John Tyler's 2013 season full of ups and downs

John Tyler junior quarterback Geovari McCollister (3) led the Lions offense with 2,605 passing yards and 841 rushing yards in 2013. (Sarah A. Miller | Tyler Morning Telegraph)

John Tyler went into the 2013 season aiming to maintain the level of success the Lions had set the previous two years, during which JT went to two straight state semifinals and sent a slew of prospects to the NCAA Division I level.

While the Lions failed to live up to those lofty standards, the team provided plenty of highlights during a 7-4 season that should leave second-year coach Ricklan Holmes confident heading into the 2014 season.

"It ended 7-4," Holmes said on how he'll look back on 2013. "I think we had a lot of success in certain areas but there's a lot of stuff we need to work on to win a state championship."

John Tyler entered the 2013 season having to replace a plethora of stars on both sides of the ball. After losing the season opener against Lufkin, the Lions won seven of their next eight games.

A failed two-point conversion in the final minute cost JT a shot at a fifth straight district title in a 55-54 loss to Whitehouse a week before a humbling 35-14 defeat to Mansfield Legacy in the Class 4A Division I bi-district playoffs.

Those two losses cost the Lions their second and third goals for the season, district and state titles. They did accomplished their first goal of a city championship with a 44-0 demolition of Robert E. Lee that ensured bragging rights for another year despite the lack of the long playoff run Cujo fans have grown accustomed to in recent years.

"Next year I hope to win a district championship and state championship," Holmes said.

Despite finding new players to fill in at most of the skill positions, the 2013 Lions didn't suffer a large dip in offensive production. JT averaged 421.5 yards per game compared to 446.5 a year ago.

Junior Geovari McCollister took over the quarterback position for Greg Ward and turned in a strong first season behind center. McCollister threw for 2,605 yards and led the team in rushing with 841 yards. McCollister was precise, completing 65 percent of his passes with six interceptions compared to 22 touchdowns.

McCollister was aided by a bevy of playmakers, most of whom were receiving their first significant varsity minutes. Only senior Reggie Gipson played a major role on the 2012 offense and he led the 2013 team with 16 touchdowns despite missing the final three games to injury.

While former stars like Fred Ross and Darion Flowers were making plays on Saturdays, Nick Cain became McCollister's favorite target. Cain was one of the area's top receivers, hauling in 54 passes for 894 yards and seven touchdowns. With his runs and passes (he was the backup quarterback), Cain amassed 1,116 total yards.

Jeremy Wilson was a threat in the running and passing game, splitting 830 total yards fairly evenly between the two phases. Duntayviun Gross had a stellar first year on varsity, finishing second on the team in receiving with 44 grabs for 520 yards.

Gross, along with fellow sophomores Quaylan Brown and Ka'Darius Henderson will likely see their influence on the team grow even more in the coming years.

Of those skill players, only Gipson will graduate, leaving a void at running back (backup Dyran McDuff is also a senior). Wilson showed he can play the position after Gipson went down and Brown averaged 6.9 yards per rush in limited action, so Holmes will have options.

Defensively, Terry Ausborne was the star, leading the team in tackles and, for the second straight year, interceptions. He'll graduate along with defensive standouts such as defensive end Darius Amie (team-high six sacks), defensive back Jordan Caldwell and linebacker Andrew Clark, all in the top six on the team in tackles.

The defensive line will, however, welcome back linemen Braylon Jones, the second-leading tackler and a huge presence as a sophomore, and Josh Williams, a junior who came on strong late in the season with five sacks.

Like the offense, the Lions ‘D' dipped slightly (341.5 yards per game allowed compared to 329.5 in 2012), but not precipitously. The major difference between the two years, statistically, was the turnover differential. JT had a massive plus-23 ratio in 2013 compared to this year's plus-nine, a good but not great number.

In all, JT graduates 25 seniors. The Lions bring back 37 players from the playoff roster, including about 80 percent of their offense.

John Tyler unfortunately played its worst game of the season, at least statistically, in the bi-district playoffs. When that happens, playoff runs end quickly.

The Lions were held to a season low in yardage (263) and points (14) against the Broncos while allowing a season-high 522 yards. Holmes said he won't dwell on the loss as JT looks toward the offseason.

"You can't go into an offseason on a loss," Holmes said. "Just like with (Denton) Guyer last year, we went into the offseason and we totally forgot about Guyer. It was going into the 2013 season that we had to get ready for. That's the same thing I'm going to keep telling these kids: Let's get ready for 2014."

Though John Tyler remained one of the better teams in East Texas — its only loss to a Class 4A school in the area coming to third-ranked and currently unbeaten Whitehouse — Holmes and the Lions wanted more in continuing the high levels of success they've seen in recent years.

