Trinity Mother Frances Football Classic ready to kick off Thursday

Robert E. Lee quarterback Zach Hall and the Red Raiders open the season Saturday against Keller Fossil Ridge. (Lang White | Correspondent)

The 11th annual Trinity Mother Frances Football Classic begins Thursday and will consist of four games in three days, all played on Earl Campbell Field at TMF Rose Stadium.

And this year’s event has a little something for everyone.

The four games will spotlight teams from four classifications: Class 6A (3), 5A (1), 4A (2) and 3A (2).

It all kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Thursday with Gilmer vs. Liberty Eylau. John Tyler will be center spotlight on Friday as the Lions play host to Plano at 7:30 p.m. Saturday will feature a doubleheader with Grand Saline and Frankston at 11 a.m. followed by Robert E. Lee vs. Keller Fossil Ridge to close out the proceedings at 7:30 p.m.

All tickets are $10 and one ticket allows you access to all four games.

If you like area powerhouse teams, be sure to grab tickets for the TMF Classic opener featuring Gilmer and Liberty-Eylau.

The Buckeyes, ranked No. 8 in the AP Class 4A preseason poll, were state champions in 2004 and 2009 and runners-up in 2007 and 2012. In fact, Gilmer has reached at least the state quarterfinals six times in the past 10 seasons. Gilmer has won the past six meetings between the two, but Liberty-Eylau can always look to 2006 when the Leopards stunned a 10-0 Buckeyes team in bi-district on the way to the school’s second state title.

Those fans who know their Texas high school football history will want to be on hand Friday when John Tyler hosts Plano. The Lions are ranked No. 8 in the AP Class 5A preseason poll and coming off a 7-4 season. Plano moved up to Class 6A and also went 7-4 last season.

The teams are both in the Top 10 for all-time program wins. Plano has won seven state championships, the most recent coming in 1994. Coincidentally, that is also the year JT achieved its last state title, with the Lions grabbing three state rings overall in their illustrious history.

JT owns a 2-0-1 record in three games between the two, the last coming in 2000. The Lions took down Plano 21-13 in the area round en route to finishing as state runner-up. JT has reached at least the state quarterfinals in four of the past five years and were state semifinalists in 2011 and 2012. Plano reached the state quarterfinals in 2005 and was a state semifinalist in 2007.

Those fans who want to watch smaller classifications can brave the expected heat of an 11 a.m. kickoff Saturday for two newly reclassified 3A teams who want to put last year in the rearview mirror. Frankston reached the playoffs last year despite a sub .500 record, falling in the first round to finish 4-7. Grand Saline went winless in 2013.

Finally, for those fans wanting to watch two teams from the new largest classification, Lee and Fossil Ridge are last to take the stage.

The Red Raiders are the lone 6A team in East Texas and will look to make it two wins in a row at the TMF Football Classic after defeating Lufkin last year.

This will be the first-ever meeting between Lee and Fossil Ridge.

The Panthers went three rounds deep in the playoffs last season to finish 9-4. REL is coming off a 4-6 season.

Notes: Tickets may be purchased at the Athletic Office at the Plyler Complex, 807 W. Glenwood through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Friday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Other outlets are T&T Lewis, 903 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. during regular business hours and Tyler Athletics, 5520 Old Jacksonville Highway (business hours, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday). Students and faculty may purchase tickets at John Tyler and Robert E. Lee high schools.


Trinity Mother Frances Football Classic

Earl Campbell Field at Trinity Mother Frances Stadium, Tyler

Thursday, Aug. 28: Gilmer Buckeyes vs. Liberty-Eylau Leopards, 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 29: John Tyler Lions vs. Plano Wildcats, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 30: Frankston Indians vs. Grand Saline Indians, 11 a.m.

Saturday, Aug. 30: Robert E. Lee Red Raiders vs. Keller Fossil Ridge Panthers, 7:30 p.m.


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