John Tyler wanted to start quick and build momentum competing against the state's best 7-on-7 teams.
The Lions did just that, running rampant early and often in going 3-0 to win Pool J at the Texas Adidas 7-on-7 Division I Championships on Friday afternoon at Veterans Park and Athletic Complex in College Station.
John Tyler will compete in the championship bracket at 9 a.m. Saturday against Hutto. The Lions are on the same side of the bracket as Lufkin, which finished second in its group and faces Lewisville Hebron in the opener.
Jacksonville, in its first trip to state in school history, struggled, going 0-3 to drop to the consolation bracket where the Indians will take on Pflugerville Hendrickson at 8 a.m.
John Tyler was the dominant force in Pool J, winning all three games by at least two touchdowns and holding each opponent to less than 20 points.
The Lions opened with a 53-19 thrashing of Fort Worth South Hills before defeating Pearland Dawson 33-19, the closest game of the day for JT. In the finale, the Lions pulled away from Hendrickson 32-13.
"We started out quick and then kind of slowed down midway through the games but we picked it up and won all three," said JT coach Joseph Clark, who gave his team a grade of B-plus.
Next for John Tyler is a Hutto team that finished second in Pool B, beating Jacksonville 41-20 and Mesquite Poteet 33-20 before falling to The Woodlands 49-12.
"With them coming up right off the bat, we gotta get up real early in the morning and be ready," Clark said.
The Lions will be used to playing football early in the morning as high school coach Ricklan Holmes has the team practice in the mornings instead of afternoons during the school year.
John Tyler would play either Cy Fair or Southlake in the next round. Cy Fair won Pool I while Southlake finished runner-up in Pool A.
Further down on the right half of the bracket is Lufkin, which went 2-1 on Friday.
The Panthers started well, beating Lancaster 40-34 and Clear Brook 42-33, before falling to Belton 39-33 to settle for second place. Belton won the highest-scoring game of the day, a 75-67 shootout over Clear Brook.
Should Lufkin advance past Hebron the Panthers would face either Austin Westlake or Dickinson in the second round.
The championship game is slated for 3 p.m.
The consolation bracket final begins at 2:30 p.m., a game Jacksonville will hope to reach.
The Indians lost to Hutto 41-20, The Woodlands 37-19 and Poteet 36-20 to finish last in Pool B.
Jacksonville will be vying to be the second East Texas team to win the consolation bracket this year after Grace Community won the Division II consolation title.
John Tyler won the consolation title in 2012, the same year Greg Ward, Fred Ross and company won a national 7-on-7 title.
Quarterback Bryson Smith has the Lions playing their best summer football since then and will be eyeing another final, this time in the championship bracket.
"If we go out there and play like we did (Friday), I don't think we should have any problems accomplishing what we came down here to accomplish," Clark said.
"It's going to be a lot tougher competition."
Texas Adidas 7-on-7 Division I Championships
At Veterans Park and Athletic Complex, College Station
Thursday Pool Play Scores (East Texas pools only)
Pool B - Round 1: Hutto 41, Jacksonville 20; The Woodlands 33, Mesquite Poteet 12. Round 2: Hutto 33, Poteet 20; Woodlands 37, Jacksonville 19. Round 3: Woodlands 49, Hutto 12; Poteet 36, Jacksonville 20. Standings: 1, Woodlands; 2, Hutto; 3, Poteet; 4, Jacksonville.
Pool F - Round 1: Belton 75, Clear Brook 67; Lufkin 40, Lancaster 34. Round 2: Belton 28, Lancaster 26; Lufkin 42, Clear Brook 33. Round 3: Belton 39, Lufkin 33; Lancaster 40, Clear Brook 39. Standings: 1, Belton; 2, Lufkin; 3, Lancaster; 4, Clear Brook.
Pool J - Round 1: Pearland Dawson 20, Pflugerville Hendrickson 19; John Tyler 53, Fort Worth South Hills 19. Round 2: John Tyler 33, Dawson 19; Hendrickson 27, South Hills 6. Round 3: Dawson 26, South Hills 21; John Tyler 32, Hendrickson 13. Standings: 1, John Tyler; 2, Dawson; 3, Hendrickson; 4, South Hills.
Championship Bracket Schedule
First Round (9 a.m. Saturday)
Round Rock Westwood vs. Richardson Pearce; The Woodlands vs. Dawson; Arlington Lamar vs. College Station; Pearland vs. San Antonio O'Connor; Harker Heights vs. Houston Heights; Belton vs. Austin Bowie; Houston Lamar vs. Lake Travis; DeSoto vs. Arlington; Cy Fair vs. Southlake; John Tyler vs. Hutto; Abilene vs. Richmond Foster; Waxahachie vs. Plano West; Austin Westlake vs. Dickinson; Lewisville Hebron vs. Lufkin; Manvel vs. Cooper; Cy Ranch vs. Tomball Memorial
Westwood-Pearce vs. Woodlands-Dawson; Arlington Lamar-College Station vs. Pearland-O'Connor; Harker Heights-Heights vs. Belton-Austin Bowie; Houston Lamar-Lake Travis vs. DeSoto-Arlington; Cy Fair-Southlake vs. John Tyler-Hutto; Abilene-Foster vs. Waxahachie-Plano West; Westlake-Dickinson vs. Hebron-Lufkin; Manvel-Cooper vs. Cy Ranch-Tomball Memorial
Consolation Bracket Schedule
First Round (8 a.m. Saturday)
Fort Bend Travis vs. Denison; Mesquite Poteet vs. Fort Worth South Hills; El Paso Eastlake vs. Fort Bend Ridge Point; San Angelo Central vs. Cy Greek; Plano East vs. Richland; Lancaster vs. Lubbock Monterey; Copperas Cove vs. Beaumont West Brook; San Antonio Alamo Heights vs. Killeen Ellison; A&M Consolidated vs. Willis; Pflugerville Hendrickson vs. Jacksonville; Cedar Hill vs. Round Rock Cedar Ridge; Mesquite Horn vs. North Crowley; El Paso Eastwood vs. Sharyland Pioneer; Katy vs. Clear Brook; Arlington Bowie vs. Mesquite; McAllen Memorial vs. Mercedes
Travis-Denison vs. Poteet-South Hills; Eastlake-Ridge Point vs. Central-Cy Greek; Plano East-Richland vs. Lancaster-Monterey; Copperas Cove-West Brook vs. Alamo Heights-Ellison; Consolidated-Willis vs. Hendrickson-Jacksonville; Cedar Hill-Cedar Ridge vs. Horn-North Crowley; Eastwood-Pioneer vs. Katy-Clear Brook; Bowie-Mesquite vs. McAllen Memorial-Mercedes