Coaches don’t often put much stock into rankings and don’t always agree with them.
There is one ranking Tyler Legacy head football coach Joe Willis doesn’t have an argument against, though.
That is Longview being ranked No. 1, not only in the most recent #bEASTTexas Fabulous 15 for Class 6A/5A/4A but also in the entire Class 5A Division I by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football.
“They deserve it,” Willis told his team following the end of Wednesday’s practice.
“There’s no doubt. I’ve been coaching 31 years and I’ve seen Longview the last three years, and this is the best team I’ve seen out of Longview. I’ll say they’re very deserving of their ranking. They’re a complete team. They play really good on offense, defense and special teams. They’re solid in all three phases. They have a lot of speed and size on the field. So they’re worthy of that ranking. And I’ll say this, they’re probably one of the top 10 teams in the state of Texas in any classification.”
Longview (2-0) goes into the contest that is set to begin at 7 p.m. Friday at Christus Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium leading the overall series 46-14-2 and has won 17 consecutive meetings against the Red Raiders. Though a non-district game, a win on Friday would go a long way for the young Red Raiders squad.
“It would definitely be a big deal for our kids,” Willis said. “And our kids can’t really focus on them. They’ve got to focus on us, executing and do what we do. But there is no question that if go out there and take care of business, we will be right in this ball game. It may come down to the end again. That’s what we’re hoping for, anyway.
“They’re not a team that you can make the kind of mistakes that we made the other night again and hope to be in the game.”
Legacy (1-1) had six turnovers in a 29-27 win over Tyler in four overtimes.
The Red Raiders are now facing a Longview team loaded with talent, headlined by four-star senior receiver Jalen Hale and four-star junior running back Taylor Tatum.
“They’re diverse,” Willis said. “They can line up with two tight ends if they want to and run the ball right at you, and they’re still going to. They’re going to establish the run game one way or another. But that run game leads to having to put an extra player in the box. And when it does, you isolate a very good receiver, obviously an FBS talent, out there 1-on-1. That’s their gameplan, run it first, get him in isolation coverage and then try to take the shots down the field with him.”
A Longview win tonight would mark career victory No. 200 for Longview head coach John King — all with the Lobos.
“When you start talking about 100, 200 or 300 wins in football and you’re only guaranteed 10 games a year, it’s a lot different than other sports where you have 30 to 35 games a year,” Willis said. “And to win 200, of course he’s done a great job there in Longview. He’s an establishment. That would be a huge accomplishment for him. We certainly hope we doesn’t get that ball tonight.”
Following Friday’s game, Legacy will hit the road for the first time to take on Texas High at 7 p.m. Sept. 16 in Texarkana. Longview will travel to Lufkin on Sept. 16 for the District 7-5A Division I opener.
Legacy will be without running back Sterlin Burleson, who has 17 carries for 68 yards in two games. Running back Ladarius Yarber, who has 27 carries for 113 yards and a touchdown, is expected to play, but will be limited.
“We will be without one starter, and then Yarber is going to play a little bit, but he is a little bit on the gimpy side. So we’ve got to make sure we get our backup running backs in a situation where they can perform.”
Sophomore Micah Pierson could see a larger role on Friday at running back, and Amauryion Thompson will come up from the junior varsity.
Quarterback Luke Wolf is the Red Raiders’ leading rusher with 25 carries for 156 yards and two touchdowns.
Friday is Legacy's homecoming.