The host Shoemaker Grey Wolves were on defense. They were trailing the Temple Wildcats 27-20. It was late in the second half. Temple faced a fourth-and-14. The Wildcats decided to go for it.
The date was Sept. 27, 2013.
Temple attempted a screen pass.
It didn’t fool Shoemaker inside linebacker Teneak Hall, then a junior.
“I was getting a break that play because I was on the line,” recalled teammate Broderick Reed, now a senior linebacker. “I saw the ball in the air and Teneak saw the screen. I saw Teneak running and making a beeline for that running back and I was thinking, ‘Oh, this is gonna be bad.’ Teneak laid a hat on him and that running back had no chance at catching that ball — and he didn’t.”
Diamon Cannon, now a 6-foot-2, 210-pound senior safety for Shoemaker also recalls the hit by Hall.
“I remember that I was going back in my drop,” Cannon said. “I see the ball in the air and I see someone moving really fast across the field and then, all of a sudden, everyone in the stands was up because there was this big crack.”
“It was a highlight hit,” recalled Shoemaker defensive coordinator Kevin Ellison. “It was a very good hit by Teneak and that’s what we want out of our guys all the time. Hit hard and punish the other team.”
“Teneak had watched film, he was ready on that play,” said Shoemaker head coach Channon Hall. “He smelled that play out. He came in there and unloaded. A very clean hit, great form, just how you teach it.”
Teneak Hall, no relation to coach Hall, is now a senior and weighs 195 pounds. He stands 5-foot-8.
“I hit that guy hard and the fans went wild, our coaches were excited and everyone went crazy,” Teneak said. “When I saw the ball in the air I was thinking, ‘Fourth-and-14 and you’re running a screen? This won’t look pretty. It’s not happening — not around here.’ ”
After the incompletion, Shoemaker’s offense marched down the field and tied the score.
This would be a much better story had Shoemaker ended up winning the game. But Temple scored 10 second-half points and left town 37-27 winners.
“But I do feel that hit was definitely a turning point for me and perhaps our whole team,” said Teneak.
“That hit ended up helping our team,” said coach Hall. “Temple is a measuring stick. Teneak helped fire up our football team.”
“That play by Teneak let us know we could be a really good football team,” Reed said.
“We thought if we can keep making plays like the one Teneak made,” said Cannon, “we can make it to the playoffs.”
Which Shoemaker did.
Channon Hall earned KDH Coach of the Year honors for leading Shoemaker to its greatest season in school history and into the playoffs.
The 2014 Shoemaker season begins tomorrow with its first day of practice.
Teneak Hall wants to hit somebody.
“But I probably won’t be able to on Monday,” Teneak said. “Our coaches blow that whistle fast because we can’t hit our own offense too hard.”
“We’ll let Teneak do some wrapping up, but no full-hitting yet,” coach Hall said. “We’ll be in helmets but no shoulder pads until Friday. Teneak will have to wait until Friday until he gets his first real good hit in this year.”
And, Coach, on Friday, how long do you think it will take before Teneak makes a real big hit on somebody?
“I don’t think it will take too long,” replied coach Hall. “Within the first 20 minutes, Teneak will let it be known that he’s ready to go.”
Channon Hall clearly has big expectations of Teneak this season.
“I expect Teneak to be the leader of our defense. He’s a vocal, emotional player. I want him to bring that whole group together. He’ll need to set the tempo for our entire defense.”
Teneak is ready. He’d run through a wall for his head coach.
“Coach gets my blood pumping every time I see him,” Teneak said. “He’s the father figure to all of us. There’s so much excitement around him.
“Starting Monday, and for the rest of the year, our defensive backs will be fired up, the linebackers will be fired up, our line will be hyped up. Our offense will be fired up.”
Shoemaker finished 2013 with a 7-4 record.
“I want more than what we did last year,” Teneak said. “Everybody around here wants more. The teachers want more. The booster club wants more. The coaches want more. All of us have been working our butts off since last season ended.
“You bet that first-round playoff loss still sticks with me. Now, we all want to go much further as a team.”
Which is music to his head coach’s ears.
“We’re still not satisfied around here,” said coach Hall. “I still look at us like the underdogs. A lot of people still don’t respect us. I keep hearing, ‘We got lucky and did it one time.’ We need to do it again. We’ve started a turnaround here at Shoemaker. But we’re still underdogs and that’s how I want my guys to approach things — with a lot of hunger, a lot of passion, and a lot of intensity.”
Shoemaker has five home games this season. There are, of course, other things area citizens can do on a Friday night other than attend a football game.
One could do some late-night fishing or go to a movie …
“No,” Teneak said. “Don’t go fishing and don’t go to those movies. Come watch the Shoemaker football team play. There will be some big, big hits. There will be big plays by both our defense and our offense. Our offense will be scoring a lot of touchdowns. We’re a big-play team.”
Ah, football is back.
And at Shoemaker High School, it should be one Hall of a season.