No. 9 Alto Yellow Jackets (1-1)

vs.

No. 6 Tenaha Tigers (1-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Tiger Stadium, Tenaha

Coaches
  • Alto: Paul Gould
  • Tenaha: Terry Ward

 

Last week
  • Alto: defeated Groveton, 47-27
  • Tenaha: lost to Garrison, 17-10

 

Next week
  • Alto: vs. Frankston
  • Tenaha: at West Sabine

 

Playmakers

Alto

  • RB Jacolby Whitaker, Sr., 5-10, 193 (36 carries, 312 yards, 5 TD; 4 catches, 63 yards)
  • QB Zac Sturns, Sr., 6-2, 175 (11-of-19, 202 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT; 38 carries, 339 yards, 5 TD)
  • ATH JaVie'Ontae Mumphrey, Jr., 6-3, 215 (2 catches, 84 yards, 2 TD)
  • WR Anfernee Black, Sr., 6-0, 200 (1 catch, 16 yards)
  • WR/DB Leroy Lewis, Jr., 6-0, 175
  • OL Luis Alverado, Soph., 5-10, 230

 

Tenaha

  • QB J.R. Hill, Sr., 5-11, 160 (11-of-22, 238 yards, 4 TD, 2 INT; 17 carries, 152 yards, TD)
  • WR/DB Keontas Davis, Sr., 6-1, 160 (3 catches, 134 yards, 3 TD; 8 tackles, INT, 4 pass break-ups)
  • RB/DB Cobe Caraway, Jr., 5-8, 165 (18 carries, 229 yards, 2 TD; 9 tackles, 1 pass break-up)
  • DL Denzelle Williams, Sr., 5-11, 190 (14 tackles, 7 for loss, 3 sacks)
  • RB/LB Chavis Gregory, Sr., 5-10, 210 (16 carries, 47 yards; 15 tackles, 1 for loss)
  • LB Jacoby Ivy, Sr., 5-10, 185 (25 tackles, 4 for loss, 2 sacks, 1 pass break-up)

 

Just the facts
  • Friday's matchup pits two of the top 1A programs in the state against one another. Since 2006, Alto is 72-18 and Tenaha has compiled a 71-21 record with the two combining for three state titles.
  • Alto has made the playoffs in 20 of the last 21 seasons.
  • The Yellow Jackets have not lost more than five games in a season since 1987.
  • The combined record of the three teams that defeated Alto in 2012 -- Groveton, San Augustine and Mart -- was 26-11.
  • Tenaha has won at least 10 games in 11 of the last 21 seasons.
  • If the Tigers reach the state championship game this season, they will become the first Class A team to advance to three straight state finals since 1971.
  • Tenaha had only one senior -- De'Aaron Roland -- on last season's 1A D-II state finalist team.
  • All four of Tenaha's 2012 regular-season losses came to playoff teams.

 

Alto RB Jacolby Whitaker. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Tenaha running game vs. Alto defensive front. Garrison may have come up with a blueprint on how to limit the Tigers' effectiveness. After piling up over 300 rushing yards in a season-opening win over Joaquin, Tenaha managed just 136 and averaged a shade over three yards per carry in its lost last week. Tenaha's inability to find success on the ground forced the Tigers into trying to make things happen through the air, but quarterback J.R. Hill completed only 6-of-16 attempts for 80 yards and threw to interceptions. Senior running back Chavis Gregory has yet to find his stride in 2013 after leading the team with more 1,400 yards last season. Through two games, Gregory has been held to 47 yards and a 2.94 yards-per-carry average. Hill and Cobe Caraway have picked up the slack, but Tenaha needs its workhorse to rediscover his form from a season ago.

Tenaha's Chavis Gregory runs the ball during the Tigers' 47-6 season-opening home win against Joaquin on Aug. 30. (Ray Jackson, ETSN.fm)

Alto needs a solid game from its men up front in order to shut down the Tenaha ground attack. The more the Yellow Jackets can keep Tenaha from controlling tempo, the more opportunities it will create for an offense that put up 47 points and rushed for six touchdowns last week. There may not be a more explosive QB-RB combo in 1A than Alto's duo of Zac Sturns and Jacolby Whitaker, but for those two to continue to put up impressive numbers, the defense must first do its job.

Don't be surprised if: There are big plays made all over the field Friday night. The quality of offensive skill players that will be on display is rare at the 1A level and should make for an exciting night of football. Tenaha will be trying to avoid consecutive losses, while Alto looks to build off its first win of the season. Both teams have aspirations of playing deep into December and both have realistic shots of bringing home state titles, so more could be at stake here than your average Week 2 matchup. The title of best 1A team in East Texas could be on the line.