Battling injuries to several key starters, the Tyler Junior College Apaches try to close out the season Saturday on a positive note by hosting the Northeastern A&M Golden Norsemen at 2 p.m. in Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium.
“We've lost three starters on defense, including sophomore linebacker Garrett Roget with a broken hand last week,” Tyler head coach Danny Palmer said. “Then, we have a running back (O'Bryan Bell) that's slowed by a groin pull.”
The Apaches enter the final game tied with NEO and Arkansas Baptist at 2-3 in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference. After dropping a 48-27 decision to Trinity Valley last weekend, Tyler is 3-5 on the season.
Last year the Apaches overcame a 24-0 halftime deficit en route to a 41-34 win over the Norsemen. NEO has a slim 20-19-1 edge in the series which started in 1954.
“This is a game our kids always look forward to because it's always a very tough, physical contest,” Palmer said. “We're going to let everything out since this will be like our post-season bowl game. Both of us will be playing for pride and something positive to carry into the off season.”
Predominately a run-oriented offense, the Apaches have generated only 661 yards via the pass.
Sophomore tailback Ira Duckworth (6-0, 185 of Houston, Texas) has rushed for 594 yards on 90 carries with three touchdowns.
The injured freshman Bell (5-10, 190 of Whitehouse, Texas) has rushed for 627 yards on 92 carries with seven TDs.
Veteran Stephen Schwark (6-2, 210 of Mesquite, Texas) has completed 45 of 81 passes for 289 yards and one TD with three interceptions.
Tyler's defense ranks fourth in the SWJCFC by allowing an average of 332.4 total yards per game.
Sophomore strong safety Jacolby Reed (5-10, 170 of Houston, Texas) leads the Apaches with 64 total tackles.
Veteran linebacker Bradley Bullitt (6-0, 227 of Garland, Texas) has made 54 total tackles with two quarterback sacks.
Sophomore cornerback Calvin Rubles (6-2, 180 of Dallas, Texas) leads the Apaches with two interceptions while recording 25 total tackles and three fumble recoveries.