MALAKOFF — The Tigers are on an incredible roll.
When 12-2 Malakoff takes the field against Grandview (13-2) Thursday night in the 3A Division 1 Championship Game, it will be their 15th game of the season and 6th playoff game.
Let’s take a look back at the Tigers path through the playoffs.
Round 1 (Bi-district) — Friday, Nov. 16
The Tigers started their run by beating Pottsboro 63-35 at E.H. Hanby Stadium in Mesquite.
The Malakoff offense was on fire early, scoring 21 points in the first quarter and the Tigers never trailed in the game. Pottsboro never got closer than 14.
This was the “Jailbreak Screen” game, with wide receiver Andreas Garrett scoring three times on the play. He went 39, 39 and 70 yards for touchdowns. Running back Keevie Rose also had a big game, rushing for 150 yards and three touchdowns.
Round 2 (Area) — Friday, Nov. 23
The Tigers celebrated the day after Thanksgiving in Mineola with a 31-21 win over No. 7 Jefferson, handing the Bulldogs their only loss of the year.
Keevie Rose powered the Malakoff win, carrying the ball 38 times for 127 times and a touchdown as the Tigers worked to control the clock. They succeeded, holding the Bulldogs to just five offensive plays in the first half.
The Malakoff offensive line dominated this game, something that has been consistent throughout the playoffs. Kyler Dalrymple, Jamicah Gregg, Lincoln Rogers, Eric Littleton and Brenden McClintock along with tight ends Parker Busch and Colby Rush manhandled the Bulldogs.
Round 3 (Region Semifinal) — Saturday, Dec. 1
Malakoff’s offense came alive in the second half, scoring 28 points on its way to a 35-7 win over Gladewater at Christus TMF Rose Stadium in Tyler.
The real story of the game, however, was the defense. Led by Caleb Adams, the Tigers put pressure on the Gladewater quarterbacks all game long and shut down the Bears rushing attack.
The game also marked the return of running back Dedric Davis, who had been out because of injury since the second game of the season. All he did was run for 39 yards on five carries and a 4-yard touchdown in the third quarter, giving the team a much-needed shot of energy.
Round 4 (Region Championship) — Saturday, Dec. 8
For the second straight week, Malakoff’s game was moved to Saturday because of severe weather concerns. For the second straight week, it didn’t matter to Malakoff as the Tigers upended Atlanta, 37-22, at Pirate Stadium in Longview.
Malakoff broke out to a 21-0 lead behind a dominating ground game and led 31-6 at the half. The Tigers never led by less than 15 throughout.
While Malakoff had been playing a physical style throughout the season, in this game the Tigers took things up a notch. They rushed for more than 400 yards and the Malakoff defense was outstanding in the first half, holding Atlanta to just over 100 yards of offense and 6 points.
Round 5 (State Semifinal) — Friday, Dec. 14
Malakoff’s fans filled the stands at The Star in Frisco and watched their Tigers beat Brock, 23-21, to earn a berth in the state championship game.
They say that defense wins championships. In this case, it was certainly the defense that helped the Tigers earn a chance at one.
Malakoff held Brock without a first down for the entire first quarter and forced the Eagles into three straight three-and-outs to start the game. Then, the Tigers held the Eagles scoreless in the second half.