There's no denying John Tyler is a team with plenty of veteran leadership — the Lions have 30 seniors on the roster.

But JT has a few young guns that have been vital to the team's run to the Class 5A Division I regional playoffs, sophomores who have played roles large and small.

In all, seven 10th graders have contributed to the Lions' 10-2 season, including six who are on the two-deep and four of whom start in some capacity.

Linebacker Shaundrick Williams, center Dau'quawn Montgomery and Damion Miller have all asserted themselves as starters in their first year of varsity play while Decorian Blaylock is the team's starting deep snapper.

Along with backup quarterback/receiver/defensive back Bryson Smith and defensive fill-ins Kieran Freeman and Howard Hawkins, JT's class of 2017 has proven to be a powerful presence on the ninth-ranked Lions squad.

"They came in green and young, only playing freshman football, not being able to go through that process of playing JV football, going straight into a varsity role," JT coach Ricklan Holmes said. "We've got some sophomores that had to grow up fast, but they're handling it pretty well right now."

The ability of JT's sophomores, who will line up against Rockwall-Heath on Friday in Waco, has meant that the upperclassmen can't coast through practice and assume they'll hold on to their starting jobs.

"It creates a good competition," Holmes said. "It enhances the work ethic from the starters because they know there's somebody behind them that's just as good as they are and at any given moment they could go out there and possibly take your position."

Montgomery and Williams haven't had to worry about that — they've started the entire season as underclassmen.

Williams, for one, took over the weakside linebacker role and made it his own. He's now fourth on the team with 67 tackles and tied for second with five tackles for loss.

"(Williams) is a kid that has grown up really fast," Holmes said. "That is an attest to how hard he works. He doesn't want to fail at anything and he pushes himself like that."

Miller began the season on the defensive side at strong safety. An injury opened the door for senior Jordan Owens to step up and Owens took full grasp of the job and now has a team-high eight interceptions.

That meant more time on offense upon return for Miller, who now leads the team in yards per catch (21.6) and is tied for the lead in touchdown receptions with five. On the year he has 16 catches for 346 yards.

"Special kid, physical, big, fast," Holmes said. "His route running ability is getting better each week because he's starting to understand what he needs to do."

A sophomore touches the ball on every play for JT. Montgomery, at 6-3, 265, has helped the Lions running game rack up 2,226 yards per game on the ground and 407.0 total per game as the center.

Blaylock, while not an every-down starter, is nonetheless a critical component for the Lions as the deep snapper for both field goals and punts.

"He is very important, him and Montgomery," Holmes said of Blaylock. "Montgomery's been our starting center for all year and Blaylock is our deep snapper. He has a very, very important role."

Perhaps the most notable of the sophomores, though not a starter at any one position, is Smith. He's already been compared to current University of Houston starting quarterback Greg Ward, JT's all-time leading passer.

Smith has caught 11 passes for 228 yards and two touchdowns, run for 88 yards and a score and completed 14 of 19 passes for 148 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

"He's a versatile kid kind of like Greg Ward," Holmes said of Smith. "He's able to do a lot of things on the football field that people normally can't do.

"He has the mental capacity to play the quarterback position and handle it. He has the versatility speed and hands to be a great wide receiver. He also has the toughness and the ability to read and understand offenses to play defense. He brings a lot to the table and that's a good thing."

Together Smith and Miller bring valuable depth to the receiving corps. The Lions have six receivers with at least 10 catches and seven with more than 100 yards, not including running back Jeremy Wilson, one of the team's top receiving threats.

While not as much in the spotlight, Freeman and Hawkins have also helped JT win games. Freeman is the backup free safety and a special teams contributor while Hawkins has given good minutes at defensive end.

In addition to the aforementioned sophomores, freshman running back Martrevious Allison (6-1, 180) joined the squad five games ago and sophomore kicker Devan Salazar joined the team for the playoff run.

"That ties the whole campus together," Holmes said. "Because you've got a freshman playing, you've got sophomores; you've got a whole bunch of juniors and seniors. Every grade level is represented on the John Tyler football team."

All together the Class of 2017 has made for a memorable season and a bright future.

"I'm just proud of how they're playing," Holmes said. "I love the maturity that they've shown for these last 12 games, going into this 13th game and I can't wait to see how much better they'll get over the course of the rest of this playoff run and moving on to next season.

"You look at those kids and you smile and you kind of wonder to yourself how much better are they going to get."

