PLANO - The John Tyler Lions are taking their first steps as Labor Day approaches and they are hopeful the journey continues until near Christmas Day.
JT, under sixth-year coach Ricklan Holmes - the former Lions and Oklahoma State standout - opens its 112th season of high school football on Friday against Plano West Senior High School.
The contest has a 7:30 p.m. kickoff at John Clark Stadium in Plano.
Holmes said the Lions are ready to take the field.
"We had a great offseason and spring, a successful summer with the (team) performing well 7on7 and training camp went well which put us in a position to be successful," Holmes said.
He added the Lions will find out a lot about themselves against a Plano West team that is "extremely talented and coach (Scott) Smith has (the Wolves) headed in the right direction."
Although JT scored a 45-14 over the Wolves last season in Tyler, Holmes said his team learned valuable lessons that helped them the remainder of the season.
Holmes, who has a 5-year mark of 51-15 with five playoff berths, added the offseason and fall training camp has really helped his team, especially young junior quarterback Devlen Woods.
Expected starters for the Lions include: QB Woods, running back Cameron Grant, wide receivers Jaivon Williams, Victor Campbell, Michael Givens-Washington and Keandre Street; tackles Chance Billington and Ja'Barlen Yarber; guards Samuel Meneses and Kaylon Douglas, center Trejon Blake and placekicker Frankie Sanchez.
Expected defensive starters include: cornerbacks Nicholas Thompson and Aysaiah Franks, safeties Isaiah Johnson and Kiante Ross, linebackers Kameron Mayfield, Dewayne Jones, Martrevious Allison and Tyrell Jones; ends Dekalen Goodson and Tabias Marshall and tackle Breylon Johnson. Sanchez is also the punter.
Smith has the Wolves playing faster on offense, led by a talented senior trio of quarterback Jake Sweeney, running back Da'Vonte Carline and receiver Khryi Murrell.
LIONS TALES - Clark Stadium, 429 W. Spring Creek Parkway in Plano, is about 111 miles from Tyler. There are several options in reaching the stadium; one is take Interstate 20 West until taking U.S. Highway 80 west to Interstate 635 north. Then take exit 19A to merge onto U.S. Highway 75 north toward McKinney, taking exit 31 toward Spring Creek Parkway and head west on Spring Creek Parkway and the stadium is on the right. There is usually some construction on this route. … Presale tickets for the JT game are $4 (student general admission) and $6 (adult general admission). General admission at gate is $8. Ticket locations include: TISD Athletic Office, Plyler Complex, 807 W. Glenwood, Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Phone: 903-262-3080; T&T Lewis Texaco, 903 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Friday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Phone: 903-535-9551; and Tyler Athletics, 5520 Old Jacksonville Hwy., Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Phone: 903-534-9500. … JT's home opener is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8 in the Christus Trinity Mother Frances Football Classic. The Lions will face Ennis. … Plano West will meet Sachse next Friday for homecoming. … JT enters the season with an all-time record of 702-376-41. The Lions are tied with Cuero for eighth most wins in the state of Texas according to Joe Lee Smith's TexasHighSchoolFootballHistory.com. … Highland Park leads at 801, followed by Amarillo (770), Plano (754), Temple (748), Mart (734), Brownwood (728) and Cameron Yoe (708). After JT and Cuero, Corsicana is No. 10 at 699.