The Tyler TAPPS football teams kick off their seasons this weekend, and they'll do so in style.
All Saints, Bishop Gorman and Grace Community will open the year at the ninth annual Tyler Football Classic Thursday through Saturday. Hosted by All Saints at Mewbourne Field this year, football fans will have plenty to be excited about.
The classic begins Thursday when Grace plays Canton. All Saints hosts Timpson on Friday and Gorman takes on Eustace on Saturday. All games begin at 7 p.m.
Before each game, a community tailgate will be open to the public at 5 p.m. that will include live music, bounce houses and Stanley's Famous Pit Barbecue.
During the games, fans unable to attend can watch the action live on KCEB (Suddenlink cable channel 2) or streamed on ETFinalScore.com.
All the added activities around the game are sure to rub off on those actually participating in the games.
"I hope our kids are fired up and our coaches are fired up," All Saints athletic director Eddie Francis said. "I think the exposure that this classic brings prepares kids to play at their highest level early in the season."
The games themselves add plenty of intrigue as well.
In the opener, Cougars coach Mike Maddox goes up against the school where he got his start coaching, Canton.
"It's exciting for me," Maddox said, whose team went 7-4 in 2013. "Still a lot of good folks, good friends over there."
The Eagles are coming off a 4-6 year, losing in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs. They return star quarterback Chandler Eiland to an offense always among the best in East Texas.
On Friday All Saints and Timpson play for the third straight year. The Bears won the first two and went 5-5 last season.
While looking to end their skid against the Bears, the Trojans will be preparing for their first season with district play since 2011. After two years of independence, All Saints rejoins TAPPS D-II District 2, along with Grace, Gorman and Bullard Brook Hill, among others.
The finale of the football feast pits one of the area's best passing offenses against a powerful ground game.
Last year the Crusaders, who went 5-5, led the area (Class 3A and below) in passing yards with 2,901. The Bulldogs meanwhile can look to a pair of juniors who ran for 1,000 yards combined as sophomores as they look to build on last year's 5-6 season.
With three competitive games, a plethora of off-field activities and live TV broadcasts, the Tyler TAPPS football teams are celebrating the start of a new season with a bang, but they won't be the only TAPPS tournament in the area.
Bullard Brook Hill once again will host the Brook Hill Fall Football Classic, now in its fifth year.
The classic features Edgewood vs. Brook Hill on Friday evening followed by Houston Second Baptist against Episcopal School of Dallas on Saturday.
The Guard and Bulldogs kick off at 7 p.m. at Herrington Stadium. Brook Hill won its Classic game last year in thrilling fashion, with Seth Brasher catching a tipped pass for a last-second touchdown to beat Frankston 21-18.
The Saturday matchup, which begins at 5 p.m., will see the return of coach Terry Pirtle, who led Brook Hill to its only football state title in 2011. Pirtle, now coaching Second Baptist, went 7-4 in his first year with the Eagles, winning a district title. He'll face a first-year coach in Richard Williams of Episcopal School of Dallas.
NOTES: Tickets for the Tyler Football Classic games are $7 for adults and $5 for children under 12.
Tyler Football Classic Schedule
At Mewbourne Field, All Saints
Thursday, Aug. 28: Grace Community Cougars vs. Canton Eagles, 7 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 29: All Saints Trojans vs. Timpson Bears, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 30: Bishop Gorman Crusaders vs. Eustace Bulldogs, 7 p.m.
Brook Hill Fall Football Classic
At Herrington Stadium, Bullard
Friday, Aug. 29: Edgewood Bulldogs vs. Brook Hill Guard, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 30: Houston Second Baptist Eagles vs. Episcopal School of Dallas Eagles, 5 p.m.