TOMBALL, Texas— As the 2017 season comes to a close, many will face a bittersweet ending as most in the state fail to qualify for postseason play.
For Tomball and Tomball Memorial, it will be a nail-biting, teeth-gritting, down to the last second game. The two will compete for the last and final playoff berth in District 20-5A at Tomball ISD Stadium this Friday.
Tomball (5-3, 3-3) has been absent from the playoffs for several years. That’s why this year has shocked fans and doubters from all across the region. Slated to finish last in their district, Tomball now surprisingly has a shot at securing a playoff berth this week. The cherry on top is if the Cougars do win, it will be against Tomball Memorial.
There’s truly nothing sweeter in sports than beating a team you love to hate and for Tomball, their dreams of reaching postseason immortality are only one game away now.
This wouldn’t be possible without the ground and pound running back Ja’Kobi Holland. Holland has accumulated nearly 1,400 yards rushing on the season with a complementary 12 touchdowns. Aiding him in the stats section is athlete Tyrin Taylor. Once the signal caller for the Cougars, is now assuming the roles of quarterback, running back, and wide receiver. Taylor, who has thrown for 466 yards and rushed for another 711 yards on the season, has made both Holland’s and quarterback Hunter Dunn’s job much easier.
Come Friday, the true test of this Cougars’ team will be whether or not the defense can stop the all-star play by the Wildcats’ offense. If Tomball is able to shut down the passing game and limit big runs on the ground, the odds may be in their favor.
Tomball Memorial (6-3, 3-3), has also undergone their own sort of decadal rollercoaster. The Wildcats have won three-straight after starting off with a horrendous 0-3 start in district.
The miracle of a season the Wildcats have had isn’t so much of a miracle as it is the culmination of hard work, a little bit of luck, and the fine tuning of the offense. Tomball Memorial has proven its worth this year, averaging 594.1 yards per game. To put it into perspective, Waller High school (on par to finish last in 20-5A) is averaging about 343 yards per game. That’s how many yards Tomball Memorial gains in just over two quarters of play.
This is due in large part from the coaching change that happened earlier this year with the hire of former Spring High football head coach Sam Parker. Parker lead the Spring Lions to several playoff runs in his tenure there. Most notable, the 2014 state quarter-final appearance versus Spring Westfield which resulted in a close 24-19 loss.
His presence since being named head coach at Tomball Memorial has impacted every facet and angle of the culture.
Parker is lucky to be aided by some stellar athletes as well. With senior quarterback Dru Baker at his disposal, coach Parker hasn’t had to worry much. In nine games, Baker has unloaded arcade game numbers in the stat box. His 144.0 QBR isn’t a fluke—the 2,050 passing yards and 64 percent passing completion rate would no doubt make FBS field generals shiver in their jockstraps.
As if that weren’t enough, Baker also leads the team in rushing. With 759 yards, averaging 10.9 yards per rush, what can’t this kid do?
Having players like Baker on your team certainly increase your chances of winning. What should worry coach Parker is the ability to open up the other tools and weapons on his offense before the Cougar’s defense finds a way to intimidate Baker early on. All it takes is a few good licks from a bruising middle linebacker to scare any good quarterback. Tomball Memorial’s main goal Friday should be to protect Baker at all costs. Especially if it plans on making a deep run this postseason.
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