John Tyler not looking past Jacksonville
October 26, 2012John Tyler Football
Published on Thursday, 25 October 2012 21:00 Written by Harold Wilson
With a possible showdown for the district title two weeks down the road, John Tyler’s chief concern centered on getting past the Jacksonville Indians the past few days.
After two blowout wins to start district, JT returns to Tyler for the first time in four weeks to face Jacksonville on homecoming tonight.
JT (6-1, 2-0 in 16-4A) enjoyed a near picture-perfect start to district with 14 offensive touchdowns and seven scoreless quarters on defense en route to outscoring Corsicana and Lindale a combined 98-14.
The Lions turned the ball over three times in last week’s 35-0 win over Lindale, something JT head coach Ricklan Holmes honed in on during preparation for Jacksonville.
“We’ve been making sure we’re taking care of the small things,” Holmes said. “We’re trying to stay focused on the task as well — coming out with a ‘W’ against Jacksonville. We treat every week the same.”
Jacksonville (3-4, 1-1) knows the challenge at hand going against the third-ranked Lions, who spent one week at No. 1 earlier in the season. Jacksonville has never beaten JT, which is on a 17-game district win streak.
“You have to play your best to hang around with them,” said first-year Jacksonville coach Chris Taber. “If we can stay close into the fourth quarter we give ourselves an opportunity. We have to limit big plays and be able to sustain drives.”
JT faced a pair of injury-riddled teams in Corsicana, which played without its quarterback, and Lindale, which missed the services of its top three offensive playmakers. Jacksonville, on the other hand, appears to be back near full strength after sophomore quarterback Carter McCown missed most of non-district after engineering a win over Carthage in the season opener. McCown sparked Jacksonville to a win over Nacogdoches in the district opener and passed for four TDs in last week’s overtime loss to unbeaten Whitehouse.
The Indians played the Lions tough in a 28-17 loss in last year’s regular season finale.
“We’re going to play to win and throw the sink at them,” said Taber, who served as offensive coordinator last year for Chapel Hill’s Class 3A Division I championship. “Even though we lost to Whitehouse, if we can beat JT we’re sitting there (with a chance to finish) as co-champs. We attack every team the same way, with four quarters of hustle.”
JT intercepted a season-high three passes in last week’s victory, finishing with more return yards than passing yards allowed. Meanwhile, Jacksonville threw five interceptions in a 42-35 overtime loss against unbeaten Whitehouse.
The JT secondary, featuring cornerbacks Darion Flowers and Traven Johnson and safeties Terry Ausborne and Elliott Hart, attack the ball with an offensive mindset. During a five-game win-streak, JT has held teams to a 43.6 completion percentage and 127.8 yards passing per game, with nine interceptions compared to seven passing TDs allowed.
“It’s the mentality knowing when the ball is in the air you have the same right to it as the receiver the quarterback is trying to get it to,” Holmes said. “If you have that mentality you’re going to make a lot of plays and interceptions. That just comes with the aggressive style we have on the defensive side, knowing that it’s as much our ball as their ball.”
LIONS’ TALES: Today’s matchup marks the fifth time for Jacksonville to catch JT close to its peak. The Lions won the first meeting (41-21) in 1994 on homecoming before going on to win the Class 5A Division II state championship. JT, ranked No. 1 at the time, breezed to a 41-7 win over Jacksonville in 1995. The series took a break until JT joined 4A two years ago and notched two more wins over Jacksonville in the regular season finales before reaching the state quarterfinals (2010) and state semifinals (2011).