LIONS TALES: Tickets for the John Tyler vs. Rockwall-Heath game, which kicks off at noon Friday, will be sold at the gate for $10 for general admission. … The winner of Friday's game plays either McKinney North or Mansfield Lake Ridge. That game, a state quarterfinal, is tentatively scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday at North Texas' Apogee Stadium in Denton.

 

John Tyler Season Stats

Scores

Non-District

John Tyler 30, Plano 12

John Tyler 41, Longview 25

Robert E. Lee 37, John Tyler 31

District 16-5A

John Tyler 52, Whitehouse 17

John Tyler 76, Lindale 13

John Tyler 26, Lufkin 24

Ennis 30, John Tyler 27

John Tyler 33, Corsicana 3

John Tyler 62, Jacksonville 7

John Tyler 44, Nacogdoches 14

Playoffs

John Tyler 58, Texas High 23

John Tyler 44, Mansfield Summit 27

Score By Quarters

    1st    2nd    3rd    4th       OT        Tot.

Opponents    67    54    68    43    0    —    232

JOHN TYLER    126    112    184    102    0    —    524

———

Team Statistics

Scoring

    JT    Opp.

Rushing    198    96

Passing    144    90

PAT    64    21

FG    30    21

Defense/Special Teams    88    0

2 Pt Conversion    0    4

Total    524    232

———

First Downs

    JT     Opp.

Passing    104    67

Rushing    125    100

Penalty    10    15

Total    239    182

———

Third Down Conversions

JOHN TYLER    58-132 (44%)

Opponents    50-157 (32%)

Fourth Down Conversions

JOHN TYLER    9-12 (75%)

Opponents    9-18 (50%)

Field Goals Made/Attempted

JOHN TYLER    10-15 (67%)

Opponents    7-7 (100%)

———

PATs Made/Attempted

JOHN TYLER    64-71 (90%)

Opponents    21-28 (75%)

Team Yardage

Rushing

JOHN TYLER    2226 (185.5)

Opponents    1921 (160.1)

Passing

JOHN TYLER    2658 (221.5)

Opponents    1658 (138.2)

Total Yards

JOHN TYLER     4884 (407.0)

Opponents    3579 (298.3)

Punts-Avg.

JOHN TYLER    39-1425 (36.5)

Opponents    57-1914 (33.6)

Fumbles-Lost

JOHN TYLER    30-14

Opponents    39-19

Interceptions Thrown

JOHN TYLER    6

Opponents    17

Turnover Ratio

JOHN TYLER    +16

Penalties-Yards

JOHN TYLER    117-911                                                                

Opponents    94-652

———

Individual Statistics

Rushing

Player    No.    Yds.    Avg.    TD    Lg.

Jeremy Wilson    180    1433    8.0    21    80t

Geovari McCollister    139    496    3.6    7    33

Bryson Smith    16    88    5.5    1    37t

Dejuan Beal    25    77    3.1    0    15

Nick Cain    6    53    8.8    1    31

Martrevious Allison    12    39    3.3    0    13

Pierre Leonard    6    32    5.3    2    13

Cordarion Johnson    8    28    3.5    1    14

Quaylan Brown    5    20    4.0    0    8

Damion Miller    1    15    15.0    0    15

Bryston Gipson    1    10    10.0    0    10

Duntayviun Gross    2    -15    -7.5    0    -7

Team    3    -50    -16.7    0    -3

Totals    404    2226    5.5    33    80t

———

Passing

Player    Co.    Att.    Yds.    TD    INT    Lg.

Geo. McCollister    171    265    2510    22    5    59t   

Bryson Smith    14    19    148    2    1    30t

Totals    185    284    2658    24    6    59t

———

Receiving

Player    No.    Yds.    Avg.    TD    Lg.

Nick Cain    44    562    12.8    4    59t

Duntayviun Gross    41    605    14.8    5    51t

Jeremy Wilson    27    271    10.0    3    57t

Rodney Bendy    22    365    16.6    5    51

Damion Miller    16    346    21.6    5    47t

Bryson Smith    11    228    20.7    2    57t

Tommy Dyer    10    104    10.4    0    33

Quaylan Brown    6    105    17.5    0    68

Cordarion Johnson    5    39    7.8    0    14

Pierre Leonard    2    26    13.0    0    15

Dejuan Beal    1    7    7.0    0    7

Totals    185    2658    14.4    24    59t

———

Punting

Player    No.    Yds.    Avg.    N20    BK    Lg.

Luis Duran    39    1425    36.5    9    0    47

Totals    39    1425    36.5    9    0    47

———

Kicking

Player    XPM/A    FGM/A    TB    Lg.

