The head coaches changed names, just not the high expectations now a commonplace at John Tyler and Lufkin.
A pair of first-year directors, John Tyler’s Ricklan Holmes and Lufkin’s Todd Quick, lead their talent-rich casts into tonight’s season opener in the second game of the Trinity Mother Frances Classic.
Holmes, who played against Lufkin during the 1990s and served as a JT assistant the previous four meetings, knows what’s in store. He replaces Dereck Rush, the only coach to lead the Lions to three consecutive district titles.
A Lufkin win tonight evens up the all-time series against John Tyler dating back to 1958. JT enters the game ranked No. 3 in Class 4A, returning 17 players with starting experience off a state semifinalists.
Lufkin reached the playoffs last year for the 14th consecutive season.
“People can expect a physical football game, lining up, getting after it,” Holmes said. “It’s East Texas football at its finest.”
Quick served as an assistant the past two decades under John Outlaw, who passed away suddenly last December. Outlaw’s coaching career featured 302 wins, including a 5A Division II state championship at Lufkin in 2001.
“John Tyler’s not going to change what they’re doing just because we’re coming to town,” Lufkin head coach Todd Quick said. “And we’re not going to change anything just because we’re playing them.”
The teams both won 42 games the previous five seasons. Lufkin owned the series under Outlaw, going 11-4 against JT. The two teams rank among the state’s most winningest, with JT and Longview tied at 10th all-time with 647 victories, and Lufkin 13th with 643, according to records kept by Texas high school football historian Joe Lee Smith
The previous four meetings were decided by 16 points total. Even the teams last meeting at the Fox Sports Net 7-on-7 state champions went to the wire, with JT winning in overtime before going on to the win the consolation title.
The passing games figure to be team strengths, with JT returning starting quarterback Greg Ward, who completed 284 of 395 passes for 3,729 yards with 34 touchdowns and five interceptions in 2011. JT’s four starting receivers all enjoyed big seasons last year: Fred Ross (100-1,320 yards, 15TDs), Darion Flowers (64-1,048-9TDs), Justice Liggins (29-277-1TD) and DeQuante Woods (22-396-5TDs).
“Their quarterback is their man,” Quick said. “He can take it to the house every time he touches the ball, or he can throw the ball into a tight spot.
“They’re going to go as he goes and last year he proved he can take them a long way.”
Lufkin turned its passing game into the hands of 6-5 senior quarterback Tyler Stubblefield, a Texas A&M baseball commit. The Lufkin passing attack features JaBryce Taylor, a SMU pledge.
“They’re offense is going to be more explosive passing than it’s been in,” Holmes said. “It’s going to be a good game.”
LIONS’ TALES: First-year JT head coach Ricklan Holmes played on JT’s 1997 team, a squad which held the No. 1 ranking until a 24-14 road loss to Lufkin in the eighth game. JT has defeated Lufkin only twice since, a 7-3 win in 1998 and a 27-18 victory in 2009.
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS
LUFKIN — QB Tyler Stubblefield, WR Key’Vantanie Coutee, WR Jamal Jeffery, WR Terry Mark, WR Robert Howard, WR JaBryce Taylor, OL Leroy Hurts, OL Jordan Smith, OL Wacey Hartman, OL Dominick Hall, OL Michael Traylor, K Luis Garcia.
JOHN TYLER — QB 1 Greg Ward (6-0, 170, Sr.), RB 22 Reggie Gipson (5-9, 175, Jr.)), SB 4 DeQuante Woods (5-11, 185, Sr.), WR/Z 8 Fred Ross (6-2, 190, Sr.), WR/X 3 Justice Liggins (6-1, 190, Sr.), WR/Y 2 Darion Flowers (6-0, 180, Sr.), LT 62 Emmanuel Terrazzas (6-2, 235, Sr.), LG 56 Adrian Pulido (6-0, 255, So.), C 55 Chris Starling (5-11, 250, Sr.), RG 54 Cornelius Davis (6-0, 240, Sr.), RT 75 Ken Holmes (6-3, 240, Sr.), K 40 Noe Diaz (5-10, 195, Sr.).
LUFKIN — DL Demontrai Lewis, DL D.J. Williams, DL D’vante Botley, LB D.J. Alexander, LB Dillon Kelley, LB Kevin Moore, LB D’Angelo Hightower, CB DeAndre Hooper, CB Jamarion Houston, CB Jomal Davis, FS Michael Farley, P Luis Garcia.
JOHN TYLER — DE 5 Kavante Jefferson (6-2, 195, Sr.), NG 28 DeAndre Miller (5-11, 230, Sr.), DT 66 Chris Mobley (6-1, 235, Sr.), DE 81 Tyus Bowser (6-3, 230, Sr.), WLB 15 Andrew Clark (6-0, 205, Jr.), MLB 24 Richard Gipson (6-2, 220, Sr.), SLB 11 Eric Sanchez (5-9, 165, Sr.), CB 25 Traven Johnson (6-1, 190, Sr.), CB 2 Darion Flowers (6-0, 180, Sr.), FS 13 Terry Ausborne (5-11, 170, Jr.), SS 21 Elliot Hart (5-11, 175, Sr.), P 40 Noe Diaz (5-10, 195, Sr.).