It's Playoff Time: Trojans long road back to Class A state playoffs begins with Tenaha

By JOSEPH ELERSON | News-Telegram Sports Writer

Nov. 24, 2007 - CUMBY - For Cumby head coach Kent Hawthorne, making it to the Class A state playoffs was goal No. 1 this season. Winning a playoff game will make the trip to the postseason even sweeter.

For the first time since the school resumed its football program in 2000, the Cumby Trojans will open up their playoff journey against Tenaha in the Class A, Div. II area round Friday night at Jack V. Murphy Stadium in Gladewater. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

It will be the first playoff appearance for Cumby since 1979.

"It is exciting around here and the kids are happy and working hard for this playoff game," Hawthorne said. "Hopefully, our defense will step it up and the offense will play as strong as they have all season."

The offense has averaged 33 points this season led by talented sophomore quarterback Brixx Hawthorne, the son of the head coach.

Hawthorne has rushed for 919 yards on 104 carries with eight touchdowns, while throwing for 1,546 yards on 94-of-226 with 18 touchdowns and eight interceptions this year.

His favorite targets have been 6-4 receiver Kris Stanford, with 35 catches for 568 yards and nine touchdowns along with senior running back Nathan Dunnihoo with 23 catches for 513 yards and six touchdowns. Dunnihoo has also rushed for 528 yards on 96 carries with seven touchdowns.

He will be joined in the backfield by senior tailback B.T. Brown as he has played in five games this season and has 139 yards on 27 carries with three touchdowns and eight receptions for 103 yards and four touchdowns.

Hawthorne said the Tigers 3-4 defense will be something their offensive line needs to keep their eyes on during the game.

"They are going to put pressure on us with their 3-4 and they will man up. We need to find a way to get open and I think the offense will be all right," he said. "They will come prepared since they have playoff experience. This will be our first trip, and we will try and make the most out of the experience."

Tenaha (8-3) comes into the playoffs as the District 20-A champion and defeated Union Hill, 58-34, in their bi-district game last Friday night.

Coach Scott Tyner's team is led by 6-2 quarterback Jared Thomas and junior Marlon McClure, who can play quarterback, receiver and tailback if necessary during the game.

Hawthorne said the Trojans defense expects to see McClure get his touches throughout the ballgame.

"He (Marlon McClure) is their multi-threat athlete and they will get the ball in his hand about 43 percent of the time and we will have to try and contain him," the coach said. "They run the spread and they like to keep the ball in No. 5 (McClure's) hands."

The Tigers also use a steady dose of 5-8 junior running back Cameron Choice, who has 4.5 speed, in hopes of disrupting the Cumby defensive front.

Tenaha will try take advantage of their offensive line as center Josh Jernigan, lineman John Willoughby, Johnathan Hurst and Serafin Miranda along with tight end Terrance Steadman have led the Tigers to their 8-3 record.

"They are fast and have a lot of speed," Hawthorne said. "They are not overly big and they have playoff experience. We are going to have to play hard and not make mistakes."

The winner of this game will face Grapeland or West Sabine in the Region III finals next weekend.

Note: The Wolfe City Wolves and the Boles Hornets will also open up the playoffs as Boles takes on Maud, while Wolfe City battles Joaquin this weekend.

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