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Second-Ranked Tenaha Starts New Season At Home Against Joaquin

Tenaha’s Keontas Davis (left) fights to get open during an Aug. 9 practice at Tenaha High School. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Joaquin Rams

vs.

No. 2 Tenaha Tigers

7:30 p.m. Friday

Tiger Stadium, Tenaha

Coaches
  • Joaquin: Wayne Gandy
  • Tenaha: Terry Ward

 

Last season
  • Joaquin def. Tenaha, 22-6

 

Next week
  • Joaquin: vs. Shelbyville, Sept. 6
  • Tenaha: at Garrison, Sept. 6

 

Playmakers

Joaquin

  • QB/LB Lance Lawson, Sr., 6-3, 210
  • RB/DB Gage Belrose, Sr., 6-1, 170
  • DE Keith Ferguson, Sr., 6-0, 200
  • OL/DL Adam Mason, Jr., 5-8, 190
  • OL Nathan Boyter, Sr., 6-3, 230
  • RB Jonathon Rico, Jr., 5-8, 157
  • LB Marzaveon Cooper, Sr., 6-0, 180

 

Tenaha

  • RB Chavis Gregory, Sr., 5-10, 210
  • WR/DB Keontas Davis, Sr., 6-1, 160
  • DL Denzelle Williams, Sr., 5-11, 190
  • QB J.R. Hill, Sr., 5-11, 160
  • RB Cobe Caraway, Jr., 5-8, 165
  • LB Jacoby Ivy, Sr., 5-10, 185
  • WR DeAndre Thomas, Jr., 6-1, 160

 

Just the facts
  • Joaquin has made the playoffs in eight of the last 11 years, compiling a 83-42 record since 2002.
  • The Rams’ undefeated 2012 regular season was their first since 1990.
  • Joaquin averaged 34.2 points per game, while its defense allowed opponents 16.2 a game.
  • The Rams’ offense was very run heavy in 2012. Joaquin averaged 343.5 rushing yards per game, but just 37.8 through the air.
  • If Tenaha reaches the state title game in 2013, it will mark the first time a Class A team has reached three consecutive finals since 1969-71.
  • The Tigers will be shooting for their eighth consecutive playoff appearance this season. Tenaha is 70-20 since 2006.
  • Tenaha began last season 2-4 before reeling off eight consecutive wins to reach the 1A Division II championship game.
  • In 2012, Tenaha averaged 30.5 points per game and allowed 20.2.

 

Key matchup: Joaquin running game vs. Tenaha rush defense. As mentioned above, Joaquin’s offensive approach calls for a heavy does of running plays. The Rams attempted just 39 passes in 11 games all season last year, so it’s clear where Joaquin likes to do its damage. Joaquin graduated last season’s 1,300-yard rusher Wyatt Hairgrove and as well as the trio of Nick Cheatwood, WIll Vaughn and Tra Rogers that combined for 2,020 yards in 2012. So several new faces will have to step up in order for Joaquin to replicate its rushing totals from a season ago. Belrose, Rico and Lawson figure to be the new men in charge of Joaquin’s rushing attack. If the Rams can’t find steady production in the running game or fall behind early, it could be a long night for Joaquin.

Joaquin ATH Gage Belrose. (Courtesy photo)

While Joaquin is dealing with heavy-duty personnel turnover on offense, Tenaha brings back all but one of its defensive starters from 2012. Even with all the youth and inexperience Tenaha had a season ago, the Tigers’ defense still managed to hold Joaquin to its third-lowest rushing output of the year. Tenaha is expected to be strong at all three levels of its defense this fall with the return of Williams on the line, Ivy at linebacker and Davis at defensive back. The Tigers have just as much firepower returning on offense, so it will be important for Tenaha’s defense to prevent Joaquin’s grind-it-out attack from eating up huge chunks of time and thus keeping Tenaha’s explosive offense off the field.

Don’t be surprised if: Tenaha controls the action on both sides of the ball. Joaquin did hand the Tigers a season-opening loss last season, but Tenaha was a much better team in December than it was in August. The Tigers figure to carry all of the momentum from last season’s run through the playoffs into this season, where Tenaha is a prohibitive favorite to return to the state title game for the third consecutive year. We’re not expecting a four-touchdown blowout, but we do feel as if fans will leave the game Friday night knowing that Tenaha was the better team.

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