There are several key matchups and aspects of Friday’s state semifinal game between Guyer (12-2) and Tyler John Tyler (13-1), but the biggest, most broad one has to be the contrast of the teams’ style of play.
Guyer, as always, is huge up front on the offensive line, averaging well over 260 pounds per guy on the offensive line. John Tyler, as typical for an East Texas team, is speedy all over the field, particularly on offense. They’re a passing offense but QB Greg Ward basically just throws 5-10 yard passes and lets his receivers break tackles and go to the house.
Message board talk suggests Guyer is in trouble because of the way the Wildcats played against Cedar Hill in the season opener and because John Tyler beat Guyer, 42-7, in a 7-on-7 game this summer.
I’m not saying Guyer is or isn’t in trouble. I do believe it’s going to be a high-scoring game. But that reasoning is just comical. First off, Guyer’s defense had nine new defensive players starting their first game that night against Cedar Hill, a speedy team loaded with athletes like John Tyler. Second, Sanger beat Guyer in 7-on-7 in 2010 when Guyer went to the 5A Division II state championship game.
But Guyer head coach John Walsh does know his defense is up for a challenge in chasing the Lions’ WRs all over the field.
“They’re very comparable to Cedar Hill just because of all the speed all over the field,” Walsh said. “They throw it well and when you empty the box they can run it well too. Their quarterback [Ward] is great at scrambling like [Guyer QB] Jerrod [Heard]. Some of their best running plays are pass plays where nothing is open and he’s taking off.”
Senior middle linebacker Terence Belton knows his defense didn’t perform up to expectations in allowing 42 points to Birdville last week, especially in the first half. But he said as long as they can wrap up and tackle against the Lions they should be able to get the necessary amount of stops to hold the Lions down.
“Tackling is gonna be a big part of it,” Belton said. “We have to wrap up and even if you’re not bringing the guy down, make sure you hold on. It’s gonna rely a lot on the back 7 — us [linebackers] and the secondary.”
The Lions’ offensive strength is in their passing game as they average nearly 240 yards per game through the air. Guyer’s perceived weakness on defense this year has been against the pass. Now, something has to give, and Belton has something to prove.
“We’ve stopped the run pretty well this year,” Belton said. “It’s always been passes here and there that has picked our defense apart. As long as we come out and know what we’re supposed to do, we should be OK. They’re going to have big plays on us, but we have something to prove. That’s sitting on our shoulders right now and the quicker we can get that off the faster we can move on.”
As for the talk of Guyer’s two games to open the season in which they gave up 54 points apiece to both Cedar Hill and Colleyville Heritage, Belton said he hopes that’s what the Lions are expecting to see again.
“Bringing in a whole bunch of new starters and the first game of the season, I mean we’ve gotten so much better since then,” Belton said. “I’m pretty sure they have too. Looking at the first game until now, there should be a major improvement. You can bring that up all you want, but that was our old team. That’s not us anymore.”