Alto Yellow Jackets (3-0)

vs.

No. 3 Tenaha Tigers (3-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday
Tiger Stadium, Tenaha

 

Coaches
  • Alto: Paul Gould
  • Tenaha: Terry Ward

 

Last week

 

Next week
  • Alto: idle
  • Tenaha: idle

 

Playmakers

Alto

  • WR/LB JaVie'Ontae Mumphrey, Sr., 6-3, 208 (3 catches, 29 yards; 2 carries, 44 yards, TD)
  • WR/DE Tyarius Hackett, Sr., 5-11, 195 (3 catches, 51 yards, TD; 6 carries, 18 yards,  TDs)
  • WR/DB Leroy Lewis, Sr. (2 catches, 26 yards; 7 carries, 47 yards, TD)
  • QB Keenen Johnson, Jr. (21 of 33, 409 yards, 7 TDs, 0 INTs; 35 carries, 549 yards, 7 TDs)
  • RB/DB Jyran Shaw, Sr., 5-7, 150 (21 carries, 163 yards, 2 TDs; 3 catches, 29 yards, TD)
  • WR/DB L'Darius Pope, Sr. (4 catches, 147 yards, 3 TDs; 1 carry, 7 yards)
  • WR David Berryman, Sr. (4 catches, 105 yards, 2 TDs; 1 carry, 13 yards)
  • OL/DL Hunter Harwell, Sr.

 

Tenaha

  • RB/DB Cobe Caraway, Sr., 5-8, 170 (66 carries, 593 yards, 7 TDs; 9 tackles, 1 INT, 3 PBU)
  • QB/DB TJ Thomas, Sr., 5-8, 160 (24 of 47, 302 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs; 31 carries, 131 yards; 15 tackles, 1 PBU)
  • WR/DB D'Andre Thomas, Sr., 6-2, 170 (14 catches, 196 yards, 3 TDs; 6 carries, 60 yards, TD; 7 tackles, 1 for loss, 2 PBU)
  • RB/DB Markevaus Reed, Sr., 5-11, 160 (26 carries, 258 yards, 2 TDs; 18 tackles, 1 INT, 1 PBU)
  • WR Colton Goeke, Jr., 6-1, 165 (9 catches, 98 yards)
  • LB DiCarlo Dudley, Jr. (19 tackles)
  • DL Da'Marcus Perry, Sr. (33 tackles, 5 for loss, 2 sacks)
  • DL Blaine Cummings, Jr. (24 tackles)

 

Just the facts
  • Since dropping to the state's lowest 11-man classification prior to the 2006 season, Alto is 83-21.
  • Under coach Terry Ward, who took over before the 2009 season, Tenaha is 58-12.
  • Alto and Tenaha have combined for three state titles and four championship game appearances since 2006.
  • Alto and Tenaha have met in each of the last five seasons, with Tenaha winning three of the matchups, including a 2009 playoff game.
  • Alto is averaging 55 points and 441.7 yards per game -- 295 rushing and 146.7 passing.
  • Alto has reached the playoffs in 10 consecutive seasons, and 21 of the last 22 years.
  • Tenaha is averaging 28.7 points and 463 yards per game -- 362.3 rushing and 100.7 passing.
  • Tenaha has reached the playoffs in eight consecutive seasons, sporting an 84-22 record in the process.

 

Alto RB Jyran Shaw. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Alto rushing attack vs. Tenaha defensive front. Through three games, Alto's ground game has proven difficult to stop. Between junior quarterback Keenen Johnson and running back Jyran Shaw, the Yellow Jackets have plenty of speed to burn in the offensive backfield. But while Johnson and Shaw have combined for the bulk of Alto's rushing attempts this far, the 'Jackets are far from just a two-man show on offense. Johnson and Shaw have 56 rushing attempts between them, but eight other Alto players have taken turns carrying the ball, which could become a big advantage in the 'Jackets' favor. While both schools are two of the smallest in the ETSN.fm coverage area, Alto does have a fairly significant advantage in enrollment. Alto plays in a higher classification in 2A with 194 students, compared to Tenaha's 142. While Johnson has been more than adept at cutting up opposing defenses through the air, as evidenced by his 409 passing yards and seven touchdowns, Alto would much prefer to dictate tempo with the ground game. And why not? The 'Jackets are averaging 295 rushing yards per game, at a clip of 10.2 yards per carry. In addition, 14 of Alto's 21 offensive touchdowns have come via the rush.

White Oak quarterback Cordelle Smith looks for a receiver under pressure from Tenaha's Da'Marcus Perry during their game Sept. 19 in White Oak. (Ray Jackson, ETSN.fm)

Tenaha's defense, which has held its first three opponents to an average of just 12.7 points per game, is strong up front and at the back end. The defensive line combination of senior Da'Marcus Perry and junior Blaine Cummings have already amassed a whopping 57 tackles in only three games, while junior linebacker DiCarlo Dudley has 19 stops on the young season. If Tenaha can keep Alto's explosive backfield from consistently picking up first downs and scoring touchdowns, the Tigers stand an excellent chance at improving to 4-0 on the year. Alto is too talented at quarterback and running back to be completely held in check, but limiting big plays will be a primary area of focus for Tenaha's defense this week. The Tigers have a strong defensive backfield, led by Cobe Caraway, TJ Thomas, D'Andre Thomas and Markevaus Reed, which will be important if Alto's backs are able to break through the second level. For Tenaha, preventing 10- and 15-yard runs from becoming 40- and 50-yard bursts may end up being what decides Friday night's showdown of Class 2A elites.

Alto WR L'Darius Pope. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Don't be surprised if: Each team is able to come up with big plays in the passing game. Just like Alto, Tenaha's rushing attack is what ignites the Tigers' offense. Through three weeks, Tenaha is putting up more than 360 yards on the ground per game. Caraway is one of East Texas' most explosive backs. After turning in a laser-timed 4.43 40-yard dash at the ETSN.fm + APEC Football Recruiting Combine back in June, Caraway has begun the 2014 season on fire. He leads the Tigers with almost 600 rushing yards and seven touchdowns, averaging just a shade less than nine yards per carry. Quarterback TJ Thomas and Reed have been effective on the ground as well, but Tenaha has shown a penchant for torching opposing defenses through the air. TJ Thomas is averaging 100 yards and one passing touchdown per game, while D'Andre Thomas has been on the receiving end of all three of Tenaha's touchdown passes, carrying an average of 14 yards per catch. Alto, too has shown the capability of exposing opposing secondaries. Johnson's completed just 21 passes on the year, but seven of them have gone for touchdowns. L'Darius Pope and David Berryman lead the Alto receiving corps with a combined five touchdown receptions, but nine different Yellow Jackets have caught at least one pass this season.