[By Stephen Amason, Special to ETSN.fm]

Tenaha’s Greg Jenkins wasn’t about to tell his kids “no.”

“When the kids come to you and look you in the eye and say, ‘hey coach, we want you come back and be the head football coach’, you can’t say no,” said Jenkins, who is in his first season leading the football program.

Jenkins pulls double coaching duties for Tenaha. After football season is over, he’ll leave the football field for the basketball court as the boys head basketball coach.

“To be honest, I absolutely love football,” he said. “There’s nothing like the time you’re about to kick off on Friday night, it's probably one of the greatest feelings in the business. Football is the king in the state of Texas and I just happen to be one of those guys that loves both sports equally.

“It’s really not about me on why I came back, it’s really about the kids.”

Since Jenkins has taken the football job, the Tigers are more than halfway through their regular-season schedule with a record of 5-1 (1-0 in District 11-2A Division I). They dropped their first game of the season against Troup, 42-39, but since then they’ve reeled off an impressive five-straight victories.

“In that first game we had some kids out of position, we got burnt over the top on some passes,” Jenkins said. “We led that game 31-14 with five minutes to go and got beat, so we had to go back and evaluate ourselves. We’ve made some adjustments and the kids have responded over the last five games and we’ve been very, very pleased.”

As of late, Tenaha has looked like the Tigers that East Texas has grown accustomed to. They have one of the best offenses in their district, and it’s balanced, averaging 200 rushing yards per game and 203 passing.

“We just get so many kids involved,” Jenkins said. “Across the board if you look at us we got four running backs that can run it, four or five receivers that can catch it, and from anywhere at any time you just don’t know who we’re gonna get involved.”

Junior quarterback Hayden Jenkins has over 1,200 passing yards and 14 touchdowns passes on the year. Hayden, known for his skills on the basketball court, plays the quarterback position the same way he does the point-guard position in basketball.

“We knew he had a big arm and could really throw the football down the field, but we just didn't know if he could really manage the game,” Coach Jenkins said. “He started as a freshman for us on the basketball court and what we kinda tried to tell him was you gotta go out there and just play point guard. You got so many skill kids around you and a really good offensive line so, we’ve been pleased with him.”

The other side of that balanced offense has been the deep running attack from the Tigers, led by running back Jay Lloyd, who has accounted for more than 1,000 yards on the year with 12 touchdowns.

“He’s a weapon,” Coach Jenkins said. “What makes him so dangerous is him out of the back field ya know, we put him on routes and he catches screen passes. We’ll put him out at receiver, his versatility out of the backfield is just phenomenal, especially at our level.

“You don’t see that out of a lot of kids that have the ability to both run and catch the football. What we’ve been most pleased with is he’s just an unselfish blocker. He’s willing to block just as much as he’s willing to run, he’s a leader for us on both sides of the ball, he’s a really tough kid.”

Tenaha gets a bye this week, and even though it’s nice to get a rest, the Tigers are met with the challenge of staying ready for the tough district schedule in front of them.

“We’ve taken a little bit of a different approach to this bye week,” Coach Jenkins said. “We haven’t put any pads on this week, we’re still working. We’re trying to work on ourselves, trying to watch film and identify some things that we can get better on.

“The district is really, really tough, but the good thing about it is if you can get out of it you’re going to be preparing for a playoff run. If we can get through it healthy and in the right mental frame of mind, we got a chance to really be tested going into the playoffs.”

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