On Friday night, for the 65th time, the Lions and the Red Raiders will square off at Christus Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium, to determine who will have year-long bragging rights in the city of Tyler.
“The kids are going to come out, they are going to be very passionate, the coaches are going to be very passionate about the ball game,” said former John Tyler running back, Corneilius Shackelford. “This is the battle of the city, and this game has meant a lot to a lot of people.”
“Especially during these times it’s a very unifying event, it’s a community event, we’re very blessed to be able to do it, you know, to participate in one of the great rivalries from across the state,” said Tyler ISD superintendent Marty Crawford.
This will also be Tyler Legacy head coach, Joe Willis’ first go around in this rivalry, while Ricklan Holmes grew up with blue in his veins.
“I’m excited about it, both schools stand to benefit from it, it’s a great thing anytime you have a community that can come together and watch a big game like that, and take a lot of pride in that, I’m excited about it,” said Willis.
“Welcoming Joe Willis to Tyler, Texas letting him know that he has a good football team on the other side of town, but we also got to let everybody know we’ve got a good football team on this side of town,” said Holmes.
For the previous 64 meetings, it was J.T. versus Lee, but after a contentious process, these two now go by Tyler High and Tyler Legacy, and this week’s matchup will go down in history, as the first football contest, under the new names.
“I’m excited about it because there were a lot of things that hung over these two schools and a lot of things that were in the past, that belong in the past and just to have a fresh start, a clean slate,” said Shackelford.
“It’s tough on that name change, and people are going to continue to say the same thing probably for a generation of two, advertently or inadvertently, but at the same time it’s all about what’s going to happen,” said Crawford. “Friday night is going to be a great example of putting our kids on the field, to truly have that athletic experience, but it also equates into academic experiences as well.”
The names may be different, and the stands this year won’t be as packed, but when it comes to the Rose City Rivalry, this kind of passion, never changes.
Watch the video to see Garrett Sanders’ story.
Lions and Red Raiders kickoff at 7:30 p.m. Friday and we will have it on TV for you.
Watch every play on “KTPN The Z” beginning with a 7:00 p.m. pregame show.
KTPN can be seen on channel 51.2 with an over the air digital antenna, or on Suddenlink cable channel 9 in Tyler.