Lions deliver Tigers loss

Tigers take first district loss of the season


Photo by Margaret Debenport

Texas High’s defenders Devaughante Jack (30) and Clayton Smith (10) attempt to bring down the running back from John Tyler September 27, 2019. The Tigers lost their district opener 16-0.

Story by Caden Rainwater, sports editor

The John Tyler Lions showed the Tigers their first loss of the season, snapping the Tigers’ three-game win streak. Key struggles with the Tigers’ offense led to a 16-0 defeat Friday night.

The past few games, the Tigers’ success could be attributed to having a very strong offensive line, an exceptional run game and a defense that is too overwhelming for the opposing offense, however, the matchup against the Lions told a different story for the Tigers. 

With this being the first district game for the Tigers, tensions were high and players were as anxious as ever to get another shot at the team they lost to by nearly forty points last year. Unfortunately, they were not able to capitalize on their do-over. 

Junior quarterback Rian Cellars didn’t play, which resulted in many offensive struggles. Lacking Cellars led to the use of back-up quarterback, sophomore Brayson McHenry, who had yet to play in a varsity game. The change in players led to a one dimensional, heavily run-based offense against the Lions.

Losing the coin toss, the Tigers received the kickoff, putting the ball in the hands of the sophomore for the first drive of the game. The first two plays of the quarter ended with interceptions, changing the mindset of the Tiger coaching staff for the remainder of the game.

Making up for the troubles of the offense, the Tiger defense showed their great strength, preventing the Lions from scoring a touchdown until late in the game. Having two very strong showings of defense, the first quarter ended in a 0-0 tie.

Throughout the second quarter, both endzones went untouched as the ball was continuously handed off and more troubles for the Tigers’ offense became evident. Focusing on the offensive line, junior left tackle, Collin Shelley, had been cut above the right eye impairing his vision on his right side. Along with Shelley, senior center, Bailey Logan, had injured his meniscus earlier in the week.

“I feel like if our offensive and defensive fronts can stay healthy, they will be a key part in putting us in the playoffs,” senior nose guard Trestin Whitehead said. “Because that is the foundation of both sides.”

On the last Lion drive of the half, the ball was set in the Tigers’ red zone. With the desire to end the half on a good note, the Lions ran a pass play. Confusion among the Tiger safeties and cornerbacks led to a wide-open Lion in the endzone. However, an easy score fell right out of his hands, forcing a field goal and ending the half with the Tigers trailing 3-0.

As the game continued in the third quarter, pass plays became very rare and run plays by senior running back Tracy Cooper took place frequently. The repetitiveness of run plays led to an adapted Lion defense, forcing punts on fourth down nearly every Tiger drive. 

Even though neither team landed a single successful drive in the third quarter, tensions still hit their peak, sparking little fights and unsportsmanlike conduct on both sides of the ball. 

“It was hard not to fight them, but that’s just not what we stand for,” Whitehead said. “As a defensive lineman I know they should have been called for holding almost every play, but in the end, all we can do is focus on the next play and do our best.”

Starting off the fourth quarter with the hope of extending their lead, the Lions made their way down the field and scored the first touchdown of the game with nine minutes left on the scoreboard, making the score 10-0.

Despite the fact that the Lions succeeded in extending their lead, hope was still lingering in the eyes of the Tigers with McHenry, determined to come back from a 10-0 deficit, completing multiple passes to senior receiver KB Webster, sending the ball far down into the Lions’ side of the field. Unfortunately, the drive stalled and the Tigers’ drive ended in a turnover on downs.

As the Lions earned the ball back after the Tigers’ turnover on downs, the Tigers still performed, putting the ball far into the Lions’ side of the field on third and fourteen, hoping to keep the game within two scores by gaining multiple sacks. A last-ditch effort to give the Tigers the ball ended with a long pass downfield and another touchdown, making the score 16-0 and putting any hope for a Tiger victory to rest.

“I know for at least myself, the team was focused on winning for coach Stanford,” Cooper said. “But at the end of the day, they wanted it more, and we let coach down, but that will change.”