Blue Thunder: Lions peaking during playoff run

Published on Friday, 30 November 2012 00:01 - Written by Harold Wilson

 ALLEN —John Tyler encounters new territory today hoping to continue an old tradition.

With momentum, experience and history all on its side entering the halfway point of the Class 4A Division I state football playoffs, the Lions look to stay perfect in the third round of the playoffs.

The Lions sport a 12-0 all-time mark in regional games. The Lions (11-1) roar into today’s meeting with Frisco (9-3) on a 10-game winning streak.

The contest takes place at the dazzling Eagle Stadium in Allen, a venue worth nearly $60 million, and in its first year of operation.

A total of 17 starters played for JT in last year’s run to the state semifinals. Nine of the varsity members also played on JT’s 2010 state quarterfinalist edition.

“The focus overall of the team is getting to the peak point,” first-year JT head coach Ricklan Holmes said. “We’re peaking right around the time we need to be peaking.”

JT’s first two playoff efforts mixed dazzling offense and dominating defense. The Lions shattered the school record for points in a 77-20 win in bi-district over Waxahachie. The Lions limited Wylie to 183 yards of total offense and notched nine sacks in last week’s 38-10 victory in area.

The JT attack continues to show improved balance, with 31 touchdowns rushing and 34 passing. The JT defense scored last week for the fourth time this season on three-year starter Traven Johnson’s 30-yard interception return.

DeQuante Woods, a senior running back and three-year starter, surpassed the century mark rushing for the second straight week, turning 12 carries into 103 yards in last week’s triumph. Woods jetted 79 yards to his second TD.

Fred Ross, a senior receiver also in his third-year starting, finished with more than 100 yards receiving for the third straight week against Wylie. Ross chalked up 498 yards receiving and six TDs (four of 50 yards or more) over the last three games alone.

The JT offense features seven players with more than 100 yards rushing and five receivers in triple digits.

JT senior quarterback Greg Ward, another three-year starter, increased his streak without an interception to 17 games last week. Ward, who has thrown for 34 TDs, moved past the 3,000-yard mark in the process.

The JT offense figures to get its best test perhaps since an early season loss to a Lancaster team in contention for a 4A Division II crown.

Frisco functions out the wing-T, a ball-control attack that allows the Raccoons to limit opponents’ touches. Frisco ran 71 plays compared to 31 for Dallas Samuell in a 42-7 win last week. Frisco held Samuell to 90 total yards, including minus-six rushing.

The Raccoons allowed only one of their first 12 opponents to rush and pass for more than 150 yards in one game, that coming in a loss to cross-town rival Frisco Centennial, who plays Red Oak in the other Region II semifinal.

Matt Nollman (939 yards, 9 TDs) and Ben Cole (755 yards, 10 TDs) lead a stable of Frisco running backs.

“They want to keep our offense off the field the more they can,” Holmes said. “The way we’re playing the run this year, it’s going to be hard to do. I like (our chances).”

LIONS’ TALES:  JT will be the home team and occupy the press box side of the stadium. Tickets at the gate cost $10. Eagle Stadium seats a capacity of 18,000, which includes 6,500 reserved bench seats (5,000 on the home side), along with 5,000 general admission seats and another 4,000 in the end zone. The stadium sits on 72 acres and features more than 5,000 parking spaces. Parking cost $5 at the stadium. …JT head coach RIcklan Holmes mentioned Baylor’s Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco or Ennis as possible locations should JT advance to the state quarterfinals next week.

Probable Starting Lineups


FRISCO — QB 10 Jake Battaglia (Jr.), TB 24 Max Steitle (Jr.), FB 30 Matt Nollman (Jr.), WR 23 Skyler Sowerwin (Jr.), WR 26 Drake Hardy (Sr.), LT 75 Alex Nguyeen (Sr.), LG 55 Mason Brewer (Sr.), C 60 Blake Graves (Sr.), RG 64 Donovan Baca (Sr.), RT 78 Preston Morgan (Sr.), TE 27 Ben Cole (Sr.).

JOHN TYLER— QB 1 Greg Ward (6-0, 170, Sr.), RB 4 DeQuante Woods (5-11, 185, Sr.), WR/A 22 Reggie Gipson (5-9, 175, Jr.), WR/Z 8 Fred Ross (6-2, 185, Sr.), WR/Y 2 Darion Flowers (6-0, 180, Sr.), WR/X 3 Justice Liggins (6-1, 190, Sr.), LT 62 Emmanuel Terrazas (6-2, 235, Sr.), LG 56 Adrian Pulido (6-0, 255, So.), C 55 Chris Starling (5-11, 250, Sr.), RG 54 Carnelius Davis (6-0, 240, Sr.), RT 52 Travaughn Moore (6-2, 260, Jr.), K 36 Porfirio Benitez (5-6, 145, Sr.).


