FORNEY — The cold front that swept through Tyler this week could only mean one thing: John Tyler is in the football playoffs.
As the weather dipped into the 30s, the Lions prepared for what they hope is another long postseason run, one that will start Saturday against Mansfield Legacy. Kickoff for the Class 4A Division I bi-district playoff is 2 p.m. from City Bank Stadium.
“Anytime you make it to the playoffs and it’s starting to get cold outside, that’s a good feeling,” Holmes said. “We are a playoff school, especially when it comes to football.
“That’s something that we know about, we feed on and you’ve got to keep that going because that shows the success of your football team.”
John Tyler (7-3) comes in off its first district loss since 2009. This is the first time since 2008 the Lions will enter the playoff fray not as a district champion.
The Broncos (8-2) enter the postseason for the second time in school history, dating to 2007.
While JT is shooting for its 50th all-time postseason victory, Legacy is seeking its second.
Although many of the key figures of the Lions’ run to the last two state semifinals have graduated, the team can look to its senior captains Terry Ausborne and Reggie Gipson for leadership.
“It’s more mentally tough than physically tough,” Holmes said of what his seniors can teach some of the younger players. “It’s more a mental deal, more understanding the importance of winning and not going home and knowing that you can’t have that mind frame of, ‘Well, I’ve got next week to get better.’
“This is the only week you have right now.”
Legacy ventures to City Bank Stadium as the only Metroplex Class 4A school to feature two 1,000-yard rushers.
Broncos running back Kijana Amous has run for 1,726 yards and 25 touchdowns; quarterback Terrance Ivery has 1,080 yards and six touchdowns on the ground.
John Tyler’s defense, which allows 180 rushing yards per game, will look to its front seven to slow Legacy’s rushing attack, which racks up 354.6 yards per game. Among that group will be junior Josh Williams, who tallied 4.5 sacks in the last four games, and sophomore Braylon Jones, who leads the team with eight tackles for loss.
“He’s a kid that’s able to be what they call a game changer at the front line,” Holmes said of Jones. “That’s what we’ve got to continue to have out of him for six games.”
On offense, the Lions averaged 456.4 yards per game in District 16-4A play, 236.8 of which came on the ground, giving JT a more balanced offense than Legacy, which relies on the run for 78 percent of its yardage.
Junior quarterback Geovari McCollister has 2,463 yards passing and 804 rushing to lead the Lions in both categories. Nick Cain (44 catches, 806 yards) and Duntayviun Gross (44 catches, 520 yards) are McCollister’s top targets through the air.
Holmes said he doesn’t think Legacy has the speed to match up with JT’s skill players.
“Our front line is going to do a better job than the teams that they have been facing as far as the blocking schemes that they have been going against,” Holmes said. “I don’t think they’ve ever seen a 6-2, 200-pound quarterback that can move yet.
“I think we have the advantage on the offensive side of the ball.”
The winner of Saturday’s matchup will advance to face McKinney North (7-4), which beat Texas High 26-14 at Lobo Stadium in Longview.
Mansfield Legacy Broncos at John Tyler Lions
When: 2 p.m. Saturday
Where: City Bank Stadium, Forney
Radio: KTBB 600-AM, Tyler
Records:Legacy — 8-2; John Tyler — 7-3
Last Week’s Results: Legacy 64, Mansfield Lake Ridge 28; No. 3 Whitehouse 55, John Tyler 54
2012 Result: Did not play
All-Time Series: First meeting.
Players to Watch:Legacy — RB Kijana Amous (5-11, 205, Sr.), QB Terrance Ivery (5-8, 180, Sr.), LB Mike Sanders (6-0, 220, Sr.). John Tyler — WR Rodney Bendy (6-4, 190, Jr.), RB Reggie Gipson (5-10, 175, Sr.), DE Jassavia Reese (6-5, 225, Jr.).
Quick Slant: While John Tyler features a balanced offense, Legacy runs the ball more than 80 percent of the time. Amous and Ivery have combined for 2,750 yards on the ground and Kenton Mayberry has added 615 yards rushing for the Broncos. Gipson should return to the lineup for the Lions after missing the last two games. He leads JT with 16 touchdowns in eight games. Bendy had his best game of the season last week, hauling in seven passes for 99 yards and a touchdown.
Notable: Legacy is 1-1 all-time in the postseason while John Tyler is 49-26-3. The Lions have more state titles (three) than the Broncos have playoff appearances (one), though Legacy has only been open since 2007.
Quotable: “We learned a lot about our character, keeping our composure throughout the whole game and not letting the things that Whitehouse was doing — the antics that they were doing — discourage us and take us out of our game. I think my players were very mature about that throughout the whole game and I applauded them for that. I applauded them for also fighting and putting us in a position to being able to win that football game.” — JT coach Ricklan Holmes on his team’s effort against Whitehouse.
Stadium Address: City Bank Stadium (8,985) — 9067 FM 741, Forney.
Next Up: Winner vs. McKinney North, Class 4A Division I area playoffs.