Are you ready for this week's Friday Night Faceoff?
Each week, WFAA.com brings you live coverage of a top high school football matchup in the DFW area. Follow along with high schools contributor Reece Kelley Graham (@ReeceKelleyG) as he provides updates on the teams throughout the week, plus live coverage on social media and the postgame recap.
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Week 4's matchup: Tyler John Tyler Lions at Rockwall Yellow Jackets
Who: Tyler John Tyler Lions (2-1, 0-0 District 11-6A) at Rockwall Yellow Jackets (1-2, 0-0 District 11-6A)
Where: Rockwall's Wilkerson-Sanders Stadium – 7:30 p.m.
Our first Friday Night Faceoff of district play takes us to Rockwall for a game that could go a long way in determining the champions of 11-6A. John Tyler and Rockwall, two of the more underrated teams in the class and the favorites in the district, will clash for an early lead in the standings. Boasted by an aerial circus on either side, talented quarterbacks and receivers should make for a fun, can't miss night of scoring. For the Yellow Jackets, this game will be about showing the district they mean business despite a 1-2 start to quality opponents. For the Lions, it'll be about avenging last week's disappointing loss to Lufkin and last season's one-point loss to Rockwall at home.
Here's what you need to know about the John Tyler Lions
The matchup between John Tyler and Rockwall is an intriguing one, mainly because both team excel at many of the same positions.
We've already talked about Rockwall in-depth, but just in case you've forgotten, the Yellow Jackets boast a gunslinger at quarterback, great receivers and defenders that will bully teams up front.
And John Tyler has much of the same.
Junior running back Cameron Grant allows the Lions to lean more on their ground game than Rockwall. Grant is on pace to exceed his 873-yard rushing total from last season, having already ran for 339 yards and two touchdowns. He averages eight yards per carry, making him a dependable first down machine. A large chunk of John Tyler's near 450 total yard average belongs to him.
Because of Grant, QB Devlen Woods, who played as a receiver last season, has less responsibility. But don't confuse "less responsibility" for less ability, as Woods has already thrown for nine scores on the season, just one shy of Rockwall's Jacob Clark. His 62 percent completion percentage is right there with Clark as well.
Rockwall has Jaxon Smith and Cameron Crayton, John Tyler has Ke'Andre Street and Michael Givens-Washington, both of whom hauled in over 550 receiving yards last season (Givens-Washington had almost 800). Street is currently averaging 24 yards per catch with 4 TD grabs.
But the Lions really shine defensively, and like Rockwall, big names up the middle make rushing on the interior difficult. John Tyler's pass rush is sneaky good, too.
SMU commit Tre Allison is probably the best all-around defender in the district. He recorded 118 tackles, two sacks and three interceptions last season. Dave Campbell named him the preseason defensive MVP for 11-6A.
And Allison is really just the insurance. John Tyler's defensive line is stacked with names like senior DeKalen Goodson, who finished last season with 11 sacks. Senior Tabias Marshall earned three sacks, as did senior Gregorio Guerrero.
These guys are sack happy, and it will be interesting to see how Rockwall's Clark deals with the pressure.
The bottom line: We've got the makings of a real shootout on our hands, though John Tyler holds the defensive edge. Rockwall's sole win came over Highland Park, another great defensive team. But that win was more lucky than anything. If John Tyler's pass rush can force Rockwall into some mistakes, the game could easily go the Lions way. Otherwise, it'll be a barnburner, a very close game.
It's time to see what this John Tyler defense is made of. Time to grit out another W for the early district lead.