HS FOOTBALL: Tenaha 35, Iola, 14
Tenaha (12-0) faces Iola 7 p.m. tonight at Westwood-Palestine High School in one 2A-Div. II Region 3 semifinal, while Timpson plays Grapeland 7 p.m. Friday at Rusk High School in the other.
This week’s 2A-Div. II
Region 3 playoff games
• Tenaha vs. Iola
• Timpson vs. Grapeland
Last week’s 2A-Div. II
Region 3 playoff games
• Tenaha 51, Gateway Charter 0
• Timpson 14, Bremond 11
• Grapeland 49, Cumby 34
• Iola 50, Maud 0
Tenaha High School football coach Craig Horn took advantage of last Friday’s afternoon playoff game to scout two games later that night.
So, after his team dispatched Gateway Charter 51-0 at Mabank High School in the 2A-Div. II Region 3 quarterfinals, Horn caught the first half of Iola’s 50-0 win over Maud and the second half of Timpson’s dramatic 14-11 upset of three-time defending state champion Bremond.
Tenaha (13-0) faces Iola 7 p.m. Friday at Westwood-Palestine High School in one semifinal, while Timpson plays Grapeland 7 p.m. Friday at Rusk High School in the other.
In Iola, Tenaha has a rematch of last year’s semifinal, which it won 44-0. Horn says this year’s Iola team is much better than last year’s squad.
“I don’t know if they’ll be the best defense we’ve played from a sheer talent standpoint, but they will be the best defense we played from an effort standpoint,” Horn said “The kids play very hard. They’re relentless. They are very athletic up front. The defensive line is very good – the best we’ve seen so far.”
Iola has shut out its first two playoff opponents by a combined 101-0 margin (51-0 vs. Mt. Enterprise and 50-0 vs. Maud). Likewise, Tenaha has yet to give up points in the playoffs with a 74-0 win over Colmesneil and the 51-0 win over Gateway Charter.
Iola (8-5), the District 12 champion, shutout every district opponent except Evadale, which it beat 20-14 in overtime.
The key for Tenaha will be its offensive line winning more battles in the trenches than Iola’s defensive line so that Tigers runners can get past the line of scrimmage.
“They are going to give us trouble up front,” Horn said. “If we can negate their defensive line, after that it becomes a speed issue. We’ll have an overwhelming speed advantage in a lot of places.”
While Tenaha is a faster team, the fastest player on the field will be Iola speedster Tyler Dykes, who is force in the secondary in stopping big plays and is the core of the offense.
Dykes plays wide receiver, but also frequently takes a direct snap out of a wild cat formation. Against Maud, he ran for touchdowns of 73, 55 and 17 yards and threw for another.
“He looked like a high school kids playing against Pee-wee kids,” Horn said. “He looked like Carl Lewis.”
Iola is also likely to employ some trickery or gadget plays, which adds a level of preparation to the mix.
“You don’t what other crazy stuff have they You-Tubed,” Horn said. “We have to prepare for crazy things. One score can be the difference in the game. The important thing is to not let them get behind you down field.”
Horn candidly said that he equally could see Tenaha winning 50-0 or being locked in a 7-7 dogfight.
“If our offensive line plays well – at the worst it needs to be stalemate – we’ll be fine,” Horn said. “If we are getting napalmed, we will have to eck out points.”
Last Friday, Tenaha had little trouble in its rematch with it Sept. 15 opponent Gateway Charter. Tenaha won the first meeting 53-0. This time around, Tenaha was able to overcome five fumbles and strong winds that made passing difficult.
Tenaha jumped out to 16-0 first quarter lead as C.J. Horn capped the team’s opening drive with a 1-yard run.
The Tigers went up 9-0 after blocking a Gateway punt out of the end zone. Adding insult to injury, Jay Lloyd returned the ensuing free kick 55 yards for a touchdown.
The lead grew to 30-0 by halftime on Onterio Thompson’s 17-yard run and Horn’s second touchdown off a 2-yard dive.
Tenaha added three scores in the third quarter before pulling most of its starters.
Horn hit Gardner for a 36-yard touchdown pass, LaDarrius Garrett scored on a 17-yard run and Horn connected with Gardner again from 17-yards out.
2017 Tenaha Tigers
Sept. 1 W vs. Joaquin 23-22
Sept. 8 W @ Kerens 28-9
Sept. 15 W Gateway Chtr. 53-0
Sept. 22 W vs. Clarksville 62-6
Sept. 29 BYE
Oct. 6 W @ West Sabine 65-0
Oct. 14 W vs. KIPP NE 66-6
Oct. 20 W vs. Wortham* 69-8
Oct. 27 W @Grapeland* 49-0
Nov. 3 W vs. Overton* 59-6
Nov. 10 W @Timpson* 40-8
Nov. 16 W 74-0 vs. Colmesneil***
Nov. 24: W vs. Charter Gateway*** 51-0
Dec. 1 vs. Iola, 7 p.m.