Elliott Davison

Isaiah Johnson (LEFT) will be a key player for the John Tyler Lions. Johnson can play quarterback and defensive back. Elliott Davison (right) and the Tyler Lee Red Raiders open practice on Monday.

There will be a mix of familiar faces and new faces when the Tyler Lee Red Raiders begin fall practices on Monday morning at Robert E. Lee High School.

The Red Raiders bring back 15 starters, including eight on defense from last season’s 2-8 campaign.

Among the defensive starters returning are Elliott Davison and North Texas commit Jamal Ligon, who will also play on the Lee offense.

“We have great senior leaders,” Lee head football coach Kurt Traylor said. “When you have high-quality kids like Jamal Ligon and Elliott Davison, it affects your whole program. They are really good athletes, good leaders and good kids.”

Traylor is looking to Ligon, Davison and the rest of the returners to turn around a defense that allowed 47.2 points per game last season.

“I don’t want to put a lot of pressure on them but I would be shocked if our defense isn’t dramatically improved,” Traylor said. “We were so young last year, and we were playing kids that didn’t need to be out there because we didn’t have depth. Now, we have more quality depth, and the guys are a year older and stronger. You have to be prepared with depth and strength wise, especially in the league we play in.”

The Red Raiders have also brought in JJ Berry from West Rusk to be the Red Raiders’ co-defensive coordinator, along with Corey Chancellor. Traylor said he likes the way the duo works together and is excited to see what they do with the 2019 version of the Lee defense.

Lee also has a new offensive coordinator as Andrew Colvin joins the staff from Kemp.

“I’m looking for him to simplify what we’re doing and find ways to put the ball in our playmakers’ hands,” Traylor said. “Our offensive line is young, and I’m excited to see them grow and mature.”

Traylor said being able to have two hours a week of football-specific drills during the summer was good for the program, especially in terms of participation.

Now, Traylor and his staff will look to put it all together as the Red Raiders prepare for the 2019 season, which kicks off Aug. 30 at Marshall.

“Like anybody else, there’s a lot of anticipation,” Traylor said. “After all of the hard work put in during the offseason and having a lot of good players coming back, we’re ready to put the work in on the field. We’re just excited to start playing some ball.”

Lee will host its “Meet the Raiders” event at 7 p.m. on Aug. 17.

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