Following the season-ending loss to Legacy, Holmes said one of his tasks for the offseason is to take his talented athletes and mold them into knowledgeable, all-around football players.

"With the guys we got coming back, it's not the talent we've got coming back, I've got to have football players coming back," Holmes said. "They've got to understand the game and they've got to know exactly what they need to do every single day every single night.

"We're going to go into our offseason, we're going to work hard. … We're going to come back stronger than we were this year."

 

John Tyler Rewind

Final Standing: 7-4, 4-1 in District 16-4A, reached bi-district playoffs

Biggest Win: John Tyler 44, Robert E. Lee 0. The Red Raiders came into the annual grudge match on a high after starting the year 2-0, but the Lions laid a thumping on their rival, taking advantage of a plethora of turnovers to build a 31-0 lead by halftime. JT held Lee to 216 total yards while racking up 439. It was the Lions' third-largest victory over their cross-town foe.

Toughest Loss: No. 3 Whitehouse 55, John Tyler 54. While the 52-28 setback to Lufkin to start the year and the 35-14 loss to Mansfield Legacy to end the season may have been the more lopsided, losing by one point to Smith County rival Whitehouse will be the one that sticks with John Tyler the most. The Lions failed on a go-ahead two-point conversion in the final minute as the No. 3 Wildcats stayed unbeaten on the year and claimed the District 16-4A title, the first time in five years JT failed to win a league championship. It was Whitehouse's first ever win over John Tyler.

Final Verdict: The Lions exhibited the qualities that made them successful in two straight runs to the state semifinals, with an offense and defense that at times were dominant. However, with the loss to Whitehouse and early playoff exit, the Lions did not live up to the standards they set for themselves. Seven wins and a playoff berth will cut it for some programs, but coach Ricklan Holmes and John Tyler expect more.

 

John Tyler 2013 Football Stats

Scores

Non-District

Lufkin 52, John Tyler 28

John Tyler 31, Lancaster 28

John Tyler 44, Robert E. Lee 0

Mesquite Horn 47, John Tyler 17

John Tyler 51, UANL 14

District 16-4A

John Tyler 51, Corsicana 22

John Tyler 49, Lindale 17

John Tyler 43, Jacksonville 30

John Tyler 37, Nacogdoches 14

Whitehouse 55, John Tyler 54

Playoffs

Mansfield Legacy 35, John Tyler 14

Score By Quarters

    1st    2nd    3rd    4th       OT        Tot.

Opponents    85    82    99    48    0    —    314

JOHN TYLER    84    129    93    113    0    —    419

———

Team Statistics

Scoring

    JT    Opp.

Rushing    198    120

Passing    132    90

PAT    44    25

FG    33    18

Defense/Special Teams    6    16

2 Pt Conversion    6    6

Total    419    279

———

First Downs

    JT     Opp.

Total    237    212

———

Third Down Conversions

JOHN TYLER    36%

Opponents    37%

Fourth Down Conversions

JOHN TYLER    68%

Opponents    47%

Field Goals Made/Attempted

JOHN TYLER    11-13 (85%)

Opponents    6-7 (86%)

———

PATs Made/Attempted

JOHN TYLER    44-52 (85%)

Opponents    34-37 (92%)

Team Yardage

Rushing

JOHN TYLER    1992 (181.1)

Opponents    2220 (201.8)

Passing

JOHN TYLER    2644 (240.4)

Opponents    1536 (139.6)

Total Yards

JOHN TYLER     4636 (421.5)

Opponents    3756 (341.5)

Punts-Avg.

JOHN TYLER    37-1421 (38.4)

Opponents    50-1766 (35.3)

Fumbles-Lost

JOHN TYLER    19-9

Opponents    16-11

Interceptions Thrown

JOHN TYLER    6

Opponents    12

Turnover Ratio

JOHN TYLER    +9

Penalties-Yards

JOHN TYLER    92-761                                                                 

Opponents    69-614

———

Individual Statistics

Rushing

Player    No.    Yds.    Avg.    TD    Lg.

Geovari McCollister    200    841    4.2    10    84t

Jeremy Wilson    41    442    10.8    7    86t

Reggie Gipson    87    379    4.4    11    48t

Nick Cain    19    183    9.6    3    71t

Dyran McDuff    37    131    3.5    2    37

Quaylan Brown    11    76    6.9    0    25

Duntayviun Gross    4    17    4.3    0    10

Terry Ausborne    1    12    12.0    0    12

Andre Crawford    1    1    1.0    0    1

Tedric Attaway    1    -2    -2.0    0    -2

Ka'Darius Henderson    2    -4    -2.0    0    1

Luis Duran    5    -84    -16.8    0    -6

Totals    409    1992    4.9    33    86t

———

Passing

Player    Co.    Att.    Int.    Yds.    TD    Lg.

