John Tyler and Lufkin have been playing each other since 1914.

Only one of the prior 71 meetings took place in the postseason.

After Friday, it'll be two out of 72.

John Tyler welcomes Lufkin to Christus Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium for a Class 6A Division II bi-district playoff at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

The Lions hold a 38-30-3 advantage in the all-time series with the Panthers (28-25-3 since 1958 as John Tyler). However Lufkin won the lone playoff game between the two, 33-7 in 1946 after Tyler had won 7-6 in the regular season.

This year, the Lions (9-1) shared the District 11-6A championship with Longview but won the No. 1 seed and a right to host the bi-district game via its head-to-head win over the Lobos, who are traveling to play Beaumont West Brook on Friday.

The Panthers (7-3) finished third in 12-6A behind unbeaten The Woodlands and one-loss West Brook.

Friday's winner faces either Dallas Jesuit or Garland Naaman Forest next week in the area round.

John Tyler enters the postseason with a 9-1 record for the first time since 2012, when the Lions reached the Class 5A Division I state semifinals on a team led by the likes of Greg Ward and Tyus Bowser. JT also went 9-1 in the regular season in 2009 and 2010 before finishing 12-2 each time.

The Lions have led by at least 17 points in every game this year, excluding a 20-14 win over Mesquite. That includes the loss to Rockwall, in which the Yellowjackets rallied in the second half to win 59-58 on a last-minute, two-point conversion.

It was a loss that stuck with the Lions, who dominated the remainder of the district schedule, allowing a 3.5 points per game in the second half since the loss in which they allowed 39 second-half points.

"That's all we needed was that one game to know what a loss feels like and to know that we can't get the big head just because we're the best team out here," JT senior captain Shaundrick Williams said. "You can't because everybody is out to beat us. Nobody is our friend out here."

Of all of JT's prior opponents, coach Ricklan Holmes said the one that's most similar to Lufkin is Rockwall, which found a way to win despite being outgained 725-487.

"The way that they run their offense, the way their defense plays it reminds me a lot of them," Holmes said. "We just can't have the mistakes we had in that game moving forward to this game Friday."

Despite finishing third in its district, Lufkin will have plenty of confidence heading into the postseason. The Panthers' three losses came to teams with a combined two losses.

Lufkin lost 69-54 to Bossier City Parkway (La.) in the Battle on the Border at the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana, played right after John Tyler beat New Orleans Warren Easton (La.). The Panthers also lost 63-42 to No. 4 The Woodlands and 70-63 to West Brook.

"They can put points on the board but that also lets you know the defense has given up some points and I think that's one thing we're going to have to capitalize on," Holmes said.

As the scores indicate, Lufkin's offense has been flying high this year.

The Panthers average 471.6 yards and 43.4 points per game, much of it from the arm of senior quarterback Kordell Rodgers. The Texas State commit has thrown for 3,103 yards with 30 touchdowns and two interceptions.

"That kid is very, very talented," Holmes said of Rodgers. "We've played against him before; we know how he played last year. I see that he's playing better this year."

Rodgers has plenty of talent around him in receivers Dhailon Phillips (1,016 yards) and Malik Jackson (922) along with running back Kahlil Brown (830 yards, 16 TDs). Rodgers also has eight touchdowns to go with 280 yards rushing.

Last year against John Tyler, Rodgers threw for 224 yards and three TDs but was just as lethal with his legs, scrambling for 104 yards and a score.

However, Lions quarterback Bryson Smith made the decisive plays down the stretch. Smith took off for a 50-yard touchdown run to put JT up 41-31 with 2:46 to play on the way to a 41-38 victory.

Smith had 350 total yards of offense in that game and this year he's averaging 361.1 per game while accounting for 41 touchdowns.

He'll be going up against a Lufkin defense that allows 442.5 yards and 34.1 points per game. In contrast, the JT defense allows 339.4 yards and 19.5 points per game.

"I don't think they really have an answer for Bryson - I don't think anybody has an answer for Bryson right now," Holmes said. "We're going to have to make sure we keep him in the pocket, keep him protected and if things break down we know we can rely on him to get us out of a jam."

Like Rodgers, Smith has a number of receivers he can call upon, including Damion Miller (29-693), Devlen Woods (35-443) and Michael Givens-Washington (33-542). He also has a quality running back in Cameron Grant (121-779), who will continue to get most of the carries while Justin Samples still works his way back from injury.

Last year's meeting between these two, played for a statewide audience with Fox Sports Southwest at Abe Martin Stadium for the Dairy Queen Game of the Week, was emblematic of recent JT-Lufkin affairs.

The two have played each year since 2008 and in the eight games both teams have won four times, with the average margin of victory a single touchdown. The most recent two meetings were district games, with JT winning both by a total of five points, including winning 26-24 on a last-second field goal by Luis Duran in 2014.

Holmes himself recalls "knock-down, drag-out" affairs when he played Lufkin as a player in the 1990s. Those were district games back then. This being the playoffs, the stakes are raised even higher.

"Now that the regular season is over where there are no more games on the schedule, they know that moving forward it's win or go home," Holmes said. "And a lot of my guys are not ready to go home yet.

"We've got destiny right here in our hands. We've just got to be willing to close our fingers together and hold onto it."

TWITTER: @TYoestingETFS

 

Lufkin Panthers at John Tyler Lions

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Earl Campbell Field at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium, Tyler

Radio: KTBB NewsTalk 97.5-FM/AM-600, Tyler

Records: Lufkin - 7-3; John Tyler - 9-1.

