The high school football drought is about to come to an end.

Not since December when the final championship games concluded have the prep pigskiners been on the field.

That changes Thursday night as the 11th annual Trinity Mother Frances Football Classic begins. It will have four games in three days on Earl Campbell Field at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium.

The eight teams involved have won 15 state championships.

The first game of the TMF Football Classic will feature Gilmer and Liberty-Eylau at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. The Buckeyes, who won state titles in 2004 and 2009, are among the favorites to win the Class 4A, Division II state championship. The Leopards have won two state titles — 1999 and 2006.

The second game of the Classic is Friday and will feature Plano and co-host John Tyler at 7:30 p.m. John Tyler starts the season No. 8 in Class 5A.

The Lions have won three state championships (1930, 1973, 1994), while Plano has captured seven crowns (1965, 1967, 1971, 1977, 1986, 1987, 1994).

The third game of the Classic will match Grand Saline and Frankston at 11 a.m. Saturday. In a matchup of Indians, this is the first meeting between the two schools.

In the finale of the Classic on Saturday, Keller Fossil Ridge will meet co-host Robert E. Lee at 7:30 p.m. The Red Raiders are shooting for back-to-back Classic wins, while Fossil Ridge won nine games last season.

REL won a state championship in 2004.

The Trinity Mother Frances Football Classic was created by TITUS Sports Marketing, which provides sales and marketing assistance to Tyler ISD. The rich history of the Classic is loaded with state champions, as seven of 10 times since the event’s inception in 2004, one of the participants ended its season with a state championship.

Reserved tickets to the TMF Football Classic for Robert E. Lee and John Tyler high schools are available at the Tyler ISD Athletic Office. Each of the other six high schools have tickets available at their respective schools.

All tickets sold are good for admission for the other two games in the Classic. Tickets are $10.

For more information, please contact the Tyler ISD Athletic Office at 903-262-3080.

Tickets may be purchased at the Athletic Office at the Plyler Complex, 807 W. Glenwood through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Friday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Other outlets are T&T Lewis, 903 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. during regular business hours and at Tyler Athletics, 5520 Old Jacksonville Highway (business hours, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Friday; and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday).

Students and faculty may purchase tickets at John Tyler and Robert E. Lee high schools.

The Buckeyes, ranked No. 8 in the preseason Class 4A poll, love to play at Rose Stadium. They have an 11-game winning streak in Tyler. Also, opening weekend has been good to Gilmer as the Buckeyes have a 12-game season-opening win streak (last loss 20-14 to Gladewater in 2001).

Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor, who is entering his 15th season as head coach of the East Texas powerhouse, is 13-1 in season openers.

The Buckeyes have beaten the Leopards six straight times. L-E has a new coach in Steve Wells.

Gilmer was 11-2 last year, while L-E was 6-5.

Joe Dodd of the Gilmer Mirror contributed to this report as did Joe Lee Smith’s


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Sports Editor

I am a native Tylerite and I grew up reading the Tyler Morning Telegraph and The Tyler Courier-Times. My parents took both the morning and afternoon papers. I came to work here 35 years ago at the age of 23, right after college.