Tensas Academy has obstacles to overcome

Published 12:01 am Thursday, August 16, 2012

St. joseph — The Tensas Academy eight-man football team has been defined by success the past four seasons.

The Chiefs advanced to at least the semi-finals in the last four seasons, and last year, they won the state title.

But to continue that run of dominance, the Chiefs will have to overcome several obstacles this season.

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“We’re awful thin,” head coach Joe Coats said. “We only have 10 high-school age players. We had a big senior class last year. It’s going to be a rebuilding situation.”

Eleven seniors left the team after last year’s state championship, and Coats said he foresaw the problems facing him for this season.

“You knew it was coming,” he said. “We had our chance last year, went 12-0 and took advantage of it.”

Coats said he still expects fan expectations to be high, even though the 2012 squad is facing great challenges.

“I’ll probably go from a genius to an idiot in one short year,” he said.

The Chiefs will have to develop a new style of play this season to handle their depth issues, Coats said.

The offense will focus on running the ball and the clock.

“Holding on to the ball will shorten the game,” he said. “That’s about our only option. That and try not to make any mistakes and hopefully still be in the game during the fourth quarter.”

Coats said he would love to see the Chiefs’ make the postseason again this season.

“I don’t know if we’ll win a game,” he said. “I’d say it would be a lofty goal to continue the playoff streak. We’ve never lost a district game since we started in the eight-man league, but it would be unrealistic to think we could continue that.”

Seniors Jack Hart and Jake Emfinger will be the leaders of the team this season. Coats said he likes Emfinger’s experience at running back.

“Jake Emfinger is a five-year starter at guard, but we moved him to running back,” Coats said. “He’s been there every day (this summer), and he’s experienced. In all my years, I’ve never had a five-year starter coming back, so he’s going to have to carry a lot of the load.”

Coats said offseason attendance was low due to a variety of reasons, and the team did not play a jamboree last week to prepare for the season opener Friday against Northeast Baptist. He said Friday’s game would be his first look at his 2012 squad.

“We are going to struggle early, but we hope to get better as the season progresses,” he said. “We got some new guys coming in that might surprise me, they just haven’t played much.”

Coats said Northeast Baptist is a team that he thinks the Chiefs can play with this season.

“We played them last year, and hopefully we can match up with them,” he said. “This will probably be one of our opportunities.”

Tensas will host Northeast Baptist at 7 p.m. Friday.