Both teams are ready to put East Texas — and Texas high school football for that matter — in the spotlight.
This edition features another early-season collision before both teams, still looking to improve in every area, head their separate ways into the rest of the season.
But for tonight, bragging rights are on the line under the bright lights that couldn’t be any brighter.
It’s Longview vs. John Tyler for the 96th time, this time with the nation watching.
Here’s a look at tonight’s non-district showdown between the Lobos and Cujo as a part of the GEICO ESPN High School Football Showcase:
LONGVIEW VS. JOHN TYLER
John Tyler: 0-2
Longview: John King
John Tyler: Ricklan Holmes
Kickoff: 7 p.m.
Stadium: Earl Campbell Field at CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium, Tyler
On the air: 106.5 JACK FM
Last week: Longview 53, Marshall 0; Tyler Lee 34, John Tyler 7
Up next: Longview vs. West Monroe, La. (Independence Stadium, Shreveport); Euless Trinity at John Tyler
WHEN LONGVIEW HAS THE BALL
Players to watch
Longview: OL Tim Polk ... OL Malique Miller ... OL Parker Cox ... OL Tavion Sterling ... OL Owen Kuenemann ... TE Jhailon Braden (3 catches, 53 yards, TD) ... RB Kaden Meredith (26 carries, 153 yards, 3 TDs; KO return TD) ... FB Markevion Haynes (8 carries, 95 yards, TD) ... QB/P Haynes King (30-50-2, 494 yards, TD; 6 carries, 25 yards, TD; 53 punt avg.) ... WR Kyas Moore (12 catches, 237 yards) ... WR Kaden Kearbey (8 catches, 104 yards) ... K Antonio Onofre (2-2 FGs; Long: 45)
John Tyler: DL Kameron Mayfield (11 tackles) ... DL LaTravion Hawkins ... LB Tyrone Williams (14 tackles, FF) ... LB Daveion Cummings (12 tackles, Sack) ... S Isaiah Johnson (15 tackles, TFL, FF) ... S Travion Ates (14 tackles, TFL, FR) ... DB Kitan Crawford ... S D’Jonte Henderson (2 PBU)
Keys: Consistency and rhythm for the Lobo offense against a John Tyler offense that knows what is coming and is prepared. Both elements for the Lobos rely on staying on schedule on first down. The Lobo offense has seen 22 third downs so far this season and has converted on 64% of them but getting ahead on first down will be key against a John Tyler linebacker corps that is solid. Longview has stayed relatively balanced with 50 pass attempts and 57 rushing attempts but the second part — running the ball — is crucial for the visitors. They’ll attempt to do that against a Lion team that is allowing 139 rushing yards per game this season and knows the Lobo offense well.
He said it: “They’re going to challenge you with loading the box and with press man coverage. They like to get you into low-percentage throws and they can do that. There is a tremendous amount of team speed on that side of the ball with a few guys inside that are tough to move. It’s a typical John Tyler defense — athletic, fast and physical.” — King
WHEN JOHN TYLER HAS THE BALL
Players to watch
Longview: LB Tyshawn Taylor (25 tackles, 5 TFL, 2 sacks, FF, PBU) ... DL Sawyer Goram-Welch (11 tackles, 2 TFL, sack) ... S Malik Cannon (17 tackles, 2 TFL, PBU) ... S Kybrien Jackson-Jamerson (5 tackles, TFL, sack, PBU) ... DB Dakirin Buchanan (4 PBU) ... S Robert Pierce (6 tackles, INT) ... LB Cedric Smith (13 tackles, INT) ... DL Drew Beltran (10 tackles, TFL)
John Tyler: OL Angel Sarmiento (6-2, 285) ... RB Kitan Crawford (13 carries, 140 yards, TD; 4 catches, 51 yards) ... QB Cameron Ford (15-43-2, 208 yards, TD; 40 carries, 94 yards, TD) ... QB Isaiah Johnson ... RB Jakyron Lacy (15 carries, 69 yards) ... WR Robert Draper (5 catches, 54 yards) ... WR Austin Campbell (3 catches, 48 yards, TD)
Keys: Pursue and tackle. Simple enough for the Lobo defense, which is off to a solid start to the 2019 season. What doesn’t make it quite as simple: John Tyler’s speed on offense and the unknown of who is getting the ball. The Lions have spread it around both at quarterback with Ford and Johnson getting starts as well as a host of Lion running backs against a Lobo defense that is allowing two yards per carry on 58 attempts in two games this season. John Tyler put up 269 rushing yards in a loss to Mesquite Horn but was held to 30 rushing yards on 29 carries against rival Lee this past week. Winning the battle up front, which pits Longview’s experienced defensive line against a Lion front which returns one starter, Sarmiento, will be crucial, just as much as tackling in space behind them.
He said it: “They’re athletic with speed at running back and the skill positions. They’re a block here or a block there from breaking things loose and can do that on any given snap. We’re going to have to slow the running game down. They’re going to throw a stable of running backs at us and both quarterbacks can run it effectively. We’ve got to go control the line of scrimmage and not let them run the ball over the top of us and limit the explosive play. That’s what they feed off of. You can go out and have six or seven good plays and then get creased on the eighth and bam, it’s off to the race. If that happens a couple of times, those guys can start playing with a lot more confidence and when John Tyler does that, it’s always a scary challenge.” — King
Did you know: Tonight is the 96th meeting between two teams with Longview leading the series, 50-38-7 ... The Lobos won, 41-13, in 2018 ... Longview is 47-27-1 all-time at TMF Rose Stadium and is on a five-game win streak there, according to Lobo football historian Bill Simpson of www.lobohistory.com ... John Tyler ATH Kitan Crawford is a Texas commit ... Longview QB/P Haynes King is a Texas A&M commit ... Lobo DL Sawyer Goram-Welch holds 15 Division I offers ... Longview is averaging 38.5 points per game and allowing 10.5 ... The Lobos are averaging 452.5 yards (249 passing/203.5 rushing) and allowing an average of 227 (171 passing/56 rushing) per game ... John Tyler is averaging 12 points per game and allowing 36.5 ... The Lions are averaging 265 yards (115.5 passing/149.5 rushing) and allowing 309 (139 passing/170 rushing) per game
Twitter-sized preview: John Tyler’s 0-2 record is deceiving and the Lions have the skill to quickly right the ship. Keeping the pedal down offensively and limiting explosive plays defensively will be key for the Lobos to move to 3-0 on the season.
Follow Hayden Henry on Twitter: @hayden_h