Tyler Grace Hits The Road For Duel With Midland Christian’s Powerful Offense
TAPPS DIVISION II
State Quarterfinal Round
Midland Christian Mustangs (7-4)
Tyler Grace Community (8-3)
4 p.m. Saturday
Newton Field, Graham
- Christian: Greg McClendon
- Grace: Mike Maddox
- Christian: def. Bullard Brook Hill, 82-31
- Grace: def. Fort Worth Christian, 56-52
- Winner faces Dallas Christian or Grapevine Faith Christian, TAPPS Division II state semifinals
- QB Peyton Powell, Soph., 6-2, 170
- LB David Threadgill, Sr., 6-0, 205
- WR/DB Blake Ray, Sr., 5-8, 155
- QB Christopher Wilhelmi, Sr., 5-10, 155
- WR/QB Braydon Stone, Soph., 5-10, 155
- LB/RB Josh Spitzer, Sr., 6-0, 200
- WR Garrett Tauscher, Sr., 5-10, 170
- WR/DB Parker Ary, Sr., 6-0, 160
- RB Uchenna Uduma, Soph., 5-8, 177
- DB Greyson Kuykendall, Jr., 6-3, 160
- DL Ndukwe Uduma, Sr., 6-0, 220
- OL Ronnie Baker, Sr., 6-1, 250
Just the facts
- Tyler Grace and Midland Christian are separated by 440 miles along Interstate 20.
- The two teams' neutral site game in Graham is the furthest distance any East Texas team will travel this week. The closest game to Grace's featuring a local team this weekend will be Van versus Mineral Wells in Irving.
- Grace will travel 223 miles to Graham. Midland Christian can look forward to a one-way trip of 243 miles.
- As fate would have it, Grace and Midland Christian share two common opponents and played those common teams within past two weeks. The common opponents are Bullard Brook Hill and Fort Worth Christian.
- Grace beat both of the common opponents, starting with Bullard Brook Hill on the final night of the regular season. Midland Christian lost on the road to Fort Worth Christian by a score of 35-34 two weeks ago before knocking out Brook Hill in its first playoff game.
- Midland Christian sophomore quarterback Peyton Powell played a hand in eight touchdowns in his team's 82-31 against Brook Hill. He missed the previous two games, including the Fort Worth Christian contest.
- Both teams are three wins away from the TAPPS Division II state championship.
Key matchup: Grace's defense versus Midland Christian quarterback Peyton Powell.
The Cougars' won't be defending an opposing offense, per se. They'll be trying to box in a sophomore quarterback that is Midland Christian's offense.
Powell is his team's passer and also its leading rusher by more than 500 yards. And he missed the previous two games before scoring eight total touchdowns last week against Bullard Brook Hill in an 82-31 win in Midland.
Midland Christian owned a 41-15 lead after the first quarter of last week's game. Powell threw for two touchdowns and ran for three more scores in those opening 12 minutes.
If Grace can get a handle on Powell, East Texas will probably send a team to the TAPPS Division II state semifinals since Tyler Bishop Gorman got there in 2014. But that will take a complete defensive effort.
The Cougars defensive front is a good one. Powell can expect pressure to come from three particular points -- defensive tackle Ndukwe Uduma, linebacker Josh Spitzer and linebacker Luke Graham.
Uduma has six sacks and is a general annoyance in the interior for opposing offensive linemen. Spitzer and Graham are Grace's leading tacklers with 133 and 109 takedowns, respectively.
Defensive backs also will have to be on alert as Powell scrambles around. Midland Christian's receivers' numbers are in the same ballpark as Grace's, and they have a bit more time to get open with their quarterback's mobility.
Obviously, Grace's offense can help the cause and probably will have to win back at least a few Midland Christian touchdowns.
The Cougars are unbeaten with senior quarterback Christopher Wilhemi in the lineup. He missed the first five games of the year with an injury.
Don't be surprised if: This playoff game is another emotional rollercoaster ride for Grace fans on the heels of last week's thrilling win against Fort Worth Christian.
It's always a bit unsettling to face a team you've never read about let alone played, and those things often show in these east meets west games.
We'll know a lot more about the winning squads' state destiny Saturday evening. You could make a good argument this game is the stronger of two games that feed into next week's relevant state semifinal game.