TYLER, Texas — Our countdown to the high school football kick off continues with the Tyler High Lions. The team lost key players last year to graduation, but the squad still has a deep roster, and some pretty big athletes.
“That's something we've been building," said Ricklan Holmes, head coach. "I think we started this process in 2020, playing all the freshmen that we played, and then putting the program together the way we needed to with Coach Eason, our strength coach to make sure we had the size and the strength to do what we need to do which is playing in December.”
Of the returners is the No. 11 athlete in the country, Derrick McFall, who is coming into this new season with an agenda.
“I'm excited," McFall said. "I got a lot to prove because I'm a top athlete so you got to keep that name for yourself. So I'm coming into the season with a chip on my shoulder, showing everybody why I need to be the No. 1 running back in the nation.”
At quarterback, there’s an open battle for that starting spot between senior Jayden Jones and Spring Hill transfer Jabraylyn Williams, which means more reps for the secondary, led by senior safety Xavier Tatum.
“I'm really excited for the season," Tatum said. "I'm excited about all the players we have coming back and all the help we got. I just think we got all the pieces we need to be great and go far this season.”
By going far, he means going to state - a sentiment Holmes stands behind.
“I've been around a lot of good football teams and this is one of them," Holmes said. "So, you know I feel like if we stay healthy and stay focused, we got a really good shot at it.”
The Lions open up the season Aug. 26 on the road against the Marshall Mavericks.