Last Week's Results: Lufkin 40, Montgomery 21; John Tyler 49, Robert E. Lee 28.

2015 Result: John Tyler 41, Lufkin 38.

All-Time Series: John Tyler 28-25-3 (38-30-3 as Tyler High).

Players to Watch: Lufkin - QB Kordell Rodgers (6-0, Sr.), WR Dhailon Phillips (6-3, 195, Sr.), LB Torrand Grisby (5-10, 200, Sr.). John Tyler - LB Shaundrick Williams (5-11, 220, Sr.), QB Bryson Smith (6-0, 175, Sr.), Dekalen Goodson (6-3, 215, Jr.).

Quick Slant: This game features two longtime rivals who come in with loads of talent on the offensive side of the ball. Both teams average near 500 yards per game and over 43 points per game. However the teams go about the offense in different ways. Lufkin gains most of its yards through the air, with Rodgers (199-307 for 3,103 yards passing, 30 TD, 2 INT) completing 65 percent of his passes, most going to Phillips (61-1,016, 9 TDs) and Malik Jackson (44-922, 9 TDs). John Tyler has been nearly 50-50 in rushing and passing, averaging 258.7 yards on the ground and 241.0 through the air. Bryson Smith (2,371 pass, 1,240 rush) is the quintessential dual threat. Defensively, JT holds the edge, at least statistically. The Lions allow 19.5 points and 339.4 yards per game compared to 34.1 and 442.5 for the Panthers. Williams has 77 tackles and five sacks as John Tyler's defensive captain and Goodson has a team-high 11 sacks. Both will be key to slowing down Rodgers. For the Lufkin defense, Grisby leads the Panthers with 107 tackles to go with four sacks, six tackles for loss and two fumble recoveries.

Quotable: "Playing them as district opponents for the past couple of years and knowing what they bring to the table, they're very athletic, very well coached football team by coach (Todd) Quick. Quarterback and a couple receivers are really good playmakers. We've got to make sure we keep those guys in check. We know we're not going to be able to stop them. It is what it is. They're too good just to stop them. We've got to be able to slow them down and capitalize on their mistakes and use that to our advantage." - JT coach Ricklan Holmes.

Stadium Address: Christus Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium (11,500) - 700 Fair Park Drive, Tyler.

Next Up: Winner vs. Dallas Jesuit-Garland Naaman Forest winner, TBD (tentatively 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19, Mesquite Memorial Stadium).

 

John Tyler vs. Lufkin At A Glance

Stat Comparison

                                                John Tyler              Lufkin

Scoring Offense                 44.0                           43.4

Total Offense                      499.7                        471.6

Rushing Offense               258.7                        156.7

Passing Offense                241.0                        314.9

Scoring Defense                19.5                           34.1

Total Defense                     339.4                        442.5

Rushing Defense              163.2                        242.6

Passing Defense               176.2                        199.9

First Downs Gained         241                            221

First Downs Allowed       173                            210

Interceptions Thrown     6                                2

Interceptions Caught     7                                7

Fumbles-Lost                     13-3                          14-9

Fumbles-Recovered         28-11                        15-8

Penalties-Yards                 91-729                      66-534

 

All-time Series

John Tyler leads all-time series 28-25-3

Including Tyler High, Tyler leads 38-30-3

 

Recent Meetings

2015: John Tyler 41, Lufkin 38*

2014: John Tyler 26, Lufkin 24*

2013: Lufkin 52, John Tyler 28

2012: John Tyler 35, Lufkin 21

2011: Lufkin 34, John Tyler 31

2010: Lufkin 17, John Tyler 14

2009: John Tyler 27, Lufkin 18

2008: Lufkin 13, John Tyler 12

* — District game

 

Series History Notes

First meeting: 1914: Tyler won 12-7

Only previous playoff game: 1946: Lufkin won 33-7 after Tyler won 7-6 in regular season

Ties: 1968 (0-0), 1984 (0-0) 1991 (21-21)

Average margin of victory in previous eight meetings: 7 points

 

Standout Players

Lufkin

QB Kordell Rodgers: 199-307, 3,103 yards, 30 TDs, 2 INTs passing; 71-280 yards, 8 TDs rushing

RB Kahlil Brown: 148-830 yards, 16 TDs rushing

WR Dhailon Phillips: 61-1,016 yards, 9 TDs receiving

WR Malik Jackson: 44-922 yards, 9 TDs receiving

LB Torrand Grisby: 107 tackles, 4 sacks, 6 TFL, 1 FF, 2 FR

S JaBrian Grimes: 78 tackles, 5 PBUs, 2 FF, 1 INT

 

John Tyler

QB Bryson Smith: 142-239, 2,371 yards, 26 TDs, 6 INTs passing; 128-1,240 yards, 15 TDs rushing

RB Cameron Grant: 121-779 yards, 9 TDs rushing

WR Damion Miller: 29-693 yards, 7 TDs receiving; 1 INT return for TD

WR Michael Givens-Washington: 33-542 yards, 6 TDs receiving

WR Devlen Woods: 35-443 yards, 2 TDs receiving

LB Martrevious Allison: 93 tackles, 2 FF, 3 PBU, 1 INT, 2 sacks

LB Shaundrick Williams: 77 tackles, 2 FR, 5 sacks

DE Dekalen Goodson: 59 tackles, 7 TFL, 1 FF, 2 FR, 2 PBU, 11 sacks

 
 

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