bruins — from Little Rock, Arkansas — will bring that innovative style of football to Tyler on Friday to take on the Tyler Legacy Red Raiders at 6 p.m. from Christus Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium.
“We had reached out to several schools that were openly looking for games out of the Metroplex,” Legacy head football coach Joe Willis said. “We heard back from a couple, but most had said they would probably just take the week off and use it as a bye week. It was getting to the 11th hour on Saturday afternoon, and Kevin texted me. We were trying to find someone to come to our place, and they agreed to come here. Knowing their reputation and their unorthodox style of play, it’s an opportunity to teach the game and teach some of the analytics, probabilities. It will also give us a chance to work on our special teams, where we are well behind because of the setup this season.”
Willis said Nick Walters, who is a sports reporter for the NBC/FOX affiliate in Little Rock, played for him at Colleyville Heritage and passed his number along to Kelley.
The Red Raiders were originally set to take on perennial powerhouse Allen, but the game was canceled due to COVID-19.
Legacy quickly found another game with a powerhouse from out of state. Pulaski has won eight state titles — five since 2014. The Bruins won four straight championships from 2014-17 and then again in 2019.
“I told the kids that I have a rule that I don’t schedule teams in non-district that don’t have a state championship on their résumé,” Willis said. “We lost Allen who has won several, but we picked up this game against a high-level program with a championship pedigree.”
The Bruins are 6-0 this season and are coming off of a 49-28 win over White Hall.
This will be Pulaski’s third out-of-state opponent this season. The Bruins won 37-29 over Ravenwood (Tennessee) and 31-20 against Life Christian Academy (Virginia).
Pulaski is averaging 45.3 points per game.
The Bruins have two quarterbacks — Charlie Fiser and Nolen Bruffett — who have combined to throw for more than 2,000 yards.
Running back Joseph Himon II is a three-star junior with offers from Arkansas State, Kansas, Memphis, SMU and New Mexico.
“Our kids are up to the challenge,” Willis said. “It will be a chance for us to go work on us and polish some things, as much as anything. It will also give our kids and fans a look at a different opponent and a different style. It will be a fun environment.”
Legacy (2-1) was averaging 55 points per game before a 37-14 loss to Longview.
Following this game, the Red Raiders will have a bye before hosting Dallas Skyline to open District 10-6A play on Oct. 30.
NOTES: This game is dubbed the “ArkanTex Bowl.” … It will also be Teacher and Staff Appreciation Night … Notable alumni from Pulaski are Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry and Evanescence lead singer Amy Lee … Kelley was the 2016 USA Today National Coach of the Year, and he has been featured by HBO Real Sports, ESPN, NFL films, Time Magazine and the New York Times. He also appeared on National Geographic’s “Brain Games.”
TICKETS: Tickets are sold online only at tylerisd.brushfire.com. There will be no cash sales at the gate. If there are tickets still available, a QR Code will be available at the gate to purchase tickets online. A total of 1,500 tickets will be sold for the home side and 2,100 for the visitor’s side.