For the first time in October, the John Tyler Lions get to play in the Rose City.
While the Lions are looking forward to hosting a game at Christus Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium for just the third time this season, JT coach Ricklan Holmes said the Cujo fans make his team feel right at home no matter when they tee it up.
“When you have the fan following we have, along with the cheerleaders, Blue Brigade, the band and the Lion Guard, we always have the support needed,” Holmes said.
But playing on Earl Campbell Field is a treat, he said, especially against a rival like the Longview Lobos.
In a clash of East Texas titans, the Lions and Lobos will meet on Friday in Tyler. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
Every time JT (5-2, 3-1) and Longview (6-1, 3-1) get together, it is an event. This game is even more meaningful as the winner has the inside track to a playoff berth from District 11-6A.
Both clubs lost their district opener only to bounce back and win three straight. The winner of this game will stay in the hunt for the league championship.
This will be the 91st meeting between the two with the Lobos holding a 45-38-7 lead in the series that dates back to 1910.
The winner of Friday’s contest will have the inside track to the postseason with two games of the regular season remaining. Mesquite Horn is atop the district at 4-0, followed by Heath at 4-1. JT and Longview are tied for third at 3-1. Next up are Tyler Lee, North Mesquite and Rockwall at 1-3. Mesquite is 0-5.
Quarterback K’Lon Warren is projected to be back under center this week for JT. Devlen Woods came into the game last week to lead the Lions to the winning drive in a 37-33 win over Rockwall-Heath, handing the Hawks their first league loss.
Longview has the fourth-best offense in the district at 389.3 yards per game, while JT is sixth at 375.4. The Lions are tops in defense at 315.0, while the Lobos are second at 338.0.
Longview running back Keilyn Williams is seventh in the league with 475 yards rushing while JT’s Roderick Hawkins (449) and Cameron Grant (411) are ninth and 10th, respectively. However, Hawkins was on crutches last week, while Grant played his first game since September.
Lobo QB Haynes King, a sophomore, has thrown for 820 yards, eight touchdowns and four interceptions, while Woods has thrown for 800 yards, 10 TDs and three interceptions. JT’s K’Lon Warren, who has started the last two games, had thrown for 531 yards and nine TDs with two interceptions.
JT has a couple of standout receivers in Michael Givens-Washington (24 for 323 yards, 3 TDs) and Ke’Andre Street (23-568, 8 TDs). Street leads the district by averaging 24.7 yards per catch. His 32-yard grab from Woods last week set up a one-yard TD dash by Tre Allison for the game-winner.
Jalen Carr, of Longview, has five interceptions, while Givens-Washington has two.
LIONS TALES: JT returns to the road next week, traveling to Mesquite on Nov. 3 to meet the Mesquite Horn Jaguars at E.H. Hanby Stadium. … Longview will venture to Rockwall to meet Rockwall-Heath at Wilkerson-Sanders Memorial Stadium. … Both games have 7:30 p.m. kicks.