The Sequel: John Tyler-Plano East II nearing reality


JT-PESH(WEB)
John Tyler QB Morris Anderson (9) prepares to take the snap from center in now-legendary meeting with Plano East in the 1994 regional playoffs at Texas Stadium. (File Photo)

 

You’ve likely seen the replays.

How about a remake?

The same two teams responsible for a dream finish are helping turn a follow-up to their now-famous high school football game into reality.

As in a reality series touted as the “Throw-It-Back Show” which will reunite boys-turned-men for a made-for-television competition featuring training and cuts, and flashbacks and personal journeys, culminating with a rematch 20 years in the making.

John Tyler and Plano East, who played in what is considered the greatest high school football game in Texas history in the 1994 regional playoffs, are the central figures in a project currently underway.

Filming started over the past weekend at Plano East High School on Saturday, and at John Tyler on Sunday, before members from the two teams descended on Cowboys Stadium Monday to get more footage for an undertaking still in the developmental stages.

John Tyler defeated Plano East 48-44 in the memorable matchup that garnered an ESPY award for Showstopper of the Year. John Tyler led 41-17 with less than three minutes left. East scored four touchdowns, recovering three onside kicks along the way, to take an improbable 44-41 lead with 24 seconds left.

Rod Dunn returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for the game-winning touchdown to seal the John Tyler victory at Texas Stadium. Clips of the comeback have garnered more than 1.7 million views on youtube.com.

John Tyler went on to win the Class 5A Division II championship and finish 16-0.

“That lets you know Texas football is big around the whole world,” said Kendrick Austin, a receiver on the 1994 John Tyler team. “To see all those hits, everyone’s going to want to see this game again.”

The classic contest caught the attention of Edward Christian of ChrisDol Entertainment Group, who put together a concept of bringing the competitors back together.

The show, currently being pitched to networks, is envisioned for 13 episodes. The first episode plans to introduce the characters and the reunions that took place the previous days. The next eight episodes expect to take a look back at the athletes’ hardships, challenges and opportunities in the 18 years since the game, and include character-driven competitions during a two-month long training camp, ending with a the surviving John Tyler-Plano East gridders playing at Cowboys Stadium next spring.

Episode 10 deals with pregame, with episode 11 devoted to replays of the original game. The last two episodes feature bonus highlights and the winning team’s grand prize trip.

The series hopes to be a starting point for follow up seasons with different teams from different cities and regions.

Film crews followed former Lions for several hours on Sunday. The John Tyler players partook in individual drills and interview sessions and lifted weights.

“It felt good to see the guys and know what they’re doing and to laugh and talk, put on the uniform and feel like a football player again,” added Austin, who is a barber in Tyler. “Doing it reality-style is going to make it very competitive. It’s going to bring people together.”

Sunday marked the first time for several of the former John Tyler players in the new fieldhouse, which opened five years after the state championship season. A photo of the 1994 championship team decorates the entryway, along with photos of prominent players during the decade that birthed the Cujo phenomenon.

“Being back at John Tyler was great,” said Jerrid Beal, a tight end on the John Tyler ’94 squad. “Not to mention the old pictures of the Cikai Champions, Chris Carters, Mike Jones, all those people that came before us, who really kind of got the whole John Tyler tradition started. It was a great time talking to (current John Tyler head coach) Ricklan Holmes, who was a freshman when we won state, and telling him how proud we are of him keeping the tradition alive and the homage he paid to the ‘94 team (before the season opener), and how we’re proud of the 2012 team. It was a trip down memory lane seeing the championship trophy and reliving the games.”

Upon relocating to Cowboys Stadium, the competitive juices flowed, with the teams even getting some 11-on-11 action in. A John Tyler team that never tasted defeat believes it will be victorious if and when the rematch takes place.

“Our skill players have a tremendous advantage,” said Beal, who lives in the Dallas area. “I didn’t see any Michael Prices, Ricardo Dunns, Rod Dunns, Morris Andersons or Darwin Browns (for Plano East). And we have them. The competitive blood is there. We’re excited to play the game again. To know if this goes down, we’ll be at (Cowboys) Stadium, everyone’s excited. We are extremely confident. Besides, we’re the champs. Say no more: 16-0.”

Details are still being worked out for the final stages of filming. Tentative plans are to bring the teams back for eight weeks during the spring of 2013 around the Dallas area, and house the athletes in a college dormitory for two months. The reality show is hopeful of hitting television screens during the fall of 2013, allowing an inside view at the performers who made a historical finish possible.

Plano East entered the game 12-0 and ranked No. 2 in the state. John Tyler came in with a 12-0 record and ranked No. 3.

“We let our guards down and thought it was over and they kept fighting,” said Beal, who returned for the 1995 season when John Tyler extended the school-record winning streak to 27 games. “It’s because they kept coming and fighting and playing that forced the miraculous kickoff. I think it’s going to make for an awesome show.

“Stay tuned.”

 

To stay updated on Throw-It-Back, and get more information on the planned reality competition television series, visit facebook.com/throwitbackshow, @throwitbackshow on twitter, youtube.com/user/throwitbackshow and indiegogo.com/throwitbackshow.