Luis Duran    57-64    8-12    27    70

Luis Lizalde    7-7    2-3    0    35

Totals    64-71    10-15    27    70

———

Kickoff Returns

Player    No.    Yds.    Avg.    TD    Lg.

Deandre Williams    8    264    33.0    1    77

Quaylan Brown    7    131    18.7    0    20

Duntayviun Gross    9    119    13.2    0    23

Jeremy Wilson    3    37    12.3    0    21

Nick Cain    4    21    5.3    0    15

Isaac Warren    2    15    7.5    0    15

Bryson Smith    1    15    15.0    0    15

Totals    33    602    18.2    1    77

———

Defensive Stats

Fumble Recoveries

Player    No.    TD   

Bryston Gipson    6    3

Shaundrick Williams    2    0

Tony Johnson    2    0

Pierre Leonard    2    0

Isaac Warren    1    1

Jaylon Watson    1    1

Cordarion Johnson    1    0

Damion Miller    1    0

Decorian Blaylock    1    0

Jordan Owens    1    0

Jaylon Reese    1    0

Totals    19    5

———

Interceptions

Player    No.    TD

Jordan Owens    8    1

Shaundrick Williams    2    1

Tony Johnson    2    1

Bryston Gipson    1    1

Jaylon Reese    1    1

Damion Miller    1    0

Isaac Warren    1    0

Deandre Williams    1    0

Totals    17    5

———

Sacks

Player    No.

Pierre Leonard    9.0

Jassavia Reese    5.0

Braylon Jones    5.0

DeAndre Benson    3.0

Rodney Bendy    2.0

Nick Cain    1.0

Shaundrick Williams    1.0

Tony Johnson    1.0

Tresdon Brooks    1.0

Joshua Williams    1.0

Jaylen Tennyson    1.0

Brandon Dade    1.0

Bryston Gipson    1.0

Totals    32.0

———

Tackles

Player    TOT    TFL    SAC    QBP    PBU    FF

Jaylon Reese    92    0    0    0    0    0

Pierre Leonard    77    12    9    6    0    1

Braylon Jones    73    4    5    2    0    0

Shaundrick Williams    67    5    1    0    0    0

Tony Johnson    62    1    1    0    3    0

Bryston Gipson    56    2    1    0    1    0

Jordan Owens    50    0    0    0    1    0

Isaac Warren    49    0    0    0    0    0

Jassavia Reese    45    3    5    0    1    0

Deandre Williams    39    0    0    0    2    0

DeAndre Benson    29    3    3    0    0    0

Joshua Williams    25    2    1    2    0    0

Damion Miller    18    5    0    0    0    0

Nick Cain    13    1    1    0    0    0

Howard Hawkins    10    0    0    0    0    1

Rodney Bendy    10    2    2    0    0    0

Jaylen Tennyson    9    1    1    0    0    0

Jaylon Watson    9    0    0    0    0    0

Brandon Dade    9    1    1    0    0    1

Justin Session    8    0    0    0    0    0

Joseph Gipson    6    0    0    0    0    0

Ka'Darius Henderson    5    0    0    0    0    0

Tresdon Brooks    5    1    1    0    1    0

Grasean Whitlock    5    0    0    0    0    0

Duntayviun Gross    3    0    0    0    0    0

Luis Duran    3    0    0    0    0    0

Kieran Freeman    2    0    0    0    0    0

Thomas Boyd    2    0    0    0    0    0

Quaylan Brown    2    0    0    0    0    0

Martrevious Allison    2    0    0    0    0    0

Jeremy Wilson    1    0    0    0    0    0

Decorian Blaylock    1    0    0    0    0    0

———

Scoring

Player    TD    FG    PAT    2PT    Tot.

Jeremy Wilson    24    0    0    0    144

Luis Duran    0    8    57    0    81

Geo. McCollister    7    0    0    0    42

Duntayviun Gross    6    0    0    0    36

Nick Cain    5    0    0    0    30

Rodney Bendy    5    0    0    0    30

Damion Miller    5    0    0    0    30

Bryston Gipson    4    0    0    0    24

Bryson Smith    3    0    0    0    18

Pierre Leonard    2    0    0    1    14

Luis Lizalde    0    2    7    0    13

Deandre Williams    2    0    0    0    12

Isaac Warren    2    0    0    0    12

Jordan Owens    1    0    0    1    8

Cordarion Johnson    1    0    0    0    6

Jaylon Reese    1    0    0    0    6

Shaundrick Williams    1    0    0    0    6

Jaylon Watson    1    0    0    0    6

Tony Johnson    1    0    0    0    6

Totals    71    10    64    2    524

 
 

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