CLASS 2A DIVISION II
Region III Semifinal

Tenaha Tigers (9-1)

vs.

Normangee Panthers (8-4)

6 p.m. Friday
Panther Stadium, Bullard

 

Coaches
  • Tenaha: Terry Ward
  • Normangee: Kevin Morton

 

Last week

 

Next week
  • Winner faces winner between Chilton and Iola, 2A Division II Region III final

 

Playmakers

Tenaha

  • RB/S Cobe Caraway, Sr., 5-8, 168 (152 carries, 1,772 yards, 26 TDs; 37 tackles, 2 INTs, 5 PBU, fumble recovery)
  • WR/DB D'Andre Thomas, Sr., 6-2, 175 (31 catches, 576 yards, 7 TDs; 14 carries, 83 yards, 2 TDs; 26 tackles, 3 for loss, INT, 10 PBUs)
  • WR Colton Goeke, Jr., 6-1, 165 (27 catches, 451 yards, 4 TDs)
  • QB/DB TJ Thomas, Sr., 5-8, 160 (63 of 119, 1,068 yards, 11 TDs, 3 INTs; 76 carries, 430 yards, 6 TDs; 78 tackles, 4 for loss, 5 INTs, 2 PBUs)
  • LB Da'Marcus Perry, Sr. (123 tackles, 14 for loss, 6 sacks, INT, PBU, forced fumble, recovery)
  • RB/DB Markevaus Reed, Sr., 5-11, 160 (51 carries, 439 yards, 5 TDs; 48 tackles, 1 for loss, 2 INTs, PBU)
  • DB Seth Wyatt, Sr. (26 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 PBUs)
  • LB DiCarlo Dudley, Jr. (42 tackles, 5 for loss, 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, recovery)

 

Normangee

  • QB Colton Jones, Sr., 6-1, 175 (34 of 74, 598 yards, 7 TDs, 3 INTs; 81 carries, 652 yards, 7 TDs)
  • RB Bryson Cornish, Jr., 6-0, 225 (103 carries, 553 yards, 8 TDs; 4 catches, 54 yards)
  • WR Austin Aguirre, Jr. (24 catches, 341 yards, 5 TDs; 27 carries, 103 yards, TD)
  • WR Joshua  Noey, Sr., 5-11, 165 (17 catches, 127 yards; 3 carries, 10 yards)
  • RB Ty Jordan, Soph. (32 carries, 275 yards, 5 TDs)

 

Just the facts
  • Under head coach Terry Ward, Tenaha is 64-13, including a 16-4 mark in the playoffs.
  • Since suffering a 72-21 loss to Alto in Week 5, Tenaha has won six straight games with an average margin of victory of 29.8 points.
  • For the season, Tenaha is averaging 39.8 points and 419.2 yards per game -- 310.8 rushing and 108.4 passing.
  • Tenaha is allowing 23.2 points per game -- 20.3 during its current six-game winning streak.
  • The Tigers have 19 sacks as a team and have forced 20 turnovers -- 15 interceptions and five fumble recoveries.
  • The cumulative record of Tenaha's opponents this season is 55-51.
  • For the season, Normangee is averaging 31.7 points and 292.9 yards per game -- 206.5 rushing and 86.4 passing.
  • The cumulative record of Normangee's opponents this season is 65-61.

 

Tenaha's Cobe Caraway runs for yardage during the Tigers' 40-26 win over Hubbard in their Class 2A Division I area playoff Friday night in Lindale. (Ray Jackson, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Tenaha rushing attack vs. Normangee defensive front. There aren't many more productive players in all of East Texas than Tenaha senior running back Cobe Caraway, who is enjoying a tremendous season. Caraway enters Friday night's playoff game against Normangee with more than 1,700 yards and 26 touchdowns in 10 games. Caraway has been held to less than 100 yards in a game just once this season, and ever since, the speedster has eclipsed the 200-yard mark every time out. Over his last four games, Caraway is averaging 242 yards and has scored 17 touchdowns. Furthermore, Caraway will bring a yards-per-carry average of 11.7 into Friday's action. Stopping Caraway and the explosive Tenaha rushing attack, which is averaging well over 300 yards a week, will be priority No. 1 for the Normangee defense. Despite the productive nature of Tenaha's running game, the Tigers are more than capable of making big plays through the air. Senior quarterback TJ Thomas has thrown for more than 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns on the year. Senior wideout D'Andre Thomas averages more than 18 yards per reception and has caught seven of the Tigers' 11 passing touchdowns in the season. But without a doubt, the focus for Normangee's defense will be containing Caraway and Co. out of the backfield.

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)

Normangee's defense is allowing 22.6 points per game on the season, but since its 0-3 start, the Panthers are only surrendering an average of 18.6. While Tenaha hasn't been challenged since its Week 5 game against Alto, Normangee has faced three unbeatens on the year -- Mart, Iola and Lindsay. The Panthers suffered a 60-8 loss to Mart and 57-12 defeat vs. Iola, but scored a 40-21 defeat of Lindsay in their area-round playoff last week. Normangee has picked up confidence since its three-game losing streak that began the season, and with knocking off a previously unbeaten team the previous week, the Panthers' confidence could be at an all-time high this week against Tenaha. However, only four teams have held Caraway to less than 200 rushing yards in a game this season, and in order to pull the upset, Normangee must not let Caraway and the Tenaha rushing attack to dictate the game's tempo. Forcing the Tigers into obvious passing situations will no doubt put Normangee's defense into advantageous situations.

Tenaha's Colton Goeke looks for room to run during the Tigers' 26-15 win at White Oak on Sept. 19. (Ray Jackson, ETSN.fm)

Don't be surprised if: Tenaha does a better job of finishing this week. The Tigers held a 33-8 lead early in the fourth quarter of last week's playoff win, but allowed three touchdowns in the game's next 10 minutes, which cut the deficit to seven points with a little under two minutes remaining. Fortunately for Tenaha, TJ Thomas returned the ensuing onside-kick attempt 47 yards for a touchdown to shut the door on Hubbard's furious comeback attempt. Even though Tenaha survived, the Tigers may have learned a valuable lesson about the importance of finishing games in the playoffs. If Tenaha is fortunate enough to build a big lead early, expect the Tigers to do a much better job of keeping the pressure on Normangee for the rest of the night. The importance of getting off to a fast start is key for Tenaha, which is facing a team that is full of confidence as it has won eight of its last nine games. The longer Normangee remains within striking distance, the harder it will be for Tenaha to capture momentum.