FRISCO — DE 48 Brendan Northcutt (Sr.), DT 42 Shane Roberson (Sr.), NT 73 Don Ton (Jr.), DE 46 Chris Robinson (So.), OLB 10 Jake Battaglia (Jr.), MLB 40 Frankie Jesse (Sr.), OLB 34 Curtis Flowers (Sr.), CB 21 Dongchan Kim (Sr.), CB 4 Austin Shaw (So.), SS 29 Grant Frerichs (Jr.), FS 26 DrakeHardy (Jr.).

JOHN TYLER — E 81 Tyus Bowser (6-2, 230, Sr.), NG 28 DeAndre Miller (5-11, 230, Sr.), DT 66 Chris Mobley (6-1, 235, Sr.), DE 5 Kavante Jefferson (6-2, 195, Sr.), WLB 15 Andrew Clark (6-0, 205, Jr.), MLB 24 Richard Gipson (6-2, 220, Sr.), SLB 4 DeQuante Woods (5-11, 185, Sr.), CB 25 Traven Johnson (6-1, 190, Sr.), CB 2 Darion Flowers (6-0, 180, Sr.), SS 21 Elliott Hart (5-11, 175, Sr.), FS 13 Terry Ausborne (5-11, 170, Jr.), P 40 Noe Diaz (5-10, 195, Sr.).


Class 4A Division I Regional Playoff

Where:  Eagle Stadium, Allen (18,000/artificial)

Records:  Frisco 9-3; John Tyler 11-1

Radio:  ESPN 92.1 FM

All-time series:  First meeting.

2012 Results: Frisco — North Forney, W 48-20; Byron Nelson Trophy Club, L 20-34; Lucas Lovejoy, L 24-35; Frisco Wakeland, W 21-17; The Colony, W 28-7; Little Elm, W 57-20; Frisco Liberty, W 43-35; Frisco Centennial, L 24-38; Frisco Heritage, W 51-9; Prosper, W 21-7; Highland Park, W 21-20; Dallas Samuell, W 42-7.  John Tyler — Lufkin, W 35-21; Lancaster, L 21-26; Robert E. Lee, W 21-0; Mesquite Horn, W 35-30; UANL (Mexico) W 20-10; Corsicana, W 63-14; Lindale, W 35-0; Jacksonville, W 59-7; Nacogdoches, W 50-7; Whitehouse, W 45-38; Waxahachie, W 77-20; Wylie, W 38-10.

Players to watch: Frisco  — RB Matt Nollman (939 yards, 9 TDs rushing; 162 yards, 3 TDs receiving); RB Ben Cole (755 yards, 10 TDs rushing; 11 catches, 220 yards receiving), DL Shane Roberson (6-2, 265). John Tyler — WR Justice Liggins (39-447, 6 TDs), DB Terry Ausborne (67 tackles, 6 INTs), DE/WR Tyus Bowser (65 tackles, 30 for loss, 19 sacks, 6 CFs, 3 TDs). 

About Frisco: Frisco held its fourth opponent to single-digits scoring last week. Samuell finished in the red with a negative-six rushing yards against a Frisco defense returning eight starters from last year's 10-win team, led by Roberson. Frisco showed the ability to slow teams both ways, keeping three opponents under 100 yards rushing, and four teams to double-digits passing. Frisco's run game keys the offense, with five backs over the 270-yard marking rushing. The Raccoons rushed for more than 400 yards last week against Samuell, helping them to hold onto the ball for 70 percent of the total plays. 

About John Tyler: JT's defense stole the spotlight last week, keeping its sixth opponent to 10 points or less.  JT's defense forced 35 turnovers in the first 12 games, scoring four TDs off the takeaways. JT owns a plus-20 turnover ratio. JT's strength up front sets the tone, with the Lions up to 30 sacks on the season, and only seven rushing TDs allowed on the season. The Lions' big-play offense scored on four TDs of 30 yards or more last week, and has hit the 35-point plateau in nine of 12 games, and seven straight.  

Frisco sideline:  “All of our running backs are great high school football players. They’re very unselfish. They work really well in pass protection and blocking for each other.” — Frisco head coach Vance Gibson

CUJO sideline:  “They’re a disciplined, running team. They’re very sound on defense and special teams. Their big offense and defensive lines are the first things that stick out at you. They don’t make a lot of mistakes. The mistakes you make against them they capitalize on. We have to make them get out their comfort zone and throw the ball.” — John Tyler head coach Ricklan Holmes

Next up:  JT-Frisco winner vs. Frisco Centennial-Red Oak winner in state quarterfinals.

Directions to Eagle Stadium:  Take Interstate 20 West toward Dallas. In Terrell, merge onto Spur-557, and head West on Highway 80. Take Interstate 635 West. Exit Highway 75 north and continue into Allen. Take the Exchange Parkway exit and prepare to turn right. Take Exchange Parkway to Rivercrest Boulevard, which runs you into the stadium. Parking will cost $5 at the venue. 

                     FRISCO  JOHN TYLER

Scoring Offense  33.3  41.6

Total Offense     407.0  430.6

Rushing Offense  254.0   172.8

Passing Offense  153.0   257.8

Scoring Defense  20.8 15.3

Total Defense       276.9      289.3

Rushing Defense 133.0      134.7

Passing Defense  143.9      154.6