Those in attendance at John Tyler football games hear a familiar name from the public address announcer throughout the night.

The cousin duo of junior linebacker Richard Gipson and sophomore running back Reggie Gipson share not only a bloodline, but a valued place on the Lions squad.

Richard ranks first on the team in tackles (26). Reggie ran for a career-high 103 yards, scoring twice on just six carries in last week's 55-17 win over Nacogdoches.

"Hearing the name Gipson constantly, it makes me smile," Richard said. "We're always together. I'll pick him up some times. It's important for family to stay together and stay strong. We say we're 'cousins,' but we take the role as brothers. He's my little brother. I'm his big brother."

Only a year apart, the Gipsons grew up around one another, on and off the football field. 

"We've been playing all our lives together," Richard said of his second cousin. "It's good having a little cousin right behind me I can take under my wings and show some of the ropes. And he can help me sometimes on things I need to work on."

The two compliment and complement one another - Reggie with his game-changing agility, and Richard for his tackling ability.

"He used to ban me around a lot. That got me a lot tougher," said Reggie, whose father Reginald Gipson Sr. attended JT two years before playing point guard on Troup's 1993 state basketball champions and in 1994 for the Tigers' state finalist. "He watches out for me. I look up to him. He works hard on the field and gets a lot of tackles."

After missing the final two non-district games, Reggie rolled up154 yards of offense on eight touches -- five he turned into double-digit gains -- last week against Nacogdoches.

"His speed is awesome," Richard said of Reggie, who scored on a 56-yard run and also hauled in a 36-yard reception. "That's what coaches first notice. He's not the biggest, but his speed makes him stand out." 

Gipson gives the area's most explosive offense, averaging more than 461 yards and 40 points per game, yet another weapon. Six different JT backs have rushed for 50 yards or more, with 13 different Lions with pass receptions after five games. 

"Coach (Dereck) Rush said somebody has to have a breakout season," said Reggie, who splits his time in the backfield at the "B' position and in the slot at the 'A' spot. "Everybody has their own talent on the team. We have all-around players, good backs, receivers and linemen."

With JT's defensive starting over with nine first-year starters, Richard made an immediate impact in the season opener with 15 tackles and a forced fumble against Lufkin. Richard suffered an injury early in JT's game against Longview, leaving him sidelined until the district opener against Hallsville.

"The coaches prepared me the whole week," said Richard, whose father, Richard Gipson Sr., played linebacker at JT during the early 1990s. "I couldn't come out scared. I just strapped on the helmet and did whatever I had to do."

JT practiced on fine-tuning an attack starting to rev up for what they hope to be another long playoff run following an 0-3 start. JT (2-3, 2-0 in 14-4A) outscored its first two district opponents 120-23. The Lions play at winless Pine Tree (0-5, 0-2) on Friday, a team JT hammered 73-6 last year.

"The small things can be the key to winning or losing," Richard said. "We're focused on winning the district championship right now."

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