PREVIEW: Tenaha Faces Playoff Nemesis Muenster For State Championship
CLASS 2A DIVISION II
Tenaha Tigers (15-0)
Muenster Hornets (15-0)
11 a.m. Thursday
AT&T Stadium, Arlington
- Tenaha: Craig Horn
- Muenster: Brady Carney
- Tenaha: def. Burton, 60-22
- Muenster: def. Wellington, 31-28
- WR/S Trai Gardner, Sr., 6-0, 183 (56 catches, 1,204 yards, 18 TDs; 16 carries, 243 yards, 3 TDs; 17 tackles, 1 for loss, 2 INTs, 6 PBUs, 1 fumble recovery)
- RB Onterio Thompson, Sr., 5-10, 180 (174 carries, 2,462 yards, 34 TDs; 5 catches, 78 yards)
- QB CJ Horn, Sr., 6-0, 195 (135 of 171, 2,795 yards, 38 TDs, 3 INTs; 76 carries, 676 yards, 15 TDs)
- DL Jaurmez Brock, Jr., 6-1, 245 (123 tackles, 19 for loss, 6 sacks, 13 QB pressures, 2 forced fumbles, 2 recoveries)
- WR/DB Jay Lloyd, Jr., 5-11, 170 (33 catches, 600 yards, 9 TDs; 18 carries, 218 yards, 3 TDs; 61 tackles, 1 INT, 11 PBUs, 1 forced fumble)
- LB Tavoris Giles, Sr., 5-11, 190 (201 tackles, 7 for loss, 2 INTs, 3 PBUs, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovery)
- DB Trenton Soto, Jr. (111 tackles, 10 for loss, 1 sack, 8 QB pressures, 1 INT, 6 PBUs, 2 forced fumbles, 4 recoveries)
- LB Jordan Thompson, Sr., 5-10, 190 (68 tackles, 20 for loss, 4 sacks, 7 QB pressures, 1 fumble recovery)
- QB/DB Parker McGrew, Jr., 6-0, 185 (133 of 194, 2,531 yards, 39 TDs, 2 INTs; 143 carries, 1,121 yards, 17 TDs; 2 INTs, 1 fumble recovery)
- RB/DB Clay Stevens, Sr., 5-9, 170 (118 carries, 1,137 yards, 17 TDs; 18 catches, 445 yards, 7 TDs; 6 INTs, 2 fumble recoveries)
- WR/DB Danny Luttmer, Soph. (27 catches, 499 yards, 9 TDs; 3 INTs)
- RB/LB Seth Flusche, Sr. (39 carries, 477 yards, 6 TDs; 5 catches, 37 yards; 1 INT, 2 fumble recoveries)
- RB/LB Carson Trubenbach, Sr. (42 carries, 324 yards, 6 TDs; 20 catches, 398 yards, 5 TDs; 1 INT, 2 fumble recoveries)
- RB/DL Kagen Dangelmayr, Sr. (13 carries, 165 yards, 3 TDs; 16 catches, 229 yards, 4 TDs; 1 INT, 2 fumble recoveries)
Just the facts
- Tenaha averages 52.9 points and 490 yards per game -- 299 rushing and 191 passing.
- Tenaha allows an average of 6.6 points per game, and has forced 32 turnovers -- 12 interceptions and 20 fumbles.
- Tenaha's opponents this season have a cumulative record of 75-75 (.500).
- Tenaha and Muenster last met in the 2015 regional finals, a 33-16 Muenster win.
- Muenster averages 52.7 points and 444.8 yards per game -- 272.3 rushing and 172.5 passing.
- Muenster allows an average of 6.7 points per game, and has forced 33 turnovers -- 16 interceptions and 17 fumbles.
- Muenster's opponents this season have a cumulative record of 95-82 (.537).
- Muenster lost to eventual state champion Bremond in the semifinals after eliminating Tenaha from the 2015 playoffs.
Key matchup: Tenaha rushing attack vs. Muenster defensive front. The Tenaha Tigers pride themselves on being balanced offensively. They are one of the few teams at the small-school level that are just as dangerous with the passing game as they are on the ground. However, it's hard to discount the importance of Tenaha senior running back Onterio Thompson.
Thompson enters Thursday's 2A Division II championship game with 2,462 yards and 34 touchdowns on the season. And he's been remarkably consistent all year. Thompson has been limited to less than 100 yards rushing in a game just once, and that was all the way back on Sept. 1 in the season opener. Ever since, Thompson has hit triple digits and scored at least one touchdown in every game, a streak of 14 straight.
Muenster counters with a menacing defensive front that's abnormally big for the 2A classification. The Hornets allow less than seven points per game, and the biggest reason why is their ability to shut down the opposition's running attack.
If Muenster is able to curtail Thompson's prowess on the ground, Tenaha still has a dynamic passing game led by quarterback CJ Horn and receiver Trai Gardner to fall back on. Horn has passed for almost 2,800 yards with 38 touchdowns and only three interceptions in 171 attempts. Meanwhile, Gardner is one of the most dynamic players in the state at the 2A level. He has caught 56 passes for 1,204 yards and 18 touchdowns, and is coming off perhaps his best performance of the season. In last week's 60-22 semifinal rout of Burton, Gardner scored four touchdowns three different ways. He caught scoring passes of 71 and 52 yards, ran for a 65-yard score, and returned an interception 95 yards for a touchdown.
However, Tenaha didn't really get going last week until the second half when Thompson erupted for 224 of his 241 rushing yards. His second-half touchdown runs covered 56, 30, and 73 yards. The Tigers will need more of the same if they want to have similar success on offense this week.
Don't be surprised if: The first half of Thursday's game is crucial to its outcome. Neither Tenaha or Muenster have been involved in many tight games this year. In fact, each team's average margin of victory this season is roughly 46 points. Tenaha hasn't had a contest decided by less than 19 points since its 23-22 Week 1 win over Joaquin. Muenster, meanwhile, had not had a game decided by less than 16 points until last week's 31-28 semifinal defeat of Wellington.
One of these teams will find themselves in the unfamiliar position of trailing at one point in the game, and if the spread becomes larger than a score or two, it will be interesting to see how the trailing team responds.