For the second straight week, John Tyler tackles a Smith County rival.
After downing Whitehouse a week ago, the Lions host Lindale at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. Friday on Earl Campbell Field.
John Tyler, now ranked No. 5 in the state, crushed the Wildcats 52-17 in the District 16-5A opener in Whitehouse. The Lions (3-1, 1-0) now face an Eagles (1-3, 0-1) team that has lost three straight.
Lindale, however, is 1-0 against teams from Smith County this year, having edged Chapel Hill 21-17 in the season opener.
John Tyler is 2-0 all time against Lindale, but neither team will be worrying about those records once the game kicks off.
"We just worry about the 2014 season and hopefully do the same thing we did last year because each year is always going to be different because everybody has a different team," JT coach Ricklan Holmes said. "I expect (Lindale) to get better every year. The team we beat last year is not the same team we're going to play in 2014."
The Lions will be riding high off the momentum from routing the rival that ended their 23-game district winning streak last year.
In the win, senior quarterback Geovari McCollister had his best game of the year, throwing for 295 yards on 14 of 20 passes, adding 74 yards on the ground. With five touchdowns through the air and one on the ground, McCollister had as many touchdowns as he had incompletions.
The performance, which earned him American State Bank and Built Ford Tough player of the week honors, came down to decision making, Holmes said.
"He's always had a great touch on the ball," Holmes said of McCollister. "He knows where to place it. That's never been a problem for him. Just knowing when and how to get it there, he's getting better at that."
Holmes said he sees similar qualities in Lindale junior quarterback Kam Neely that he saw in McCollister his junior year. In a 24-23 loss to Corsicana last week, Neely completed an efficient 12 of 20 passes for 196 yards and a touchdown.
"(Neely) hasn't made the same mistakes from each week to the next week," Holmes said. "I'm expecting him to be better than he was last week."
The Lions blanked the Eagles 35-0 two years ago in their only meeting in Lindale. John Tyler won last year's game 49-17, but two key figures from that win graduated: Terry Ausborne (two INTs) and Reggie Gipson (three TDs).
"I think overall they're just a better team," Holmes said of Lindale. "The consistency is there. They don't make a lot of mistakes.
"(They're) stout up front, play fast and strong and hard. (Their) linebackers play downhill. They're not bad in pass coverage."
While JT and Lindale are separated by less than 15 miles, two opponents in particular are even closer: brothers Deandre and Tayton Williams. Deandre is a senior cornerback who recently transferred to JT while his younger brother Tayton is a junior receiver for Lindale.
Tayton Williams had a game-high five catches for 106 yards last week and it could be down to his brother to slow him down.
Deandre Williams said he's been amped up in practice all week thinking about the matchup against his brother and former school. Fellow Lions corner Isaac Warren will try to help him stay focused.
"My thoughts on Lindale is keep Dre calm and make sure he doesn't lose his mind over his old school," Warren said.
As with most rivalry games, turnovers could be a deciding factor. The Lions enter with a +7 turnover margin with 11 recovered fumbles and five interceptions. JT forces a turnover every 16.5 plays while committing one every 25.6 plays.
"We've got to play John Tyler football," Holmes said. "We can't play to beat Lindale. We've got to play to beat ourselves because the mistakes that we do make have cost us. The success that we do have has helped us. So we've just got to continue to do what we do and not worry about what the other team's doing."
Lindale at John Tyler Lions
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Earl Campbell Field at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium, Tyler
Radio: ESPN East Texas 92.1-FM, Tyler; KMOO 99.9-FM, Mineola.
Records: Lindale — 1-3 (0-1); John Tyler — 3-1 (1-0)
Last Week's Results: Corsicana 24, Lindale 23; John Tyler 52, Whitehouse 17
2013 Result: John Tyler 49, Lindale 17
All-Time Series: John Tyler leads 2-0.
Players to Watch: Lindale — LB Stephen Clemmons (5-10, 195, Sr.), QB Kam Neely (5-8, 150, Jr.), RB Aaron Jackson (6-0, 165, Sr.). John Tyler — CB Deandre Williams (6-0, 195, Sr.), LB Jaylon Reese (6-1, 225, Sr.), WR Duntayviun Gross (5-10, 160, Jr.).
Quick Slant: John Tyler started a new district winning streak by beating Whitehouse, which ended the Lions' 23-game district win streak last year. On the flip side, Lindale lost to one of the two teams it beat in district last year. The Lions are averaging 38.5 points per game while allowing 22.8. Lindale scores 19.3 per game and is allowing 28.8, but that average is lowered to 21.0 if you take out the 52-20 loss to Van.
Quotable: "It shows the strength of our district. Our district is pretty tough. Jacksonville's playing well, Lindale's playing well, solid. Everybody knows about Lufkin, Ennis, (JT) and Whitehouse and Nacogdoches, with the five-star athletes they have, we're pretty solid. The four that make it out and compete in the playoffs are going to give the other districts a run for their money." — John Tyler coach Ricklan Holmes on District 16-5A after one week of play.
Stadium Address: Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium (11,500) — 700 Fair Park Drive, Tyler.
Next Up: Lindale at Jacksonville, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 10; Lufkin at John Tyler, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 10.