Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The eye of the Tiger(s)

It will be another over the mountains and through the woods trip on Friday night to Talihina.

The Tigers are only county team still playing football and it wouldn’t surprise me if they didn’t turn in the pads for a little longer.

Yes, Commerce will be a test Friday. But if Talihina plays this week like it did last week, I would not want to be a Commerce player.

I think Talihina will win again Friday. No, I have not seen Commerce play, but I have seen Talihina play twice and I am more impressed now than I was after the 27-8 win over Central Sallisaw earlier in the year.

The Tigers are not flashy and they are not overly big. They just play football the way it should be played.

Rough, tough and physical. Talihina’s players will knock the stuffing out of the opponents and instead of taunting the stricken player, go look for another player to hit.

A case in point: I believe it was on a Wynnewood punt last week. Talihina’s James Brigance found one of the Savages looking the other way and delivered a hit that could be heard in the stands.

The Wynnewood player was shaken up, understandably so. But none of the Tigers did any high-fives or wasted time taunting, they were too busy looking for somebody else to hit.

After the player was able to stand, the players and fans clapped. I must admit there was a loud “ooh” coming from quite a few people after the hit, even the Wynnewood side.

Talihina lines up in the old Power-I most of the time on offense, but have added a few other tricks since earlier in the season. But the Tigers win by running the ball, and they do that by blocking with a passion I have rarely seen over the last few years.

Wynnewood knew what was coming, just like the 10 teams before it, but did not have much luck stopping Talihina. The Savages kept bringing their defense closer and closer, but the Tigers made them pay by breaking big runs and also hitting a few long passes just to keep Wynnewood’s defense honest.

When the teams were warming up, I watched Wynnewood and thought the Savages might give Talihina a game. The Savages had some size and athletes, but after a couple of series, it was obvious Talihina were going to win and probably pretty bad.

That brief pounding took a lot of steam from the Wynnewood players, coaches and fans. And I don’t blame them. I can just imagine them thinking that they drove 150 miles down two-lane roads to get hammered like that. While many of the teams throughout the state have gone to a spread passing game and rely more on finesse, that is not what teams get when they face Talihina.

It is football the way it used to be played, only better for Talihina because other teams are not used to getting battered and bloodied by an opponent.

I don’t know how far Talihina will go in the playoffs or if the Tigers can win a state championship. There are four teams ranked above them and the Tigers have a long way to go, but I do know that if somebody does beat Talihina, they will know they were in a football game.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like fun watching them Craig. I would like to see them. I still think they have a chance to go all the way, although down the line, teams like Hennessey and Tonkawa will be tough. I think they'll get by Commerce all right, and we'll see what happens next.