Tenaha’s First Four Wins Are Some of the Most Dominant in Texas High School Football
It's one thing to be unstoppable. It's another to be both unstoppable and impenetrable.
But that's the Tenaha Tigers in a nutshell so far in 2016.
Four games, four wins, three shutouts, 12 total points allowed and 42 points per game on offense.
"We've been exceptional, I'd say. We're far from perfect, but we have good kids who do a good job of preparing," Tenaha coach Craig Horn said. "They're focused on all the little things you have to do to win."
After opening the season with a 14-0 shutout of Joaquin, Tenaha outscored its next three opponents 154-12. All 12 points came from Kerens in Week 2, a 43-12 Tenaha win.
"We probably should have four shutouts, technically. Kerens had a fumble return for a touchdown and had 10 players on the field when they threw a bomb and scored, and it should have been illegal formation," Horn said. "I don't really feel like we've given up a real touchdown yet."
The Tigers' start to 2016 is night and day compared to 2015. Tenaha started last season 0-5 while trying to put the right players in the right positions -- all with a brand new coach and a freshman under center. Then the Tigers won seven in a row before losing to Muenster in the state quarterfinals.
"We had a bunch of freshmen and sophomores playing a varsity scheduled against teams we didn't have much business playing early on," Horn said. "But we got through the growing pains and started winning some football games."
At the forefront is coach Horn's son, C.J. Horn, at quarterback. He put up huge numbers as a freshman at a Class 2A school last season, with 2,800 yards and 31 touchdowns through the air. He already has 1,137 yards, 14 touchdowns and two interceptions through four games this season, while completing almost 75 percent of his passes.
"It's night and day (compared to last year)," Horn said. "He's a lot more prepared mentally, and we're able to make a lot of adjustments at the line. He's really evolved as a quarterback."
Not bad for a kid who, given the choice, wouldn't be playing quarterback, Coach Horn said.
"If it were up to him, he'd play safety and wide receiver," Horn said with a laugh. "Our offensive coordinator Coach Tamplin convinced me last year to make him our quarterback. I was hesitant at first; I didn't really like the idea, but it's worked out. We laugh and say if we had stayed in Hubbard, we would have never known he could play quarterback."
Tenaha goes into Friday night's game against West Sabine prepared to face its biggest test of 2016. Will the Tigers put up another shutout? Horn said he's not worried about it, as long as they take the "W" at the end of the night.
"Our kids don't get caught up in things like that, but they do things as personal challenges. That's what successful people do," Horn said. "We've got a really good opponent this week with an exceptional athlete at quarterback. It's going to be a challenge for our defense schematically because the double-wing is a tough offense to line up against. We don't talk shutouts; we talk about playing every down as good as you can and seeking perfection. The opponent this week makes it easy to keep the defense going."
Beyond West Sabine and the bye week, that's where programs like Tenaha do its best work. And the goal remains the same: win every one and go as far as possible into the postseason. People in Tenaha know what it's like to win a state championship, and it's a feeling that wants to be re-lived.
"We're going to continue to seek perfection and get better. We all know what the ultimate goal is," Horn said. "We know that the big trophy is what we want, but we don't talk about it on a day-to-day basis, but we grade ourselves on that level and practice on that level. We're just trying to get better right now."