With win over Dragons, Tenaha Tigers advance in playoffs

Tigers advance to Area Round 2 p.m. Friday in Palestine against Centerville
The Tenaha Tigers advance to the Area Round of the playoffs! They will take on Centerville at 2 p.m. Friday, Nov. 23, at Palestine High School. Tickets $6 for adults and $4 students at the gate. All district, THSCA, and Senior Citizen passes accepted. Tenaha will be the home team.

Friday night marked a momentous occasion for Shelby County. For the first time in history, all five Shelby County football teams qualified for playoffs in the same season.

Two of those teams found themselves pitted against one another. The Shelbyville Dragons and the Tenaha Tigers traveled to Waskom to battle it out in the first round of Texas 2A Division I football playoffs. These two teams clashed in a preseason scrimmage, so it’s fitting that they should meet in the post season.

Shelbyville came out of the gate with purpose. Their first drive resulted in a huge 80-yard rushing touchdown courtesy of Kel Wilson. Wilson saw increased usage within the Dragons’ offense after Slade Smith’s season ended in San Augustine with a broken collarbone.

Tenaha’s Jordan Marshall made sure that the Dragons’ lead didn’t last long when he crossed the goal line for the Tigers. Jeremy Patton added a second score to the Tigers’ total. Junior quarterback Hayden Jenkins made a strong showing in the passing game. He ended the night with three passing touchdowns. Two of those went to wide receiver JaQualin Franks and one went to Eric Smith.

Senior running back Jay Lloyd has been a force for the Tigers all year, and round one of playoff action was no different. Lloyd played a large part in Tenaha’s success. He ended the night with two touchdowns.

One of those touchdowns was a true showcase of Lloyd’s speed and elusiveness as he scored on a 77-yard touchdown run.

“It felt very good. They’re a good team, a nice opponent,” Lloyd said. “They had a good defensive plan, but our guys executed up front and all our running backs got behind them and carried the weight.”

Teneha Head Coach Greg Jenkins said he was pleased with the team's performance.

“If you can run the football at this time of the year like we did tonight you’re going to win football games,” he said. “We don’t ever make excuses, but when we played Joaquin and Garrison we didn’t have our line all together. We were missing our left tackle that night, and it caused some other things to get out of whack.

“I’m not taking anything away from Garrison or Joaquin, but when we’re at full speed on the offensive line we think we can run the ball with anybody, and we just kind of imposed our will there a little bit and threw it when we could,” he said.

“I’m just pleased. We talked about running the ball for two weeks in a row,” Jenkins said. “We went for about 350 last week and I believe we’re going to be pretty close to that again this week.

“You’ve got to be able to run the football this time of the year if you plan on winning, for sure,” he said.

Shelbyville fought hard throughout this game but were unable to overcome Tenaha’s offensive firepower. Shelbyville junior Jaylon Brinson is no stranger to the endzone, and Friday night he made yet another appearance there.

Sawyer Hendricks is a name that most Dragon fans will associate with defense, but the senior made a case for himself as an offensive playmaker as well. Hendricks took a direct snap from freshman center Eli Taylor and went for around 30 yards and a touchdown draped in Tiger defenders the whole way.

It was an impressive display of strength from the senior who held nothing back during his final football game as a Shelbyville Dragon. Despite the loss, Shelbyville’s season can only be seen as a success.

This year’s playoff appearance follows a disappointing 2-8 season during their 2017 campaign. A new head football coach in David Benbow and a new offensive look seem to have been just what the doctor ordered for the Dragons.

When asked about the success this year Coach David Benbow didn’t hesitate for an instant.

“Senior leadership, senior leadership, senior leadership,” Benbow said. “They were a tremendous class that had been through a lot over the years. They let us coach them.

“I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, they allowed us to coach them,” he said. “They trusted us when we probably didn’t deserve to have their trust early on with all they had been through, but because of that we are where we are.” Benbow said.

One season ends, and another truly begins as the Tenaha Tigers look to continue their tradition of fielding a strong football team. Last year the Tigers fell in the 2A Division II State Championship game, but this year, their goal is the top spot in 2A Division I.

Before the Tigers can get there, they will need to get through Centerville, their next opponent. While this article is being written, the time and date of this round two matchup is yet to be determined, but fans can rest assured that more Tiger football will be heading their way this week.