County blues: JT, Lindale meet for first time
October 19, 2012John Tyler Football
Published on Thursday, 18 October 2012 23:43 Written by Harold Wilson
LINDALE — John Tyler and Lindale, neighboring school districts, introduce themselves for the first-ever time on the gridiron as a new Smith County football tradition gets under way tonight.
Only 14 miles separate the two schools down Highway 69. The teams collide after going in opposite directions the first six weeks — the Class 4A heavyweight Lions winning all but one game and a reeling Lindale team losing all but one.
The third-ranked Lions (6-1) opened district play with a 63-14 win over Corsicana, a state semifinalist last year. The Eagles (1-6) dropped their opener 56-24 to unbeaten Whitehouse.
JT, which spent time at No. 1 in preseason, expects the same bulls-eye as usual. Corsicana scored first in last week’s game and ended the first quarter tied before JT ended with 49 unanswered points.
“Everybody’s going to give you their best game, no matter how their season’s been thus far,” first-year JT head coach Ricklan Holmes said.
Several of JT’s students stay in the Swan community surrounding Highway 69 and inside Interstate 20, which borders Lindale’s city limits.
“It feels like it did when we first started playing Whitehouse,” Holmes added. “Basically another inner-city rival is what it is because we’re so close together. It’ll be a good atmosphere for the fans.”
JT pieced together its first complete game of the season, scoring a season high and pitching a shutout over the final 36 minutes. JT also played the game with a clean grade of health after nicks and bruises affected the offensive flow in non-district.
“The defense settled down and got back into the rhythm of the game and we started playing football,” said Holmes, whose first-team unit scored on all nine drives. “We just need to continue to do what we’ve been doing and practice how we’ve been practicing. When you go out there and practice like you want to play, it makes it that much easier on Friday.”
Injuries riddled Lindale early in the season and continue to play havoc on the Eagles’ depth. Lindale lost key offensive players such as quarterback Josiah Johnson, last year’s 14-3A Newcomer of the Year, and standout running back/defensive back Demarucs Lynch and wide receiver/defensive back Jake Anderson, a transfer from Southlake Carroll, to season-ending injuries. Running back Trey Acy, coming off a 1,000-yard season, remains at least a week away from returning.
A healthier Lindale kicked off the season with a 31-14 win over defending 3A state champion Chapel Hill. The victory marked the last as injuries struck a dozen offensive regulars alone.
“Our biggest challenge is we have a lot of key players injured and not with us,” Lindale head coach Mike Meador said. “It’s the worst year we’ve ever had injuries-wise. It’s just constant. We’ve lost a few games I don’t think we would have.”
The injuries have yet to hurt Lindale’s playoff chances, with Corsicana (1-5) and Nacogdoches (0-6) among the teams in 16-4A struggling. Lindale has reached the postseason four straight years and 12 of the past 14 seasons.
“Our goal is to make the playoffs and we still have that opportunity,” Meador said. “It’s just set us back. We have a lot of young kids fighting and getting better every week. We’re going to keep plugging and getting better.”
A sellout crowd close to 6,000 expects to be on hand as Lindale, a 3A last year, tries to upset JT, just three years removed from playing in the 5A state quarterfinals.
“It’ll take us to playing pretty close to perfect,” Meador said. “We can’t turn the ball over. We have to execute, make tackles and play a great game and get some momentum.”