Now for Round 2.
After last week's eye-catching weekend of Tyler TAPPS action, the first ever in which all four schools played each other on the same day and in the same district, the East Texas TAPPS D-II District 2 teams gear up again for another round.
In the first all-Tyler weekend on Oct. 10, Grace Community stunned Bullard Brook Hill with a huge second half to break a halftime tie for a 55-14 win. At the same time, Bishop Gorman gashed the area's top-ranked defense in a 45-0 victory over All Saints.
Now the Crusaders lead the district at 3-0 with All Saints, Grace, Brook Hill and Dallas Christian all chasing at 2-1.
On tap Friday is the second of three East Texas-centric weekends, the last one coming on the final week of the season. Grace pays a visit to All Saints at 7 p.m. from Mewbourne Field and Brook Hill welcomes Gorman to Herrington Stadium at 7:30 p.m.
GRACE COMMUNITY AT ALL SAINTS
One's coming off a big win, the other's coming off a big loss. Two teams 4-2 and 2-1 in district coming from opposite directions collide at Mewbourne Field.
Grace, which leads the all-time series against All Saints 2-0, is coming off an emphatic win over Bullard Brook Hill. The Cougars bounced back from a disappointing loss to Dallas Christian the week before and they'll expect the Trojans to attempt a similar rebound from their loss to Gorman.
"Going into that game (against Gorman) they had really the best defense stat-wise," Grace coach Mike Maddox said of All Saints. "Defensively they're just very sound in what they do. They really run downhill to the football and they have a kind of bend-and-don't-break philosophy.
"It's a group of guys and coaches over there that have really turned the corner in their program and we know we're going to have to practice our best and play our best."
The Cougars haven't made the short trip across town to play the Trojans since 2007, though Grace played on Mewbourne Field earlier this year, a 49-28 loss to Canton in the Tyler Football Classic to open the season.
Grace running back Zach Tatman needs 12 yards to hit the 1,000-yard mark rushing. His 988 yards lead an offense that has 1,752 yards on the ground at 7.4 yards per carry. All Saints' defense is allowing 5.0 yards per carry.
The Trojans counter with the duo of running back Jace Evans (82-408) and quarterback Matt Brunson (350 rush, 324 pass).
All Saints coach Mike Hall said the biggest challenge the Cougars pose is their speed. He added that Grace is similar to Gorman but with different personnel.
"We've got to control their speed," Hall said. "They're so good at what they do, Mike and his coaching staff do a great job of coaching their team.
"Nobody's been able to stop Grace completely. We hope we'll slow them down and force turnovers."
BISHOP GORMAN AT BROOK HILL
The Crusaders (6-0, 3-0) are the lone remaining unbeaten team in TAPPS D-II District 2 and attempt to keep it that way with a tough road test against the Guard (3-2, 2-1).
Gorman comes in with some of the most impressive stats in East Texas on offense, averaging 531.7 yards and 43.3 points per game, led by Michael Goodwin (1,535 passing, 514 rushing) and Connor Hobbs (41 catches, 716 yards).
Both coaches said stopping the run is a top priority.
"Their offensive line is big and they do a good job with their ground game," Guard coach Bobby Brasher said of Gorman. "They are playing with some confidence with three district victories."
For Brook Hill, Gabe Lucio has run for 565 yards and Grant Hanks has thrown for 1,163 yards, most to Seth Brasher, who has 28 catches for 506 yards.
"They have some dynamic playmakers on offense with Seth Brasher and Chase McDermott and Gabe Lucio," Gipson said. "Hanks the quarterback is dangerous in and out of the pocket. He runs the show and never panics, makes good decisions with the ball.
"We have to be able to stop the run and guard against the big play in the passing game. They're a threat to score on any play, so we have to limit big plays."
The Crusaders have lost four straight to the Guard since a 29-6 victory in 2005, Brook Hill's first year of football. Last year Brook Hill eked out a 24-22 win when Hanks hit Jacob Dumesnil for a 50-yard touchdown with 1:36 left.
"It'll be quite a challenge for us to go to their home field and play well enough to compete with them," Gipson said. "Because that's a program with a lot of pride, knows how to win and their coaches will have them ready to play."