Playoff hopes at stake for PCA, Tensas

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 13, 2000

The last time Porters Chapel and Tensas played each other, it was in the first round of the 1998 playoffs. The rosters have changed since then, but the situation will be just as crucial when the two teams hook up again tonight in St. Joseph.

Both Tensas (6-2, 0-2 Conference 7-A) and PCA (5-3, 0-3) have faint hopes of making the playoffs as a wild-card, making this the equivalent of a playoff game for both clubs.

“If we win both games, we’ve got a shot at the wild-card. If we don’t beat Tensas we don’t have to worry about that,” said PCA coach Bubba Mims, whose team must win its last two games and get some help to qualify for the postseason.

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Tensas is in the same sinking ship and searching for the same lifeboat. The Chiefs must win tonight, then beat division leader River Oaks next week and hope they have enough power points to qualify for the playoffs.

“As far as district, it doesn’t have much bearing. Neither one of us can win district,” Tensas coach Chris Jacobs said. “We still have a slim chance of getting in the playoffs if we win the last two.”

Only two PCA players running back Dustin Abbott and lineman J.C. Gullett remain from the 1998 playoff team. Tensas has several with postseason experience.

Junior quarterback David Crigler (44-for-100, 626 yards eight touchdowns) and cousin Scott Crigler (20 catches, 303 yards, five TDs) lead a Chief team that has advanced to the playoffs the last four seasons.

Junior running back Lee Hale has also picked up the Chiefs offense by running for 1,172 yards and 12 TDs. In the past, Tensas was noted for its passing game, but Hale has led them to a more balanced attack, Tensas coach Chris Jacobs said.

“We’ve put a lot more on him and he’s responded tremendously … I’ve never had one guy carry the load as much as he has,” Jacobs said, adding a reminder that Hale isn’t Tensas’ only threat. “We mix it up enough that they’ve got to defend everybody else, too. But I’m sure Porters Chapel is going to keep their eye on him. I would.”

Tensas’ balance isn’t just on the offensive stat sheet, either.

The Chiefs have used an “anyone, anywhere” policy to keep people fresh, and it’s worked. David Crigler, who has also rushed for 626 yards and seven TDs, has completed passes to nine different receivers. Tensas only has 18 on the roster.

“He’s done a good job of spreading it around,” Jacobs said.

While Tensas has experience on its side, the Eagles will try to rely on two of their biggest traits trickery and brute force.

The PCA ground game, led by 1,000-yard rusher Jeremiah Riggs, has churned out more than 1,600 yards this season and could keep the Tensas offense off the field if it gets cranked up.

The Eagles have also turned to the back of the playbook in recent weeks, using a number of gadget plays like a reverse pass to the quarterback against Tallulah and a hook-and-lateral play that went for a touchdown in a 35-31 win over Brookhaven last week to move the ball.

Mims said Friday’s game will come down to what makes plays like that work execution.

“If we execute well, we can play with them,” Mims said. “If we don’t, and have turnovers, we’re going to get beat.”