Decatur St Teresa set the tone early with their power running attack and then blew open a battle of perennial powerhouses late with short passes and an outside running game ending Tuscola’s football season defeating the Warriors 63-20. The Bulldogs’ Denim Cook rumbled for 180 yards on twenty carries most of which came between the tackles controlling the clock and score board allowing them to advance to the states quarterfinal round of class 2A.
“Cook is the real deal, at this level he is as good as anyone we have seen,” stated Tuscola coach Andy Romine. “He hurt us at the point of attack and at the second level breaking numerous tackles.”
St T doubled the Warriors yardage on offense gaining 523 yards 370 of which came on the ground. They were also very efficient through the air connecting on nine of their first ten attempts en-route to 153 yards on fourteen of seventeen tries. Tuscola leaned on the ground attack early as well gaining 86 of their 135 yards on the ground in the first half, most of which came on their first two drives. Logan Tabeling led the way with sixty-nine yards on eight carries scoring once. He threw for another seventy-seven yards and added another scoring strike to what was a great senior campaign accounting for over 3,000 yards of total offense and thirty-one touchdowns. He found both Brandon Douglas and Jalen Quinn each three times gaining thirty-nine and thirty-eight yards respectively.
St T. scored first on the opening drive as Joe Staab turned the corner on the right side for a sixty-one yard touchdown run to move the Bulldogs in front 7-0. The Warriors drove in the red zone on the ensuing possession but turned the ball over, the first of three on the day. Tuscola responded forcing a three and out and then tied it up on a twenty-nine yard scoring run by Tabeling at the 5:52 mark of the first frame knotting it at 7’s.
St T extended their next drive with a broken play and moved back on top 14-7 reaching the end zone with 3:58 left on the clock. The final four minutes of the first doomed the Warriors as an errant snap led to a safety making it 16-7. They took full advantage of field position after the kickoff from the twenty-five yard line and tacked one more to make it 22-7 Bulldogs. They then dodged a disaster on an apparent botched punt return on their own three yard line was ruled down and then added two more scores in the second frame making it 36-7.
Romine’s group cut into the lead thanks to a big ball from Tabeling to Douglas that set up a one-yard strike from the pair cutting it to 36-13 at the break. But like a lot of big games when one team jumps out in front early it turned lopsided in a one sided third quarter that included a pair of Warrior turnovers and three St T scores. Tuscola managed just two first downs and thirty-four yards of offense after half, thirty of which came on Tabeling’s last touchdown of his career as the Bulldogs defense turned up the heat knowing the black and gold had to pass in an attempt to get back in the game.
“We knew we couldn’t afford to make to many mistakes going into it but really felt pretty good about our plan,” stated the coach. “Give St T. a lot of credit they played a flawless games on a day we maybe didn’t have our best. I’m really proud of our guys no matter the outcome. We have had a lot of season ending injuries both on the line and at skilled positions but they never used it as an excuse, they just continued to fight.”
St. T 10-1 moves on and will travel to 8-3 Auburn for the semifinals. Tuscola ends the year with an 8-3 record overall and sends its seniors off with an overall record of 42 and 7 during their varsity career.