Geo. McCollister    176    270    6    2605    22    77t

Nick Cain    3    4    0    39    0    29

Totals    179    274    6    2644    22    77t

———

Receiving

Player    No.    Yds.    Avg.    TD    Lg.

Nick Cain    54    894    16.6    7    73t

Duntayviun Gross    44    520    11.8    2    46

Rodney Bendy    28    360    12.9    4    32t

Reggie Gipson    24    393    16.4    5    77t

Jeremy Wilson    22    388    17.6    3    54

Andre Crawford    4    32    8.0    0    13

Quaylan Brown    2    28    14.0    1    20t

Robby Washington    1    29    29.9    0    29

Totals    179    2644    14.8    22    77t

———

Punting

Player    No.    Yds.    Avg.    N20    BK    Lg.

Luis Duran    37    1421    38.4    14    1    76

Totals    37    1421    38.4    14    1    76

———

Kicking

Player    XPM/A    FGM/A    TB    Lg.

Jose Perez    44-52    11-13    0    0

Luis Duran    0-0    0-0    7    70

Totals    44-52    11-13    7    70    

———

Kickoff Returns

Player    No.    Yds.    Avg.    TD    Lg.

Duntayviun Gross    9    184    18.7    0    40

Jeremy Wilson    4    120    3.0    0    73

Reggie Gipson    4    103    25.8    0    61

Quaylan Brown    7    86    12.3    0    17

Ka'Darius Henderson    3    56    18.7    0    30

Nick Cain    5    40    8.0    0    20

Terry Ausborne    2    26    13.0    0    18

Bryston Gipson    1    25    25.0    0    25

Isaac Warren    2    20    10.0    0    15

Jordan Caldwell    1    3    3.0    0    3

Totals    38    663    17.5    0    73

———

Defensive Stats

Fumble Recoveries

Player    No.    TD    

Darius Amie    2    0

Braylon Jones    2    0

Malik Hubbard    1    0

Ka'Darius Henderson    1    0

Jaylon Reese    1    0

Bryston Gipson    1    0

Jassavia Reese    1    0

Jordan Caldwell    1    0

Andrew Clark    1    0

Totals    11    0    

———

Interceptions

Player    No.    TD

Terry Ausborne    5    1

Greg Johnson    2    0

Isaac Warren    1    0

Jaylon Reese    1    0

Tony Johnson    1    0

Bryston Gipson    1    0

Jordan Caldwell    1    0

Totals    12    1

———

Sacks

Player    No.

Darius Amie    6.0    

Josh Williams    4.5

Braylon Jones    2.5

Jassavia Reese    1.0

Malik Hubbard    1.0

Totals    15.0

———

Tackles

Player    TOT    TFL    SAC    QBP    PBU    FF

Terry Ausborne    82    0    0    1    6    0

Braylon Jones    61    8    2.5    0    1    0

Darius Amie    49    8    6    0    1    2

Jassavia Reese    39    0    1    0    0    1

Jordan Caldwell    36    0    0    0    0    0

Andrew Clark    31    0    0    0    0    0

Isaac Warren    28    0    0    1    8    1

Jaylon Reese    28    0    0    0    0    0

Josh Williams    27    5    4.5    0    0    0

Travaughn Moore    23    1    0    2    0    0

Bryston Gipson    21    1    0    0    3    0

Greg Johnson    19    0    0    0    0    0

Malik Hubbard    11    1    1    0    0    1

Quaylan Brown    9    0    0    0    0    0

Justin Session    9    0    0    0    0    0

Tony Johnson    9    0    0    0    0    0

Robbie Washington    8    0    0    0    0    0

Jalen Jones    6    0    0    0    0    0

Otis McMillan    4    0    0    1    0    0

Ka'Darius Henderson    4    0    0    0    0    0

Prince Mack    3    0    0    0    0    0

Brycton Crawford    2    0    0    0    0    0

Andre Crawford    1    0    0    0    0    1

Luis Duran    1    0    0    0    0    0

Michael Bledsoe    1    0    0    0    0    0

DeAndre Benson    1    0    0    0    0    0

———

Scoring

Player    TD    FG    PAT    2PT    Tot.

Reggie Gipson    16    0    0    1    98

Jose Perez    0    11    44    0    77

Jeremy Wilson    10    0    0    1    62

Geovari McCollister    10    0    0    1    62

Nick Cain    10    0    0    0    60

Rodney Bendy    4    0    0    0    24

Duntayviun Gross    2    0    0    0    12

Dyran McDuff    2    0    0    0    12

Terry Ausborne    1    0    0    0    6

Quaylan Brown    1    0    0    0    6

Totals    56    11    44    3    419

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